New Delhi, Jan 24: Parliamentarians across the world continued to face too many dangers in 2015 that prevented or hampered their work, representing a real and on-going threat to democracy that needed to be addressed.
A recent report of Geneva-based Inter-Parliamentary Union on "Violations of the Human Rights of MPs2015," which releases figures and trends on the cases being examined by its Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians, has found that the number of MPs with alleged violations of their human rights has increased for the second year in a row.
The IPU is the global organisation of national parliaments. It works to safeguard peace and drives positive democratic change through political dialogue and concrete action.
Created in 1976, the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians is a unique body that works to provide redress for MPs whose rights have been violated. MPs can be subject to a range of abuses and types of violence.
These include death, intimidation and torture, but the main violations are arbitrary arrest and detention, lack of fair trial, violation of the right to freedom of expression or assembly, and the unlawful loss of parliamentary mandate.
During 2015, the IPU Committee worked on cases involving 320 MPs in 43 countries, up from 311 cases in 40 countries in 2014 and 270 cases in 40 countries in 2013. Overwhelmingly, the targeted MPs are men (283) and more than two thirds of all cases (71 per cent) are from the political opposition (228).
Although Africa continues to have the highest number of MPs with cases 114 accounting for 36 per cent of the cases before IPU, the region has seen a slight drop from the 119 MPs in 2014.
Asia, which maintains its ranking as the second most dangerous place for an MP, has seen a worrying jump in the number of alleged violations.
Of the 21 MPs with new cases brought before the IPU Committee this year, 15 are in Asia. With a total of 94 MPs, Asia accounted for 29 per cent of all cases, up from 25 per cent in 2014.
The 2015 data said the Middle East and North Africa region ranked third with 17 per cent of all cases, followed by the Americas at 13 per cent and Europe 5 per cent. The Pacific region is the only part of the world with no case of alleged violations being examined by IPU.
"Clearly it is of concern that year-on-year more and more MPs are being targeted in some way. An attack on an MP or an attempt to silence a parliamentary voice is much more than an assault on an individual. It is also an assault on the people and democracy," says IPU Secretary General Martin Chungong.
"This is a trend that should worry each and everyone of us because if those who are responsible for defending the rights of the people are themselves being persecuted, then everyones rights are under threat," he said.
The assassination of at least eight MPs this year, mainly in Somalia but also in Afghanistan, Kenya and Yemen, although not referred to the IPU Committee, underlines the very real danger many MPs live with on a daily basis.
Of the 320 cases currently being worked on by the organisation and dating from before 2015, 60 involve assassinations. Another two cases are of forced disappearance, with strong suspicions that the MPs have been killed.
IPU will only consider these cases resolved when the perpetrators are brought to account. 2015, however, saw a much higher rate of success in resolving cases.
Of the 54 cases that were closed in the year, 38 were resolved satisfactorily and underlined the value of the Committees dogged public or discreet diplomatic work to find solutions.