Senator Rosario Green (Mexico), President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians, presented her report to the IPU Governing Council on the last day of the 123rd IPU Assembly. The Committee has examined the individual predicament of 306 parliamentarians in 35 countries. These include the public cases of 118 legislators in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Burundi, Cambodia, Colombia, Ecuador, Eritrea, Iraq, Lebanon, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Palestine/Israel, Philippines, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Sri Lanka, Turkey and Zimbabwe.

At a press conference held after the presentation of the report, the Committee President, accompanied by Canadian Senator Sharon Carstairs (a former President of the Committee), focussed on cases concerning Cambodia, Eritrea, Myanmar and Rwanda.

In her report to the IPU Council, Committee President Green referred in particular to the situation in Myanmar. “In a little over a month” she said, “the citizens of Myanmar will take part in elections, the first in twenty years. This should be a reason for joy, but it is not. In Bangkok, the IPU called on the Myanmar authorities to do everything possible to ensure inclusive, free and fair elections. There are currently 2,100 political prisoners still waiting for their release. This includes the twelve parliamentarians whose cases are being examined by the IPU and who remain imprisoned for merely having exercised their freedom of expression. They have all been sentenced on the basis of legal proceedings which blatantly disregarded their right to a fair trial. They are not the only ones, however, who are excluded from the political process. In the past, the Committee examined many other cases of parliamentarians in Myanmar who at one time or another ended up in prison for speaking their minds. None of them can stand in the elections, because all those who have been the subject of a conviction are automatically disqualified. Take a clear stance in support of the release of your detained colleagues for a credible political transition in Myanmar.” urged Ms. Green.

Some 500 parliamentarians from 119 countries, among them 23 Speakers of Parliament, are attending the 123rd Assembly. At today’s close they adopted a resolution on an emergency item to call for immediate action to support international relief efforts in response to natural disasters, in particular for flood-stricken Pakistan.

The legislators urged both the private sector and the international community, particularly donor countries, international financial institutions and international organizations, to extend their full support and assistance to the Government of Pakistan and to mitigate the adverse impact of the floods. Actions recommended included writing off and/or rescheduling Pakistan’s debt, providing market access to revive Pakistan’s economy and investing in medium and long-term rehabilitation and reconstruction projects. They also encouraged the Government of Pakistan to continue its own efforts to introduce the financial and economic reforms required for successful reconstruction.

The parliamentarians also called upon governments to provide adequate and accessible resources to United Nations agencies involved in funding and providing disaster assistance, and upon the IPU to support the UN by developing a parliamentary programme on disaster-risk reduction that encompasses mitigation, prevention and preparedness.

The IPU Governing Council also adopted a zero growth budget for 2011, for a total amount of 18.1 million Swiss francs, taking account of budgetary constraints to which national parliaments are subject during the current period of economic difficulty.

The next IPU Assembly will be held in Panama City (Panama) from 15-20 April 2011.

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