GENEVA, Switzerland, January 17, 2014 – African Press Organization (APO) – A former Eritrean Defence Minister has urged IPU and the international community to do its utmost for 11 fellow MPs imprisoned without charges in Eritrea in 2001.
At a hearing before IPU’s Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians, Mesfin Hagos, one of 15 politicians who had written an open letter to Eritrean President Isaias Afewerki in 2001, feared the worst for the 11 MPs, known as the G-11. Hagos and three others had avoided arrest following the publication of the letter calling for the Eritrean parliament to be able to implement the new national constitution, but the others had not been so lucky.
Describing the environment of the highly secure prison where the G-11 are allegedly being held as extremely hostile and difficult for anyone to survive, Hagos said only President Afewerki and a very few individuals around him knew the true fate of the G-11 as even the prison guards were not allowed to leave the area. The prisoners have not been seen or heard of since their arrest in September 2001.
Hagos called on every IPU member parliament to take action to shed light on the fate of the G-11, fearing that the combination of the hot and arid environment, maltreatment, age and medical illnesses would have taken their toll on the MPs. The IPU Committee remains deeply concerned over reports some years ago that only two of the 11 MPs may still be alive.
In a resolution adopted at its 129th Assembly on the G-11 case, IPU deplored Eritrea’s contempt for the most basic human rights of the detained and urged the authorities again to provide information on the 11 MPs. It has also asked all its members to put pressure on Eritrea to release them and end the silence.
During a four-day session in Geneva, the IPU Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians took on new cases in Colombia, Iraq, Oman and Yemen. It also adopted decisions on cases involving the human rights abuses of 145 MPs in 21 countries. This includes Sri Lanka where Tamil MP Sivaganam Shritharan who survived an assassination attempt in 2011, is facing renewed threats against his life.
IPU is concerned over allegations of harassment and intimidation of both Sivaganam and his family by law enforcement officers and is convinced that those wanting to harm him will eventually succeed as long as they believe they will not be held to account.
IPU calls upon the Sri Lankan parliament and authorities to ensure action is taken against those behind the assassination attempt.
IPU also expressed deep concern that the perpetrators of the killing of four Lebanese MPs between 2005 and 2007 have still not been brought to justice. The MPs were among a string of political assassinations that followed the death of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. The trial against four men accused of the death of Hariri opened at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon in The Hague on 16 January.
Inter-Parlementary Union (IPU)
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