Record number of MPs suffer human rights violations in 2022

The IPU helped to successfully lobby for the release of Malaysian politician Anwar Ibrahim from prison in 2018. He was sworn in as prime minister on 24 November, 2022. The image shows Ibrahim waving to supporters ahead of the election on 5 November 2022. (Keystone/AP Photo/JohnShen Lee)

The number of parliamentarians around the world that suffered violations of their fundamental rights reached a record high in 2022, according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU).

What the numbers show. Its latest global snapshot shows that 739 MPs were threatened over the past year, an increase of 10 per cent rise on 2021.

The proportion of cases involving abused MPs from opposition parties has also dramatically increased, representing 80.5 per cent in 2022 compared to 65 cent in 2021.

Rights under attack. The organisation, which defends the rights of persecuted parliamentarians, said the most common violations reported continue to be attacks on MPs’ freedom of expression followed by suspension or loss of parliamentary mandate, threats and acts of intimidation and lack of a fair trial. 

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Cases in the Middle East and North Africa significantly increased (up 31 per cent), driven by the political situation in Tunisia following the dissolution of parliament in March 2022 and violations experienced by several MPs.

The number of cases concerning women parliamentarians also jumped ​​to 137 in 2022 compared with 123 in 2021 and is now four times higher than it was in 2014.

The good news. There were some wins, however, for the IPU’s parliamentarian human rights committee in countries including Malaysia, Ecuador, and Turkey where it managed to close cases following the release of parliamentarians there. 

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, for example, the IPU Committee closed the case in February 2022 of Jean-Jacques Mamba following the courts’ dismissal of the criminal case brought against him.

In November 2022, Rishad Bathiudeen, an opposition MP in Sri Lanka, was released after seven months in detention. It comes after the IPU had been urging the authorities to either charge Bathiudeen if there was solid and credible evidence against him or to release him.

The IPU also highlighted efforts by the Argentinian parliament to help relocate of Afghans in danger, including women parliamentarians and parliamentary staff, following the Taliban takeover in 2021. The first refugees arrived in Argentina in October 2022.

“The actions followed an IPU statement expressing concern over the humanitarian situation in the country and calling on MPs around the world to support their colleagues in Afghanistan,” it said in a statement.