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Inter-Parliamentary Union Calls for Freedom for PLC Members

Inter-Parliamentary Union calls for freedom for PLC members, end of isolation for Ahmad Sa’adati

Kampala/Geneva, 5th April – The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) is today calling on Israel to end the practice of administrative detention and to either immediately release members of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) held under such terms or prosecute them using normal criminal procedure if there is any criminal involvement on their part.

The call is part of a series of resolutions on human rights violations of parliamentarians adopted at its 126th Assembly in Kampala, which ended today.

Twenty-three Palestinian legislators, close to 20% of the PLC’s total membership, are currently being held in administrative detention, nine of them for more than a year and one of them more than 72 years old. Among those detained is the Speaker of the Council.

The IPU expresses serious misgivings on the ability of those kept in administrative detention to benefit from due process.

The Organization is also urging Israeli authorities to end an isolation order on another Palestinian MP, Ahmad Sa’adat, arrested two months after being elected to the PLC in 2006. In poor health and reportedly without medical attention, Sa’adat has been in solitary confinement for almost three years.

International human rights bodies, including the UN Committee against Torture, have concluded on several occasions that prolonged periods of isolation are cruel, degrading and inhuman punishment.

The IPU is seeking access to Sa’adat to ascertain his conditions of detention and reaffirming its position that his imprisonment was related to his political activities as General Secretary for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), is calling for his immediate release.

It is also reiterating its call for the release of Marwan Barghouti, arrested in the West Bank town of Ramallah and transferred to an Israeli prison. Barghouti has this week been put into solitary confinement.

Elsewhere, the Organization expressed satisfaction at the release in Myanmar of the last five members-elect of the People’s Assembly as part of an amnesty of more than 600 prisoners in January. However, stressing that they were political prisoners held on the basis of unjust laws and unfair procedures, the IPU considers it essential that the People’s Assembly repeal these laws as a matter of priority.

It deeply regretted the deaths of seven former MPs in prison or shortly after their release due to the conditions in detention and urged authorities to put in place a new Prisons Act that will ensure prisoners are treated according to international norms.

Other resolutions on human rights cases of MPs include high profile political names such as Anwar Ibrahim in Malaysia, Sam Rainsy in Cambodia and Sheikh Hasina in Bangladesh.

The IPU Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians is currently following 77 cases involving 201 MPs from around the world. Thirty-four of these cases are public including that of Iceland’s Birgitta Jónsdóttir whose co-production of a video released by Wikileaks led to a US court order for Twitter to hand over details of her account to the government.

The IPU passed resolutions on 31 cases today. Of these, five were in Africa including a new case in Cameroon; three in Europe; five in the Middle East; 12 in Asia including four in Sri Lanka and 6 in the Latin American country of Colombia.


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