THE 134-member Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Committee on Human Rights has urged Zambia to urgently revise the Public Order Act before the general elections on August 11.
Member of IPU Committee on Human Rights of Parliamentarians from Switzerland, Margaret Kienen Ivellen, told a press conference in Lusaka yesterday that member states should stop violating MPs’ human rights.
She said the committee was working on Zambia’s older cases concerning the Public Order Act and its use during elections in recent years.
Ms Ivellen said Zambia needed to amend the POA before the 2016 elections so that people’s right to assemble peacefully was respected fully by everyone.
Ms Ivellen said if MPs could not do their job safely or without fear, including holding government to account; they could not ensure that Parliament was doing its job to protect human rights and political freedoms of society as a whole.
The IPU Committee on Human Rights has also expressed deep concern at the ‘‘shrinking space’’ for political expression across the world.
In a series of decisions adopted on the violation of the human rights of parliamentarians at the conclusion of its 134th Assembly in Zambia, IPU Committee on Human Rights deplored the widespread silencing of political opposition.
She said the committee had cases involving 281 parliamentarians before it.
“At this assembly, we look at the situation of 143 MPs and only adopted cases concerning 70 MPs in seven countries. Most of the countries are in Asia. But one is here in Africa.
“We are profoundly concerned by the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo where we have 34 MPs and former MPs before the committee, and by the growing political insecurity ahead of elections later this year,” Ms Ivellen said.
She said no single country had mores cases lodged with the IPU than DRC.
“We are urging the authorities to take urgent measures to end these violations and resolve the situation of all 34 MPs. We believe all the cases are of a particularly political nature and the authorities in the country are duty bound to respect and protect the fundamental rights of all parliamentarians,” Ms Ivellen said.
She explained that the IPU Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians was unique, adding that it was the only body that works to protect or seek to redress issues of MPs whose rights had been abused.
“We meet three times a year, including during our assemblies. During these meetings, we examine what has happened or not on cases that have been lodged with the committee.
“We hold hearings with authorities and sources of information and we make pronouncement on what needs to be done to resolve the cases. We also carry out missions to countries to gather firsthand information to help us in our work to find solutions,” Ms Ivellen said