Solidarity with Parliamentarians
Democracy is the regime of, by and for the people. Through free and fair elections, citizens chose their representatives and give them the power to take decisions on their behalf. Democracy with its checks and balances, the rule of law and, ultimately, human rights rely on parliamentarians who can freely fulfil their mandates. Parliamentarians are instrumental in driving their countries or regions towards more democratic and inclusive societies, with non-discrimination, respect for minorities and gender equality as core values.
Unfortunately, in many parts of the world, elected parliamentarians do not enjoy the freedom and safe environment to exercise their legitimate mandates. Standing in a parliament for human rights or trying to make repressive governments accountable may expose lawmakers in many countries to harassment against themselves or their families lead them to prison or exile or even threaten their physical integrity.
With the Solidarity with Parliamentarians programme, the European Parliament makes the protection of elected parliamentarians an integral part of its global democracy support activities. Supportive measures are identified and coordinated in close cooperation with the European External Action Service, human rights organisations and international partner organisations specialised in the protection of the rights of parliamentarians like the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) or Parliamentarians for Global Action (PGA).
The programme has two components:
● An annual stocktaking debate on the situation of the human rights of parliamentarians in the world
● Twinning partnerships between MEPs and parliamentarians at risk who agree on becoming twinning partners. Twinning MEPs pledge to draw attention to their situations and help protect them through public or silent action.
On 29 June 2022, at the eve of the International Day of Parliamentarism (30 June), the European Parliament hosted a debate between MEPs, international organisations and Members of Parliaments, on the human rights of parliamentarians worldwide.
The hybrid event involved MEPs Hannah NEUMANN, Nikolaj VILLUMSEN, Chris MACMANUS, Jordi SOLÉ and Isabel SANTOS, as well as representatives of international organisations promoting human rights of parliamentarians Mr Roger Huizenga (Inter-Parliamentary Union, IPU), Hon. Rozaina Adam (Parliamentarians for Global Action, PGA). Mr Teddy Baguilat (Asian Parliamentarians for Human Rights, APHR), and Mr Phone Kyaw (Committee of Representatives of the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw, CRPH) participated from Southeast Asia.
In the first part, MEPs shared their experience and actions as twinning partners of threatened MPs under the Solidarity with Parliamentarians programme. During the second part, IPU and the PGA, the main international stakeholders, gave a comprehensive assessment on how the situation of the human rights of parliamentarians evolved during last year. In the third part, MPs from ASEAN gave their insight on the backlash against parliamentary democracy and the rights of parliamentarians in their region.
The event allowed for a fruitful exchange of views on the best ways to strengthen the international solidarity network to defend parliamentarians' human rights, a pre-condition for a functioning democracy. IPU and PGA followed their assessment with recommendations on how to improve the effectiveness of the Solidarity with Parliamentarians programme, while APHR referred to specific cases where international solidarity is needed. CRPH provided an insight of the dreadful situation of Myanmar legitimately elected MPs who had to go into hiding after the February 2021 coup, as Myanmar is responsible alone for the biggest increase of violations of the human rights of parliamentarians in the ASEAN region.
Hannah Neumann met Sarah Elago online to discuss smear campaigns, disinformation, hate speech and how to counter these online attacks affecting women parliamentarians in particular. The twinned parliamentarians exchanged views on ways to protect themselves against a hostile online and offline environment, a reality of countries like the Philippines. In Europe, Hannah Neumann stressed the protection mechanisms and the importance of solidarity among colleagues. Press the link to watch.