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IPU Mission Supports Egypt on Parliamentary Election Law

By Inter-Parlementary Union (IPU)
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GENEVA, Switzerland, January 11, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- An IPU expert mission to Egypt will work with authorities there on revising a law governing parliamentary elections ahead of new polls for the lower house of parliament in the coming weeks.

The mission on 13-14 January is part of on-going IPU support to Egypt in efforts to build a democratic society.

The team of experts specializing in electoral processes, women's political participation and an MP from the UK, will provide advice on a range of issues. This includes putting in place the most reliable measures to elect a greater number of women to the Egyptian parliament. Egypt currently has only 15 women MPs, representing 2.0 percent of the total number of parliamentarians.

The Arab country uses a mixture of both proportional representation and first-past-the-post systems to elect members of parliament. Quotas and reserved seats are often the most effective ways to ensure a more representative parliament.

The Egyptian parliament is amending the law governing parliamentary elections, due to be finalized in the coming weeks, after a new constitution was approved last month.

The revised law will need to be accompanied by other measures to ensure increased women's political participation. These include efforts to raise electoral awareness among the public on voting for women, training women candidates on campaign methods and ensuring media cover of women candidates on the hustings.

Bahrain, DRC and Maldives on Table as IPU Committee on Human Rights of MPs Meets - The human rights abuses of MPs in Bahrain, Maldives and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) will be among cases examined by IPU's Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians due to meet between 14-18 January.

The five-day session will include also a hearing with parliamentary authorities in Bahrain on the case of Matar Ebrahim Matar and Jawad Fairuz Ghuloom on allegations of arbitrary arrest, detention and ill-treatment. Fairuz is also among 31 opposition activists whose Bahraini citizenship was revoked last November.

The hearing follows a resolution adopted by IPU at its 127th Assembly in Quebec City last October voicing concerns at attempts to stifle opposition in Bahrain and at the lack of accountability over alleged ill-treatment of the two MPs.

The Committee will also follow-up on the findings of an IPU human rights mission to Maldives carried out last November to gather first hand evidence on allegations of ill-treatment, detention and harassment of 19 opposition MPs. It had already expressed concerns at continued political violence and intimidation of MPs since the onset of the political crisis in February 2012, and at the absence of prosecution of those responsible.

The human rights body will also seek further action on the cases of two opposition MPs from the DRC, Eugène Diomi Ndongala and Pierre Jacques Chalupa, having expressed deep concern over their situation in a resolution adopted at IPU's Assembly in Quebec in October.

83 cases concerning 233 parliamentarians in 39 countries from across the world have been lodged before the Committee involving disappearances, breach of freedom of expression, harassment, politically motivated criminal charges, unlawful arrests and detention and other human rights abuses.

The IPU Committee, established in 1976, also has before it a number of long-standing, unresolved cases of concern, including disappearances of MPs in Eritrea, Belarus and Rwanda. Other cases involve high profile politicians such as Sam Rainsy in Cambodia, Anwar Ibrahim in Malaysia, Fawzia Koofi in Afghanistan and Jatuporn Prompan in Thailand.