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View Peter Fonseca Profile
Lib. (ON)
Welcome back, colleagues. This is the ninth meeting of the Subcommittee on International Human Rights. Today we will have a briefing with the Canadian Group of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, followed by some subcommittee work that will be in camera.
To ensure an orderly meeting, I encourage everybody to have their microphones on mute. When your time comes up for questions, when you have 30 seconds left I'll flash this card so you'll see how much time is remaining. For those who require interpretation, you'll see the globe at the bottom of your screen, which you can click on for English or French.
With no further ado, I'll welcome our witness, somebody who is no stranger to all of us. I'll refer to him as the Honourable David McGuinty, and also as MP or Mr. President of the Canadian Group of the Inter-Parliamentary Union.
Welcome, David. Thank you for joining us here and being able to give us your brief and then take questions.
Your colleague David Cunningham Carter will join us when he can.
You'll have five minutes at this time.
View David McGuinty Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair; and good evening, colleagues. It's good to see so many of you again.
Thank you very much for your interest in the Inter-Parliamentary Union, IPU, and specifically its committee on the human rights of parliamentarians.
The Parliament of Canada has a long history with the IPU, having formerly joined the organization in 1912 and reconstituting the modern-day Canadian group of the IPU in 1960.
Today, the Canadian group has 68 members of Parliament and 25 senators as members.
I'm here today—hopefully soon—with my colleague, the Right Honourable David Carter, until very recently a member of the New Zealand Parliament, a former speaker and a former very active member of the IPU's committee on the human rights of parliamentarians.
The Inter-Parliamentary Union, which celebrated its 130th anniversary in 2019, is a global group that brings together national parliaments from around the world. It is the oldest organization of its kind. It currently brings together 179 national parliaments. It works closely with the United Nations to promote democracy, peace and co-operation among peoples.
The Inter-Parliamentary Union is interested in a multitude of topics, such as tensions in the Middle East, health, sustainable development, violent extremism, international humanitarian missions, and young parliamentarians.
Its Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians is the only international mechanism that seeks to protect and defend legislators experiencing such human rights violations as torture, kidnapping, murder, arbitrary arrest and detention.
This committee, consisting of 10 parliamentarians from around the world, carries out in-country missions and meets in camera several times a year to examine ongoing cases and new complaints. Its most recent report and decisions, released in November 2020, addressed cases involving 160 members of national parliaments from 13 countries, including Venezuela, Belarus, Uganda, the Philippines and Egypt.
These are only a portion of those the committee examined in 2020. They confirm an overall upward trend in violations of parliamentarians' human rights, 85% of which are cases involving opposition members.
The list of alleged human rights violations documented in the 2020 report includes murder, torture and other acts of violence, intimidation, arbitrary arrest and detention, abduction, lack of due process and fair trial proceedings and violations of freedom of opinion and expression.
Generally speaking, the committee's decisions do four things. First, they provide a detailed description of the complaint. Then they express concern for the alleged violation of human rights, followed by an affirmation of the IPU's readiness to support capacity-building within various public institutions. Finally, they encourage parliamentary, governmental and judicial authorities to take the appropriate measures to ensure that the human rights of parliamentarians are in fact protected.
I encourage members here this evening, many of whom are actually members of the IPU but may not know much about the committee for the protection of the human rights of parliamentarians, to ask my esteemed colleague Mr. Carter for more detailed information about the committee's procedures.
The information contained in these reports really serves no purpose, if awareness of them remains limited to those who participate in the IPU. Their value, I feel, and I think our executive committee of the IPU in Canada feels, is magnified when they are broadly promoted and more clearly integrated into the work of national parliaments.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair and colleagues, for your kind attention.
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