Arbitrary removal of parliamentarians undermines the rule of law

Press release
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12 October 2011 - FIDH urgently calls on the Afghan authorities to take immediate action to initiate a constructive dialogue with Afghan parliamentarian Mrs Simin Barakzai which would hopefully lead her to interrupt her hunger strike.

Mrs Barakzai began a hunger strike on October 2 and her health condition is now seriously and quickly deteriorating. The purpose of the strike was to oppose the exclusion of nine parliamentarians, including Mrs Barakzai, by the Independent Election Commission, 10 months after the parliament had been sworn in, on mere allegations of fraud which have so far not been substantiated. Mrs. Barakzai is a member of the Afghanistan parliament’s Law Support Coalition.

The circumstances of the exclusion, which took place manu militari, should be subject to an independent, impartial and credible investigation. Until such an investigation publicly produces credible evidence substantiating the allegations of fraud made against the nine parliamentarians, the Independent Election Commission should reinstate Mrs Barakzai and the other eight excluded parliamentarians without delay. The results of such an investigation should be made public and be thoroughly studied and commented by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).

It is crucial that the separation of powers between the different branches of government be respected, as this is the cornerstone of all democratic processes.

It is alarming that the Afghan government has resorted to extra-constitutional means to remove democratically elected legislators, without proof and in total disregard of due process. In a context where gross human rights violations are widespread in Afghanistan, such blatant violations of democratic principles and political rights further undermine the already fragile rule of law and erode public trust in the capacity of state institutions to protect its own citizens. Mme Barakzai is a 30-year old woman, whose current situation raises serious concerns concerning respect for women rights and fundamental freedoms today in Afghanistan.

FIDH calls on the international community to take urgent measures to assist Afghanistan to strengthen its democratic institutions and practices, including by establishing through the UN Human Rights Council a Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights Situation in Afghanistan.

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