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Resolution regarding Malalai Joya adopted unanimously by the IPU Governing Council at its 185th session

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Inter-Parliamentary Union, Geneva, 21 October 2009

The Governing Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union,

Referring to the case of Ms. Malalai Joya, a member of the House of Representatives of Afghanistan, as outlined in the report of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians (CL/185/11(b)-R.1), and to the resolution adopted at its 184th session (April 2009),

Taking into account the meeting which Committee held with the leader of the Afghan delegation during the 121st Assembly,

Recalling that on 21 May 2007 the House of the People of Afghanistan (Wolesi Jirga) decided to suspend the parliamentary mandate of Ms. Joya until the end of her term (September 2010) for violating Article 70 of the Standing Orders by way of speaking disparagingly about parliament in a television interview; Ms. Joya, who in that interview had compared the parliament to an animal stable, has always stated that her remarks were edited out of context; in her statement, she had divided parliamentarians into two groups - one of which was working to uphold democratic principles while the other was undermining them, thereby serving the Afghan population less than animals in a stable; recalling also that parliamentary colleagues have called her a prostitute or a whore, and noting in this regard that, according to the leader of the Afghan delegation, the parliamentarians uttering those words were reprimanded by the Speaker but have not been suspended,

Considering that the complaint which Ms. Joya filed with the Supreme Court in February 2008 regarding the suspension of her mandate has so far not been considered by the Court, and that the attempts by Ms. Joya’s lawyer to contact the court and the parliament have been to no avail; that in mid-2008 her lawyer stressed in a letter to the parliamentary Hearings and Complaints Committee that no action had been taken in the eight months since the case had been brought to the attention of the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs and asked the Committee to help speed up the matter; however, his letter was reportedly rejected and met with a response from the Committee’s chairperson telling him not to tread on dangerous ground,

Recalling that, in October 2008, the Deputy Speaker of the House of the People stated unequivocally that the suspension of Ms. Joya’s mandate until the end of her term was unlawful and he gave assurances that parliament would make every effort to reinstate her before the end of December 2008; in his meeting with the IPU Secretary General, the Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations Office at Geneva also expressed the view that parliament should reinstate Ms. Joya as quickly as possible; the Chairperson of the Committee on Immunity and Privileges, in his letter of 5 February 2009, and the Afghan delegation to the 120th IPU Assembly (April 2009) stated that Ms. Joya could be reinstated if she offered an apology; however, when confronted with the Deputy Speaker’s previous statements that the suspension had been unlawful and that efforts would be made to reinstate her, the delegation confirmed those statements but added that it had been impossible to reach Ms. Joya as she was often abroad, that she had never contacted parliament and her lawyer had done so only once, but merely to collect documents, and that the Standing Orders contained no procedure for reinstating her; noting that the evidence on file shows that Ms. Joya is frequently in Afghanistan and that her lawyer had attempted several times to contact parliament, to no avail,

Considering that, at the meeting with the Committee held during the 121st Assembly, the leader of the Afghan delegation reiterated that Parliament had been unable to contact Ms. Joya and requested the Committee to inform her that the Elders of Parliament had decided that she would be reinstated if she offered an apology for the words she had used; that there was no problem or dispute regarding her and that this would be the best opportunity to reinstate her,

Considering that Ms. Joya, in a letter to the Committee, has made clear her wish to be reinstated, but is not prepared to apologize for her remarks,

Considering that on 16 September 2009 the Attorney General’s Office, referring to the request of the Wolesi Jirga of 29 May 2007 that she be prosecuted under Article 24 of the Constitution on account of insulting parliament and the Government, invited her to state whether she wished to answer the questions of the Attorney General’s Office or to keep silent; noting that the leader of the delegation did not provide any information in this respect,

Recalling that Ms. Joya has constantly been receiving death threats and that her safety in Afghanistan is in jeopardy, as is that of many other members of parliament,

Bearing in mind that Afghanistan is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which guarantees the right to life and to security and freedom of expression; that Afghanistan is also a party to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), which upholds the principle of the equality of men and women,

  1. Thanks the leader of the Afghan delegation to the 121st Assembly for his cooperation;
  2. Is appalled that, although the parliamentary authorities had made it clear that Ms. Joya should be reinstated, she continues to be deprived of the mandate that her electors entrusted to her, which prevents her from representing their voice, and particularly the voice of women in parliament;
  3. Stresses once again thatthe suspension of her parliamentary mandate for the rest of her term is tantamount to a revocation of her mandate, and that no legal provision authorizes the parliament to take such a measure on account of the statements she made;
  4. Fails to understand how the parliamentary authorities can possibly ask her to apologize for her remarks as a condition of reinstatement, when the colleagues who had called her a prostitute and whore were not asked to apologize and were not suspended; calls therefore on the parliamentary authorities to treat her on a par with her male colleagues and to reinstate her without further delay;
  5. Reaffirms that the Parliament of Afghanistan is fully empowered to do so through a simple decision, if and when it pleases, and that such a decision would be in keeping with its own rules and regulations;
  6. Deplores the Supreme Court’s failure to act on Ms. Joya’s complaint, which it should have examined as a matter of priority, and considers that such failure sheds a harsh light on the way it administers justice;
  7. Is concerned that criminal proceedings have been instituted against Ms. Joya regarding her remarks about parliament, and wishes to be kept informed of developments in this respect;
  8. Recognizes that the death threats against Ms. Joya are made in the context of generalized violence and insecurity in Afghanistan; considers, however, that the authorities nevertheless have a duty to investigate threats on the lives of persons as otherwise the circle of impunity will never end;
  9. Requests the Secretary General to convey this resolution to the parties concerned;
  10. Requests the Committee to continue examining this case and report to it at its next session, to be held on the occasion of the 122nd IPU Assembly (March-April 2010).