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Resolution of Inter-Parliamentary Union adopted at its 122nd Assembly on the case of Malalai Joya

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Resolution adopted unanimously by the IPU Governing Council at its 186th session
(Bangkok, 1 April 2010)

IPU, April 1, 2010

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/186/12(b)-R.1), and to the resolution adopted at its 185th session (October 2009),

Noting that, at the session it held during the 122nd Assembly, the Committee met with a member of the delegation of Afghanistan, Mr. Gailani Sayed Ishaq,

Recalling the following:

  • On 21 May 2007 the House of Representatives (Wolesi Jirga) of Afghanistan suspended Ms. Joya's parliamentary mandate until the end of her term (September 2010) for violating Article 70 of the Standing Orders by speaking disparagingly about parliament and its members in a television interview; the requisite procedure was not followed since the suspension of a member for more than one day must first be proposed by the Advisory Board, which had not been done; several parliamentary colleagues have criticized parliament's decision to suspend her, some of them publicly in an article published in the "Daily 8 a.m." newspaper on 31 October 2008;

  • The parliamentary authorities have said that she would be reinstated and, apart from the Deputy Speaker, who in October 2008 told the Committee that she would be reinstated before the end of the parliamentary session that year, insisted that she would, however, have to apologize for her remarks; Ms. Joya refuses to do so, affirming that they were taken out of context and that she was not criticizing parliament as a whole but only certain members of parliament; moreover, the sources have affirmed that parliamentary colleagues who had called her a prostitute and a whore and urged that she be raped or killed, were reprimanded by the Speaker but have not been suspended or asked to apologize to her, as confirmed by the leader of the Afghan delegation to the 121st IPU Assembly;

  • In common with many other women parliamentarians, Ms. Joya has been the target of death threats, and she has reportedly survived four assassination attempts,

Recalling that, while the complaint lodged by Ms. Joya with the Supreme Court against her suspension has not been examined, the Attorney General's Office has acted on a complaint filed by parliament in February 2007 requesting that she be prosecuted under Article 246 of the Penal Code (which punishes insulting public institutions) on account of the same statement which had led to her suspension, and that this case is proceeding; noting in this respect that, at his meeting with the Committee, Mr. Gailani stated that it was not an important matter and that parliament "would stop that",

Considering that, according to Mr. Gailani, parliament has attempted to contact Ms. Joya, who most of the time is out of the country, to invite her to return to the parliament, unfortunately to no avail; that she herself has never written to the parliamentary authorities about her reinstatement; that he undertook to make a final effort to contact her before the parliament's term ends; noting also that he referred to an interview she gave stating that her security in Afghanistan was under threat, preventing her from returning to the country,

Considering finally that, according to Mr. Gailani, there is nothing to prevent Ms. Joya from standing in the elections, which will be held in Afghanistan in September 2010,

Bearing in mind that, in September 2009, the United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan (UNAMA) published a report on violence against women in Afghanistan, entitled "Silence is violence"; it shows that the risk to women in Afghanistan has increased in recent years and that the pattern of violence against women in public life sends a strong message to all women to stay at home and that the report also denounces the impunity enjoyed by perpetrators,

  1. Thanks the Afghan delegation for its cooperation;

  2. Is pleased to note that the parliament is prepared to withdraw its complaint in the criminal case against Ms. Joya, and looks forward to receiving notice thereof as soon as possible;

  3. Is also pleased to note that there is no legal obstacle debarring Ms. Joya from standing in the forthcoming elections;

  4. Remains nevertheless deeply concerned that Ms. Joya has to date not been reinstated and that, in failing to reinstate her, the House of Representatives is prolonging a situation which infringes its own Standing Orders - for Ms. Joya has in fact been expelled and not merely suspended from parliament - and that hence she continues not only to be prevented from exercising the mandate entrusted to her by her constituents but also leaves her constituents without representation in parliament;

  5. Also remains deeply concerned at the discriminatory treatment of her given that her male colleagues who had, in parliament, called her a whore and prostitute and urged that she be raped and killed have simply been reprimanded and never asked to apologize to her; and considers therefore that the punishment meted out to her infringed her right to equality before the law set forth in Article 22 of the Constitution of Afghanistan;

  6. Considers, moreover, that her discriminatory and arbitrary treatment can only discourage women from participating in the political affairs of their country;

  7. Calls therefore once again on the parliamentary authorities to reinstate Ms. Joya before the parliamentary term ends, thus making at least a symbolic gesture towards redressing the wrong caused to her and her constituents, thereby sending a positive signal to women that their participation in politics is welcome; invites Ms. Joya to write to the parliamentary authorities to facilitate such reinstatement;

  8. Requests the Secretary General to convey this resolution to the authorities and the sources;

  9. Requests the Committee to continue examining this case and report to it at its next session, to be held on the occasion of the 123rd IPU Assembly (October 2010).