"Stop attacking our colleagues!"

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LARGE-SCALE harassment of politicians could be a matter for The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), an international body speaking up for persecuted MPs.

And right now, Venezuela is its greatest concern.

This week the IPU-based Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians urged Venezuelan authorities to stop harassing as many as 60 opposition members.

Many of the MPs have reported physical attacks, arbitrary arrests, travel bans, and a general lack of respect for parliamentary immunity, the IPU committee stated.

“The intimidation and harassment that my parliamentary colleagues are facing in Venezuela is intolerable,” said Committee President and Serbian MP, Aleksandra Jerkov, in an IPU statement, appealing to the Venezuelan authorities “to immediately stop attacking our colleagues.”

“Respect for their parliamentary work and the integrity of the National Assembly is absolutely crucial to finding a peaceful solution to the ongoing crisis in Venezuela,” concluded Aleksandra Jerkov.

The committee mentioned some of the harassed MPs by name, among them the opposition leader Juan Guaidó, speaker of the National Assembly, who declared himself president on 23 January.

The IPU has asked the Venezuelan government to justify ongoing restrictions, including a travel ban, against Juan Guaidó after the Supreme Court launched an investigation on 29 January.

“The Committee also remains concerned about the circumstances surrounding Juan Guido’s brief, but arbitrary arrest on 13 January in which he was reportedly injured,” said the IPU statement.

Also the UN has expressed its concern with the alleged harassment of the opposition members, quoting the IPU committee findings at an official UN website, adding that more than 40 MPs had faced physical attacks and six had fled the country whereas one was sheltering in the Chilean embassy in the Venezuelan capital, Caracas.

The Inter-Parliamentary Union has released its latest decisions after considering the cases of 417 members of parliament from 37 countries.

The IPU Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians, the only international body with a special remit to defend persecuted MPs, took decisions on 126 MPs, most of which concern opposition MPs in Venezuela.

The committee has a mandate to defend the human rights of persecuted MPs. Its work includes mobilizing the international parliamentary community to support threatened MPs, lobbying national authorities, and sending trial observers.

The Committee is made up of 10 MPs, representing the major regions of the world, and elected by their peers for a mandate of five years.

Source: The Inter-Parliamentary Union.

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