"Dramatic rise" in threats to South-East Asian MPs, says APHR


BANGKOK, Dec 4 (Bernama): Asean Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) has raised concern over dramatic rise in the number of Member of Parliaments (MPs) detained across Southeast Asia.

In its newly released annual report, "Parliamentarians at Risk: Reprisals against opposition MPs in Southeast Asia in 2021”, APRH said the number of MPs detained rose from just one in 2020 to 91 in 2021, largely due to developments in Myanmar, where the military seized power in a coup in February.

The report said there have also been alarming developments elsewhere in the region, including Thailand, the Philippines, and Malaysia.

Although not featured in detail, the report said former opposition lawmakers have also been targeted in Cambodia.

"Across South-East Asia, parliamentarians are increasingly at risk.

"Lawmakers who use their mandates to defend human rights or to hold power to account have for years been targeted through trumped-up criminal charges, threats and harassment, physical violence, and detention.

"In 2021, we continued to see MPs targeted, to a large extent because of the military coup in Myanmar and its devastating aftermath, but also due to alarming developments elsewhere,” it said.

The report said the governments used responses to Covid-19 to unjustifiably silence democratic debate, including by bringing politically-motivated cases against critics and lawmakers who expressed dissenting views.

The report alleged Covid-19 was used as an excuse to suspend elections and parliament for more than seven months in Malaysia.

"Judicial harassment against MPs continued in countries like Thailand and the Philippines, and escalated substantially in Malaysia. Legal cases rarely lead to convictions but are instead filed to harass MPs and muzzle freedom of expression.

"Online abuse and harassment of MPs continued at an alarming rate throughout the region, often through coordinated disinformation campaigns. In the Philippines, such abuse spiked ahead of the upcoming elections in 2022,” it said.

Meanwhile, an APHR Board Member and former Philippines MP, Teddy Baguilat Jr said the systematic harassment of MPs - whether online, offline, judicial or otherwise - is clearly aimed at preventing them from doing their jobs, and acting as a check and balance on behalf of the people.

"An attack on an MP is an attack on democracy... The role of MPs is absolutely crucial in a democracy, particularly during the pandemic of the last two years, or as elections approach, as is the case in the Philippines and Cambodia,” he said at the launch of the report via webinar today. - Bernama

Article type: free
User access status:
Join our Telegram channel to get our Evening Alerts and breaking news highlights

APHR , Member of Parliaments , Asean , Human Rights

   

Next In Aseanplus News

Singapore: Isolation period cut from 10 days to seven for those fully vaccinated against Covid-19
Asean News Headlines at 10pm on Friday (Jan 21, 2022)
Thailand records 8,640 Covid-19 cases and 13 deaths on Friday (Jan 21)
Indonesia court extends Garuda debt restructuring amid ballooning claims
Cases still very high as Philippines logs 32,744 new Covid-19 cases and 156 more deaths on Friday (Jan 21)
Vietnam reports 15,935 new Covid-19 cases and now 2,110,737 in total as of Friday (Jan 21)
G20 in Indonesia to offer RP1.7 trillion benefits to MSME sector
UNHCR urges Thailand to transfer Myanmar refugees to a safe location
Thai ruling party squabble risks economic agenda and early polls
Vietnam Airlines to resume regular flights to Europe next week

Others Also Read


Vouchers