16 November 2012

Swaziland: Cops Train Human Rights Abusers

opinion

Swaziland is training police officers from Equatorial Guinea, one of the few countries in Africa with arguably a human rights record as bad as King Mswati III's kingdom.

Thirty cadet officers are in Matsapha for the start of a course scheduled to last 12 months. Swaziland has signed an agreement with Equatorial Guinea to train police officers for five years.

Equatorial Guinea has an appalling human rights record committed by its police and other state security forces.

The US State Department, in a report on Equatorial Guinea published in May 2012, revealed, 'Corruption and impunity continued to be problems. Security forces extorted money from citizens and immigrants at police checkpoints. There was no internal investigation unit within the police, and mechanisms to investigate allegations of abuse were poorly developed.'

It added, 'security forces sometimes committed abuses with impunity. The government did not maintain effective internal or external mechanisms to investigate security force abuses.'

Lawyers in the country report arbitrary arrests. 'Lawyers did not have access to police stations and could not contact detainees while they were held there; police superintendents when interviewed stated they did not see the need for or advisability of such access.

'Police raids on immigrant communities, local stores, and restaurants increased in the period preceding the African Union Summit in June [2011].

'Reliable sources reported that many legal as well as irregular immigrants were abused, extorted, or detained during such raids. Police occasionally used excessive force to detain and deport detainees, and almost all foreign embassies in the country criticized the government during the year for its harassment, abuse, extortion, and detention without representation of foreign nationals. Many detainees complained about the bribes required for release from detention.'

'Several members of the largest opposition political party, the Convergence Party for Social Democracy (CPDS), were arrested, briefly detained, and released.'

Swazi Commissioner of Police Isaac Magagula 'expressed pleasure' at an opening ceremony that Swaziland and Equatorial Guinean were working closely together. He said the two countries' police forces needed to collaborate more.

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