Reporters Without Borders is the latest international freedom organisation to criticise Swaziland's High Court for fining Nation magazine editor Bheki Makhubu for 'scandalising' the court.
Makhubu faces immediate imprisonment for two years if he cannot pay a E200,000 (US$22,000) fine by tomorrow (23 April 2013). Makhubu was convicted after two articles he wrote criticising the Swazi judiciary appeared in the Nation magazine.
Reporters Without Borders said in a statement, 'This harsh sentence, which violates freedom of expression, was handed down by a court acting as plaintiff and judge at the same time. We urge the high court to respect Swaziland's constitution, which guarantees media freedom.'
Reporters Without Borders joins Amnesty International, the Media Institute of Southern Africa, Ifex, South African National Editors' Forum, Freedom House and the Centre for Human Rights; as well as individual media houses and political parties in condemning the conviction.
Makhubu told local media he could not afford to pay the fine. He is expected to appeal the verdict.