22 April 2013

Swaziland: Police 'Torture Political Activists'

Photo: Darron Raw
His Majesty, King Mswati III.

Two political activists arrested at an election rally in Swaziland have been tortured by police, the kingdom's Communist Party says.

Mfanawenkhosi 'BOER' Mntshali and Derrick Nkambule, both members of the banned political party, People's United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), were at a rally to discuss boycotting Swaziland's forthcoming election.

In a statement, the Communist Party of Swaziland said the two men were taken by a special police squad to police HQ in Mbabane, the kingdom's capital.

The statement said, 'Information is coming in that the two comrades are undergoing an intensified torture session at the Police headquarters in Mbabane , this is a violation of the normal procedure recognized internationally that when a suspect is apprehended he /she is kept in a police station and charged within 48 working hours.'

The statement said the police HQ had 'special interrogation chambers which are well equipped for torturing suspects'.

The police have kept the two men in isolation and not allowed them to speak to lawyers.

Earlier this month (April 2013), the US Embassy in Swaziland said it had 'deep concern' about the way police engage in 'acts of intimidation and fear' against people seeking their political rights. This was after police broke up a public meeting in Manzini to discuss the election.

The Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) also this month reported that recently Swaziland police and state security forces had shown 'increasingly violent and abusive behaviour' that was leading to the 'militarization' of the kingdom.

OSISA told the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR) meeting in The Gambia, 'There are also reliable reports of a general militarization of the country through the deployment of the Swazi army, police and correctional services to clamp down on any peaceful protest action by labour or civil society organisations ahead of the country's undemocratic elections.'

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