24 May 2013

Swaziland Still Violates Freedoms

The rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly continued to be violated in Swaziland during 2012, Amnesty International said in its annual report, just published.

There were also 'arbitrary arrests and excessive force used to crush political protests,' the report stated.

In a review of 2012, Amnesty International, global human rights organisation, said, 'torture and other ill-treatment remained a persistent concern' in Swaziland.

Amnesty noted that in May 2012 the African Commission on Human Rights adopted a resolution 'expressing alarm' at the Swazi Government's failure to implement previous decisions and recommendations of the Commission relating to the rights of freedom of expression, association, and assembly.

Amnesty International's report stated these violations included the use by police of, 'rubber bullets, tear gas and batons to break up demonstrations and gatherings viewed as illegal'.

Swaziland is in economic and political upheaval at present, with an economy close to collapse and growing demands for King Mswati III, who rules the kingdom as sub-Saharan Africa's last absolute monarch, to implement political reforms.

A parliamentary election due in Swaziland later this year has focussed attention on the lack of democracy in the kingdom.

All political parties are banned from taking part in the elections and many other major political parties have been branded 'terrorists' and banned from operating altogether because they are advocating for democracy in the kingdom.

Police and security services have been accused of operating as private militias for King Mswati's regime.

In its report, Amnesty also stated, 'Torture and other ill-treatment remained a concern, with a High Court judge in April [2012] calling for a commission of inquiry into repeated allegations by accused in criminal trials that they had been subjected to torture, which included beatings and suffocation.

'Deaths under suspicious circumstances and the failure of the authorities to ensure independent investigation and accountability continued to cause concern. Police and members of the military were implicated in the reported incidents.'

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