22 November 2013

Swaziland: Swazi Gift From Human Rights Abusers

Swaziland has received an E1 million (US$ 100,000) gift from Kazakhstan, a country with one of the worst human rights records in the world.

As in Swaziland, the Kazakhstan government sets security forces to attack its own citizens.

In December 2011 government troops opened fire and killed 12 people and wounded dozens more during a protest supporting striking oil workers who had gathered in Zhanaozen's central square.

Human Rights Watch reported no officers were held accountable for the killings. It also reported that in December 2011, police detained hundreds of people in Zhanaozen, several of whom stated that police kicked and beat detainees with truncheons, stripped them naked, walked on them, and subjected them to freezing temperatures.

Human Rights Watch reported, 'In March, defendants at one of the trials following the Zhanaozen events testified that guards and investigators subjected them to physical and psychological abuse, including beatings, suffocation, and threats of rape or harm to family members. The prosecutor's office declined to open a criminal investigation.'

Like Swaziland, Kazakhstan, a country in Asia formed after the Soviet Union broke up, has recently held elections. And, also like Swaziland international observers declared they were not free and fair.

Swaziland has received its E1 million grant as a thank you for supporting the Kazakhstan Government in bidding and eventually winning the right to host the expo 2017 world fair.

Swaziland, which is ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa's last absolute monarch, has a long history of dealing with countries that abuse human rights.

At present it has a deal with Equatorial Guinea to train its police officers.

The US State Department, in a report on Equatorial Guinea published in May 2012, revealed, corruption and impunity continued to be big human rights problems in Equatorial Guinea.

'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.

Swaziland is also busy developing ties with Iran. In May 2013, it was announced that ties between the two nations would be expanded. Ministers from the Swazi Government regularly visit the dictators in Iran.

Swaziland has a murky relationship with the dictators in Iran.

In February 2011, the Guardian newspaper in the UK reported that Britain had blocked a $60m sale of helicopters, armoured cars and machine guns to Swaziland, fearing the weapons could end up in Iran. The report was based on cables between US diplomats that had been published by Wikileaks.

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