Swaziland: 2013 - Year of Repression in Swaziland

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Two men who threw stones at the car of Qethuka Dlamini, one of King Mswati III's official 'praise singers', were jailed for 11 years and nine years. One of the men is said to have told Dlamini he detested him for working closely with the king.

The European Union (EU) told King Mswati he must allow political parties to operate in his kingdom. It said it was important that international principles of democracy were upheld in Swaziland, where the king rules as sub-Saharan Africa's last absolute monarch. The call came at the end of a two-day visit to Swaziland by an EU delegation.

The Industrial Court backed the government and declared the kingdom's only labour federation illegal. It said that the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) was improperly registered.

The row over the legality of TUCOSWA had been continuing since shortly after it was formed in March 2012, following the amalgamation of the Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions (SFTU) and the Swaziland Federation of Labour (SFL). TUCOSWA became embroiled in controversy after it declared it would not support the national election in Swaziland this year.

A 'battalion of police officers,' without a court order, stopped a prayer meeting in Swaziland's main city Manzini, claiming it was illegal. The police, carrying batons, took control of the Caritas Centre and stopped a commemoration prayer called by TUCOSWA. Riot police later arrived to ensure that no prayers took place.

April

The Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) condemned Swazi police for their 'increasingly violent and abusive behaviour' that was leading to the 'militarization' of the kingdom.

It said in a report to the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR) meeting in The Gambia things were so bad in the kingdom that police were unable to accept that peaceful political and social dissent is a vital element of a healthy democratic process, and should not be viewed as a crime.

About 80 armed police, acting without a court order, blocked a public debate to mark the 40th anniversary of the Royal Decree made by King Sobhuza II in 1973 that turned Swaziland from a democracy to a kingdom ruled by an autocratic monarchy.

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