27 February 2017

Swaziland: Judges Appointed Unconstitutionally

King Mswati III, the autocratic ruler of Swaziland, appointed seven judges to the Supreme Court in contravention of the kingdom's Constitution, Amnesty International has reported.

As a result, the Law Society of Swaziland boycotted the November Supreme Court session and demanded the appointment of permanent judges in line with Section 153 of the Constitution, which stipulates that judges be appointed in an open, transparent and competitive process.

Amnesty said in its just published annual report on human rights in the kingdom that in other legal developments, the High Court ruled that sections of the 1938 Sedition and Subversive Activities Act (SSA) and the 2008 Suppression of Terrorism Act (STA) were invalid as they infringed on constitutionally protected rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly. The judgment came after provisions in the laws were challenged in the applications filed in 2009 by human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko. Thulani Maseko was charged under the SSA in 2009.

Another application was filed in 2014 by Mario Masuku and Maxwell Dlamini, leaders of the banned opposition People's United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), who were charged under both Acts in 2014; and by Mlungisi Makhanya and seven others, who were also charged under the Acts in 2014.

Amnesty also reported that a Public Order Bill, going through Parliament, if passed, would undermine rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association.

'Among other things, it would criminalize the act of organizing a public gathering without prior notification to the authorities. The bill, which was expected to be passed by the kingdom's unelected Senate, before being ratified by the King, remained in draft form at the end of the year,' it stated.


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