4 May 2017

Swaziland: Investigate 'Police Brutality' - Court

A senior magistrate in Swaziland has called for an investigation into alleged brutality at one of the kingdom's police stations.

Sindisile Zwane said she has noted that there have been a lot of complaints by suspects who were brought in to her court from Matsapha Sigodvweni Police Station.

She made her comment after a suspect appeared before her with a bandaged head. The Swazi Observer newspaper reported on Tuesday (2 May 2017) the woman suspect, 'was beaten by police officers based at Sigodvweni Police Station [and] suffered severe injuries to the head and as a result had to be stitched in hospital before she was taken to custody.' She had been arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol.

The newspaper reported the magistrate said it was 'becoming the norm' for suspects to complain of being assaulted by police officers at Sigodvweni.

The newspaper added, 'The senior magistrate warned the police officers to stop taking the law into their own hands, as she said such a habit of beating up suspects is bad and if police continue, it might end up leading to fatalities.'

In June 2016, a United Nations review panel looking into human rights in Swaziland was told in a joint report by four organisations, 'In Mbabane [the Swazi capital], police tortured a 15-year-old boy after his mother had reported him for stealing E85.00 (US$6). The boy alleges that he was beaten with a slasher (metal blade tool for cutting grass) and knobkerrie (club) for five hours. While enduring the pain, he alleges that he was made to count the strokes aloud for the police to hear. Instead of being charged, the boy was physically assaulted and made to sit in a chair for thirty minutes before he was sent back home.'

The report was submitted to the United Human Rights Council Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review of Swaziland by the Swaziland Multi-Media Community Network, Swaziland Concerned Church Leaders, Swaziland Coalition of Concerned Civic Organisations and Constituent Assembly - Swaziland.

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