30 May 2017

Swaziland: 'No Terror Threat in Swaziland'

There are no known terrorist groups operating in Swaziland, but even so the government has banned several local organisations as terrorist groups, a new report from the United States has revealed.

Police see no difference between protestors and bystanders and will fire teargas and rubber bullets at close range to disperse protestors.

These insights were contained in a report from the United States Department of State Bureau of Diplomatic Security, just published. It is aimed at American diplomats in Swaziland.

The report assessed the Swaziland capital Mbabane as a 'low-threat location for political violence'. It stated, 'In 2016, there were no acts of terrorism in Swaziland and no known terrorist organizations. Through the Swazi Suppression of Terrorism Act of 2008, the government deemed several local political organizations as terrorist groups.'

Swaziland is ruled by King Mswati III as an absolute monarch. Political parties are banned from taking part in elections and the King choses the Prime Minister, cabinet ministers and senior judges among others.

In September 2015, Amnesty International reported the Swazi government continued to use 'repressive laws, including the 1938 Sedition and Subversive Activities Act (SSA Act) and the 2008 Suppression of Terrorism Act (STA) as a tactic to silence its critics and suppress their rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly.'

It added, 'Critics of Africa's last remaining absolute monarchy, who regularly advocate for the opening up of the political space in the country and the respect for human rights, are put in jail or face other forms of harassment, including persecution and surveillance. The government is also misusing its criminal justice system to criminalize and stigmatise their activities, imposing charges like contempt of court or sedition.'

The report from the United States called Swaziland 2017 Crime & Safety Report also said civil unrest in Swaziland was limited to public protests. It added, 'Civil servant demonstrations and strikes are fairly common. These demonstrations, which are widely advertised in local media, are usually in response to labor/political disputes.'

It said, 'When a demonstration is pending, the Royal Swaziland Police Service (RSPS) is called out to monitor. Americans are cautioned to stay away from demonstrations, as the police use non-lethal force to control and disperse protestors; teargas and rubber bullets (shot at close range) are the most common forms of crowd control. Police have also shot warning shots in the air to disperse protestors.

'Police do not distinguish between bystanders and protestors, and the possibility of becoming a collateral casualty should be of concern to anyone in proximity to a demonstration.'

Swaziland

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