23 November 2017

Swaziland: King 'Exploits Forced Child Workers'

King Mswati III, the absolute monarch in Swaziland, has been named in an global report on human trafficking for forcing children to work in his fields.

One organisation has called this modern day 'slavery'.

It is not the first time the King has been criticised for using forced labour.

The annual Trafficking in Persons Report for 2017 from the United States State Department stated it had been reporting conditions in Swaziland for the past five years. It said, 'Swazis are culturally expected to participate in the seasonal weeding and harvesting of the King's fields and those who may refuse are subject to coercion through threats and intimidation by their chiefs.'

A report Child Labor and Forced Labor from the US Department of Labor looking at 2016 stated penalties imposed by chiefs included 'evicting families from their village and confiscating livestock'.

King Mswati was at the centre of an international controversy in January 2015 when Swazi Media Commentary revealed that schools in Swaziland were forced to stay closed after Christmas so children could weed the King's fields. As many as 30,000 children were thought to have missed schooling as a result.

The Global Slavery Index for 2016 reported that the Swazi Government 'attempted to backtrack on its intentions when its use of unpaid child labour was reported by international media'.

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