22 March 2017

Swaziland: Security Forces 'Not Under Control'

Security forces in Swaziland are not kept under proper control, a new report on human rights in the kingdom has revealed. And, about 35 percent of the entire Swazi Government workforce was assigned to security-related functions.

The annual report on human rights in Swaziland just published by the United States Department of State stated King Mswati III ruled as an absolute monarch and he and his mother exercised ultimate authority over the cabinet, legislature, and judiciary.

The report stated, 'The King is the commander in chief of the Umbutfo Swaziland Defence Force (USDF), holds the position of Minister of Defence, and is the commander of the Royal Swaziland Police Service (RSPS)and the His Majesty's Correctional Services (HMCS). He presides over a civilian Principal Secretary of Defence and a commanding general. Approximately 35 percent of the government workforce was assigned to security-related functions.'

The report added, 'The RSPS is responsible for maintaining internal security as well as migration and border crossing enforcement. The USDF is responsible for external security but also has domestic security responsibilities, including protecting members of the royal family.

'The Prime Minister oversees the RSPS, and the Principal Secretary of Defence and the army commander are responsible for day-to-day USDF oversight. The HMCS is responsible for the protection, incarceration, and rehabilitation of convicted persons and keeping order within HMCS institutions. HMCS personnel, however, routinely worked alongside police during protests and demonstrations. While the conduct of the RSPS, USDF, and HMCS was generally professional, members of all three forces were susceptible to political pressure and corruption.'

The 33-page report concluded, 'Impunity was a problem. Although there were mechanisms to investigate and punish abuse and corruption, there were few prosecutions or disciplinary actions taken against security officers accused of abuses.

'The internal RSPS complaints and discipline unit investigated reports of police abuse and corruption but did not release its findings to the public. In most cases the RSPS transferred police officers found responsible for violations to other offices or departments within the police system.'

It added, 'Civilian authorities failed at times to maintain effective control over the security forces.'


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