Swaziland Still 'Not Free,' Human Rights Group Freedom House Reports

Freedom House, the global group that works to defend human rights and promote democratic change, has once again declared that Swaziland (eSwatini) is 'not free'.

In its annual report on human rights in the kingdom ruled by absolute monarch King Mswati III, Freedom House scored Swaziland 19 out of 100 points. This was the same score it gave for 2020.

Freedom House awarded Swaziland one point out of 40 for 'political rights' and 18 out of 60 for 'civil liberties' in its 2021 Freedom in the World report.

It will release a full report on human rights in Swaziland at a later date.

In an overview of the kingdom, Freedom House reported, 'The king exercises ultimate authority over all branches of the national government and effectively controls local governance through his influence over traditional chiefs. Political dissent and civic and labor activism are subject to harsh punishment under sedition and other laws. Additional human rights problems include impunity for security forces and discrimination against women and LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) people.'

It added, 'Freedom in the World assesses the real-world rights and freedoms enjoyed by individuals, rather than governments or government performance per se.'

Last month (February 2021), Human Rights Watch in its annual review of Swaziland said the kingdom was gripped by restrictions in freedoms of assembly and association.

In 2020, Reporters Without Borders ranked Swaziland 141 out of 180 countries on media freedom, based partly on constraints that journalists faced in working freely under the absolute monarchy, and because courts were not permitted to prosecute representatives of the monarchy.

In June 2020, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) published results of an annual survey indicating that Swaziland had one of the worst workers' rights records in the world.

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