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Swaziland

    July 04, 2017

    Human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko was arrested and detained in Swaziland after writing an article raising concerns about judicial independence and integrity in the country. He and his wife Tanele sit down with us after his release from prison to tell their story and share their sincere thanks to Amnesty supporters.

    Amnesty: So Thulani tell us what happened to you. What was your story? What happened to you in Swaziland in 2014 and 2015?

    Thulani: March 2014. Maybe the best way to answer the question is to say perhaps most of my life I have been involved in the struggle to create a better society in Swaziland. A society that respects the rule of law, human rights and dignity of the Swazi citizen so that includes me writing for a magazine called The Nation. I’m a monthly contributor.

    September 16, 2016

    In reaction to the High Court of Swaziland today declaring sections of the 1938 Sedition and Subversive Activities Act (SSA Act) and the 2008 Suppression of Terrorism Act (STA) unconstitutional, Amnesty International said.

    “The court ruling is a victory for human rights, especially for freedom of expression and association,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa.

    “For far too long, the Swazi authorities have used these oppressive laws to silence opponents of the government.”

    “Today’s landmark judgement, although a positive step forward, is a painful reminder of the injustices that have been meted out by the Swazi authorities through the use of these laws in the past.”

    Background

    Freedom of expression is protected in the Swazi Constitution, as well as in the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights – international instruments that Swaziland is a party to.

    Sedition and Subversive Activities Act (SSA Act)

    May 05, 2016

    Amnesty International welcomes the Swaziland Government’s preparedness to amend the Suppression of Terrorism Act of 2008 (STA) as it had committed to do in March 2012 at the Universal Periodic Review of the United Nations Human Rights Council.

    Amnesty International has consistently called for the STA to be repealed or immediately amended, because it is an inherently flawed piece of legislation which is inconsistent with Swaziland’s obligations under international and regional human rights law as well as the Swaziland Constitution.

    In 2009, Amnesty International in association with the International Bar Association found several provisions of the STA to be incompatible with Swaziland’s human rights obligations. 

    While states have a duty to protect all those under its jurisdiction, including by taking measures to prevent and protect against attacks on civilians, there is also an absolute necessity to ensure that all anti-terrorism measures are implemented in accordance with international human rights law.  

    September 04, 2015

    The Swazi government is continuing 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, said Amnesty International on the 47th anniversary of its independence on 6 September.

    “It is ironic that as Swaziland celebrates 47 years of independence from Britain today it continues to use legislation to shut down dissenting voices used by the colonial regime for the same purpose,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for Southern Africa.
    “Swazi authorities must stop persecuting human rights defenders and political opponents in the country and allow them to carry out their work without harassment and intimidation.”

    July 25, 2014

    The sentencing of a newspaper editor and a human rights lawyer to two years in prison on charges of contempt of court after a grossly unfair trial in Swaziland is an outrageous attempt to silence dissenting voices, said Amnesty International.

    “With this sentence, Swaziland is sending the message that raising any concerns about judicial independence is out of bounds. It is a deplorable attack on freedom of expression in the country,” said Deprose Muchena, Regional Director for Southern Africa.

    Bhekithemba Makhubu, editor of Swaziland’s monthly news magazine, The Nation, and human rights lawyer, Thulani Maseko, were today sentenced to two years in prison without the possibility of paying a fine instead.

    March 18, 2014

    Today’s unlawful detention of a respected magazine editor and human rights lawyer for their criticism of the judiciary in Swaziland is another shocking example of the southern African kingdom’s intolerance of freedom of expression, Amnesty International said.

    Bhekithemba Makhubu, editor of Swaziland’s monthly news magazine The Nation and human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko are being held at Sidwashini Remand Prison in Mbabane, after highly irregular legal proceedings. They were arbitrarily arrested under defective warrants, denied access to their lawyers and remanded in custody after summary proceedings held behind closed doors.

    “These arbitrary arrests and highly irregular legal proceedings amount to judicial retribution rather than justice being delivered, and are further evidence of Swaziland’s intolerance of freedom of expression. It violates international human rights standards and has no basis in Swaziland’s domestic law,” said Mary Rayner, researcher on Swaziland at Amnesty International.

    April 19, 2013

    A hefty fine imposed against a newspaper editor convicted of contempt in Swaziland and the authorities’ threat to imprison him are further proof of the southern African kingdom’s increasingly aggressive crackdown on independent media and freedom of expression, Amnesty International said.

    The Swaziland High Court on Wednesday convicted  Bheki Makhubu, editor of The Nation – one of Swaziland’s last independent publications - on two counts of contempt of court in connection with the publication of two articles that questioned the independence of the country’s judiciary.

    The editor was sentenced to pay a fine equivalent to nearly US$45,000 - if he fails to pay half of it within three days he will face two years’ imprisonment.

    “The sentence against Makhubu simply criminalizes non-violent expression of opinion on an issue central to the ongoing crisis of the rule of law in Swaziland,” said Mary Rayner, researcher on Swaziland at Amnesty International.

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