Posts Tagged ‘Southern Africa Human Rights Defenders Network’

Swaziland should immediately release two Human Rights Defenders arrested on 17 March

March 19, 2014

Swaziland should immediately release Mr. Thulani Maseko and Mr. Bheki Makhubu, the Pan-African Human Rights Defenders Network said today. The human rights defenders (the first a lawyer and the second a journalist) were arrested on Monday 17 March 2014, reportedly in response to articles published in a national magazine. Maseko is a prominent human rights lawyer working at the national and regional levels, a senior member of Lawyers for Human Rights Swaziland and the Southern Africa Human Rights Defenders Network, which is part of the Pan-African Human Rights Defenders Network. Makhubu is the Editor-in-Chief of the Nation. The two men were arrested under the same warrant, issued by Chief Justice Ramodibedi, on charges of “scandalizing the judiciary” and contempt of court. Their lawyer was not permitted to represent the pair when they were jointly charged on 18 March 2014. They have been remanded pending a bail hearing on 24 March 2014. The charges are apparently in relation to articles published in the Nation Magazine questioning the circumstances surrounding the arrest of Chief Government Vehicle Inspector, Bhantshana Gwebu. Mr. Gwebu had been arrested and charged with contempt of court after he arrested the driver of a High Court judge. As an absolute monarchy, the King of Swaziland has the discretionary power to suspend constitutional rights such as freedom of expression and in practice these rights are frequently curtailed. Mr. Maseko has previously been charged with sedition for public statements made.“Human rights defenders must be able to speak out on issues of public interest,” said Hassan Shire, Chairperson of the Pan-African Human Rights Defenders Network. “We call on the Swaziland authorities to drop the charges against Mr Maseko and Mr Makhubu and allow them to continue with their important work.

via Swaziland: Release Human Rights Defender and Journalist – East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project.