Posts Tagged ‘Swaziland’

Eswatini or Swaziland? As long as human rights defenders can do their work…

September 21, 2018

Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) saying that it must bring an end to the long record of human rights violations that have blighted the country for more than four decades. The Southern African kingdom – which is under the near total control of King Mswati – has a longstanding record of human rights violations, including the routine suppression of the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, as well as widespread forced evictions. Swazis will today elect new members of parliament that will form the new government for the next five years.

This election represents a golden opportunity for an incoming government to comprehensively address longstanding human rights issues,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa.

On 8 August 2017, King Mswati approved the Public Order Act, imposing far-reaching restrictions on organizers of public gatherings. The Act also failed to provide mechanisms to hold law enforcement officials accountable for their use of unnecessary or excessive force against protesters or public gatherings. The government continues to ban opposition parties, while political activists are regularly put in jail for trying to organize and speak out against the status quo. Eswatini will only become a thriving nation when human rights are respected for all, without discrimination, added Deprose Muchena.

See also my: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2015/07/02/swaziland-ngo-welcomes-release-of-hrds-with-new-hope-for-independence-of-the-judiciary/

Academic Freedom monitored by Scholars at Risk which celebrates its 15th anniversary in Montreal

May 27, 2016

Attacks on higher education threaten the safety and well-being of scholars, administrators, staff and students; undermine academic work and instruction; and deny everyone the benefits of expert knowledge and scientific and creative progress. Too often such attacks go unreported. Scholars at Risk (SAR) publishes an Academic Freedom Monitor which tracks key attacks with the aims of protecting vulnerable individuals, promoting accountability and preventing future violations. In the period February – April 2016  SAR reports 20 incidents:

Read the rest of this entry »

Swaziland NGO welcomes release of HRDs with new hope for independence of the Judiciary

July 2, 2015

As many international NGOs (e.g.: Human Rights First, Front Line, the Human Rights Foundation, ISHR and several trade unions) have already welcomed the release of two human rights defenders in Swaziland, it is perhaps interesting to give the local take on it through an article in the Swaziland Observer of 2 July 2015 at hand of Noxolo Nkabinde: “Bheki, Thulani sacrifice not in vain SCCCO”.

The Swaziland Coalition of Concerned Civic Organisations (SCCCO) says the sacrifices made by Nation Magazine Editor Bheki Makhubu and human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko were not in vain..“When they wrote those articles, Bheki and Thulani could not have imagined the events that were to follow. They, as concerned members of the public and as human rights defenders, were simply articulating the sentiments of a nation, frustrated and rapidly losing faith in the justice system. As we continue to stand with them, we believe the pain they and their families have gone through is another building-block towards freedom – their sacrifice has not been in vain,” SCCCO said in their statement. They added that their charge, arrest, conviction and imprisonment were never justified and believed they were vindicated.

Interestingly the NGO gives big credits to the judiciary “We commend the judges of the Supreme Court for this ruling. We welcome this, amongst their first acts in office, as a sign that perhaps our judiciary is turning a corner towards the better path of justice. The past few years have increasingly eroded our confidence in the judiciary – the impeachment proceedings of the former chief justice exposed but a fragment of the rot that had set in the judiciary.  But as we all know, that situation has been created and nurtured over time, and it’s predilection  for injustice has its roots in an environment that is hostile to free speech, in particular the speech that dissents with the status  quo. And so our rejoicing is bitter-sweet:  this is not about the individuals who previously occupied and abused judicial office; nor is it about their heinous conduct during this and other cases – the problem of the judiciary, just as with the other structures of governance, is systemic, and our new judges and their successors will remain vulnerable to outside influence as long as the structural flaws are not addressed.

This was also an opportunity to restore both the dignity of and confidence in the judiciary.  It could also serve as an opportunity to develop and grow the country’s jurisprudence in a way that promotes a culture of human rights and good democratic governance.

The SCCCO anticipates an era of respect for the rule of law under the new Supreme Court Judges Qinisile Mabuza and Mbutfo Mamba: “We note in the appointments the presence of judges such as Qinisile Mabuza and Mbutfo Mamba who have a proven track record of fairness and we look forward to an era where such judges are not punished for being principled…We call on all the judicial officers, even as they have taken the judicial oath/affirmation of office, to also recall the following constitutional provisions: Whereas all the branches of government are the Guardians of the Constitution, it is necessary that the Courts be the ultimate Interpreters of the Constitution”.
The article adds with a sad note that in the meantime the Swaziland Office of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) has been closed due to lack of funding.

See background in: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/03/19/swaziland-should-immediately-release-two-human-rights-defenders-arrested-on-17-march/

Observer.

Erykah Badu unapologetic about her human rights performance and plans to repeat in the Gambia

May 2, 2014

SXSW Film-Interactive-Music - Day 9

(Erykah Badu performs onstage 15 March 2014 in Austin; Roger Kisby—Getty Images)

The misuse of star power by Erykah Badu referred to in an earlier post got a nice follow up according to the opinion piece posted by Thor Halvorssen and Alex Gladstein in TIME of 2 May 2014. After recalling in detail her singing for the Swazi absolute monarch [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/04/30/another-case-of-misused-star-power-erykah-badu-performs-for-swaziland-dictator/], the authors describe Badu’s defensive and sometimes offensive comments in the social media: Read the rest of this entry »

Another case of misused star power: Erykah Badu performs for Swaziland dictator

April 30, 2014

In the series of ‘star power’ for bad causes, American R&B singer Erykah Badu attended the 46th birthday party of King Mswati III of Swaziland on Thursday 24 April, where she sang “Happy Birthday” and dedicated her first song to the “sons of Kings”. The singer has been involved in a number of philanthropic ventures, including Artists for a New South Africa, which works to “advance human rights,” but her visit to Swaziland does not seem to fit in with this. Jeffrey Smith, an advocacy officer at the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, said it was “highly unfortunate that someone of Erykah Badu’s international stature would use her star power for inherently reprehensible reasons — namely, to provide legitimacy, and, in a sense, endorse a brutal dictator who both manages and directs every facet of Africa’s last absolute monarchy.

Journalist Bkheki Makhubu and human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko are currently imprisoned in Swaziland https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/03/19/swaziland-should-immediately-release-two-human-rights-defenders-arrested-on-17-march/ 

On Monday, Miss Badu tweeted: “I have no political affiliation to anything besides my AFRO. However, I will stand with any group opposing injustice. But not on twitter.” She then retweeted a comment by a man named Joe Black that read: “[Erykah Badu] owes NOBODY an explanation of why she performed in Swaziland. She’s a professional artist, not some phony rights defender.” Remarkably on Tuesday, Miss Badu tweeted that she was not paid for the Swaziland event.

via Human rights groups demand answers after Erykah Badu performs for Swaziland dictator – Washington Times.

for other posts on star power see: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/tag/star-power/

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.

 

Swaziland: Human Rights Abuser Dlamini set to become Prime Minister, again

October 25, 2013

An Opinion post in allAfrica.com of 23 October alerts us that Swaziland‘s King Mswati III is expected to reappoint Barnabas Dlamini, as his Prime Minister, despite his appalling civil rights record. The king has summoned his subjects to the Cattle Byre at Ludzidzini for ‘sibaya’, a people’s parliament which he claims is the supreme policy making body in Swaziland. At the meeting on Monday 28 October 2013, King Mswati is expected to announce his choice of PM. [The king rules Swaziland as absolute monarch and chooses the PM and the government, as well as the majority of members of the Senate.] ..Dlamini’s record shows him as a hard man with little regard for human rights. He supports the king in his desire to stop all dissent and brand oppositions as terrorists. He banned four pro-democracy organisations. His Attorney General Majahenkhaba Dlamini told Swazis affiliated with the political formations to resign with immediate effect or feel the full force of the law. Under the Suppression of Terrorism Act STA members and supporters of these groups could face up to 25 years in jail. Under the draconian provisions of the STA, anyone who disagrees with the ruling elite faces being branded a terrorist supporter.

via allAfrica.com: Swaziland: Human Rights Abuser Set to Be P.M. Page 1 of 2.

“Revolutionaries Are The Real Human Rights Defenders” at least in the view of some in Zimbabwe

April 12, 2013

Via AllAfrica.com I came across a lengthy Opinion piece in the Herald of 11 April 2013 which is basically a rant against human rights in general and human rights defenders in general. Normally I would not want to pay much attention to these outdated views but in all fairness this blog on human rights defenders should also give space to those who are diametrically and fundamentally opposed to human rights.

That the authors write from a nationalistic perspective is clear, not only from the language used and the names mentioned but also from the reference to HRD Beatrice Tele Khalalempi Mnzebele (“a shameless white apologist”) as a foreigner from…. Swaziland. Race is a constant element in the piece by equating ‘western’ and ‘white’. The rest of the terminology is reminiscent of the cold war days (‘neo-liberal prophets of democracy “), cultural relativism (“As Africans, we believe that it is the community that protects and nurtures the individual“) and slogans (“human rights are merely an instrument of Western political neo-colonialism and imperialism“). One of the most striking features is the almost total absence of alternative value systems. The closest the authors come to it is when they state: “It is therefore our argument that the value of human rights should be re-examined by affirming the differences between human beings, in acknowledging that we are all influenced by a myriad of different factors, such as our social, political, and cultural backgrounds. Human rights should be established based on the uniqueness of each and every human being, rather than on myopic neo-liberal assumptions propounded by Beatrice and her Western friends.” It contains a ringing endorsement of the uniqueness of each human being – so dear to the neo liberals – but no much more that could constitute a different overarching system. Not a word about the African Charter, about misled (?) countries such as South Africa or Ghana. Instead the opposition to Mugabe is described as: “thugs and all sorts of assorted MDC-T delinquents”.

But for those who want to read the whole piece here is the link the opinion written by Bowden Mbanje and Darlington Mahuku, who – believe it or not – are lecturers in international relations, and peace and governance with Bindura University of Science Education.

Africa: Strong Stand Taken By the African Court on Human and Peoples Rights

May 22, 2012

Français : Logo de la Fédération International...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) welcomes the strong stand taken by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) on the political, security and humanitarian confllicts and crises raging on the continent, at its 51st Session. FIDH now urges African Union (AU) Member States to give immediate effect to the recently adopted resolutions. The document published by allAfrica.com refers to the recent conflict between Sudan and South Sudan  the unconstitutional changes of government that lately occured in Mali and Guinea-Bissau, the territorial integrity of Mali and a West African region where several armed groups, like in Nigeria, still perpetrate violations. On HRDs the document of FIDH states the following:

The African Commission considered with a particular attention the civil and political rights’ violations happening in several countries. The Commission condemned the recurring impediment to Human rights defenders’ action in countries like Ethiopia – where the Charities and Civil Societies Proclamation adopted in 2009 continues to place excessive restrictions on Human rights organisations’ work – Swaziland – where authorities keep opposing the fundamental rights to freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and freedom of association – and Somalia, where journalists are taken in the grip of the ongoing armed conflict and are openly murdered. The FIDH welcomes the African Commission’s clear call for the amendment of the Ethiopian Charities and Civil Societies Proclamation, for the respect of the rights to fundamental freedoms in Swaziland and for justice to be rendered to the murdered journalists in Somalia. All these recommandations were supported by our organisation.

for the full document go to: allAfrica.com: Africa: Strong Stand Taken By the African Court On Human and Peoples Rights On the Crises Situations Raging On the African Continent.