Eswatini: Authorities Launch Brutal Assault On Human Rights- Amnesty International

Colani Khulekani Maseko leads the Swaziland National Students’ Union in protest. [Image: Courtesy]
Eswatini government has continued to ignore the constitution’s provision on human rights and uses law enforcement and the courts to crush calls for justice and accountability, says Amnesty International.

A statement issued on 7 June, 2021 by the Institution indicates that restrictions to fundamental freedoms in the Kingdom of Eswatini have taken a sharp turn towards dissent.

According to AI, the Royal Eswatini Police have participated in unlawful arrests, torture and killings of innocent targeted persons, including those that question government’s actions.

Notably, a mysterious death of 25-year-old law student Thabani Nkomonye, allegedly at the hands of the Royal Eswatini Police officers between 8 and 9 May, prompted a wave of peaceful protests across the country last month, including from youth, civil society to academics calling out police brutality.

The police used tear gas and rubber bullets against the mourners who attended Thabani’s memorial service and used excessive force against peaceful protestors and ordinary citizens, the Human Rights watch dog said.

“The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Commission) has previously…called on the government of Eswatini to respect, protect and fulfill these human rights and to take the necessary measures to stop all acts of harassment and intimidation carried out against human rights defenders.” the statement reads.

It adds that “Despite the calls by the African Commission, the government of Eswatini has consistently disregarded and failed to meet its human rights commitments.”

Amnesty International has called for prompt, effective, impartial and independent investigations into the deaths and allegations of torture or other ill-treatment while in the custody of Thabani Nkomonye, Mandla Maziya, and Ayanda Dlamini, with those suspected of criminal responsibility promptly brought to justice in fair trials.

The excessive use of force by police officers on peaceful protestors has also been brought to attention by AI, for relevant authorities to carry out a probe.

Every person is entitled to exercise and enjoy Human rights, protected under existing national legislation as well as international and regional human rights instruments that the government of Eswatini has ignored in spite of being ratified.

“Amnesty International further calls on the government of Eswatini to ensure everyone, including journalists, human right defenders, peaceful protestors enjoy their rights to peaceful assembly, freedom of association, and freedom of expression.”