Swaziland’s police and its soldiers have been warned that the shoot-to-kill policy they have implemented is unconstitutional.
The Swaziland Human Rights and Public Administration Commission says life is protected in the constitution.
‘Our plea to the police and the army is that they should consider the law before shooting at suspects. The constitution makes it clear that there are certain areas where killing is condoned. It is only in such instances that we can expect anyone to take away human life, Matse said.
Section 15 (1-4), of the Swaziland Constitution deals with the protection of the right to life. The law states that taking life can only be condoned if the person on the receiving end was in a riot; had been sentenced to death; in defence of property and to prevent the commission of a serious crime.
Matse said even if a person is escaping from lawful custody, other means of arresting that person can be attempted before the suspect’s life is considered expendable.
‘To the police, the army and members of the public, our plea is that when something has happened, which requires the killing of a person, let it be done legally, having observed the full course of the law.
‘When it has been necessary to take life, let there be proof that all other remedies were exhausted and that there was no other alternative,’ he said.
Section 15 of the Constitution reads:
A person shall not be deprived of life intentionally save in:
1. The execution of the sentence of a court in respect of a criminal offence under the law of Swaziland of which that person has been convicted.
2. The death penalty shall not be mandatory.
3. A sentence of life imprisonment shall not be less than 25 years.
4. Without prejudice to any liability for a contravention of any other law with respect to the use of force in such cases as are mentioned in this sub section, a person shall not be regarded as having been deprived of life in contravention of this section if death results from the use of force to such extent as is reasonably justifiable and proportionate in the circumstances of the case.
a) For the defence of any person from violence or for the defence of property.
b) In order to effect a lawful arrest or to prevent the escape of a person lawfully detained
c) For the purpose of suppressing a riot, insurrection or mutiny or
d) In order to prevent the commission by that person of a serious offence.