Barnabas Dlamini, who earlier this month advocated torturing people who disagree with his government, is to get an international award given to ‘distinguished individuals or groups worldwide with exemplary contributions to peace and human rights’.
The World Citizen Awards, which organisers call ‘the world’s most prestigious award’, are to be handed out in the Bahamas next Saturday (2 October 2010).
The World Citizens Award (WCA) describes itself as a ‘private- charitable foundation whose main objective is to give proper recognition through the conferment of awards of excellence and distinction to individuals or groups worldwide who have distinguished themselves as brilliant exemplars of society or who contributed toward the attainment of peace and respect for human life and dignity.’
Dlamini, who was illegally-appointed Prime Minister of Swaziland by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch is one of dozens of people from the world of politics and (strange bedfellows) sport from across the globe to receive the award.
It is not clear how the decision to make the award was made, but earlier this year the WCA issued a statement asking for people to make nominations.
Whatever the procedure, the WCA has clearly made a massive error of judgement. Dlamini has a long history as an enemy (not a supporter) of human rights and peace. Only this month he said he wanted to use ‘Sipakatane’ otherwise known as ‘bastinado’, a form of torture that involves flogging the bare soles of a person’s feet with a spiked wooden or metal implement to temporarily or permanently cripple them, on dissidents and foreigners who supported democracy in Swaziland.
In July 2010, Amnesty International issued a special plea for supporters to protest about the Dlamini government ‘because political activists, human rights defenders and trade unionists in Swaziland were at risk of harassment, ill-treatment and arrest, as the authorities use draconian counter-terror legislation to investigate a spate of government-targeted petrol bombings’.
News of Dlamini’s award will certainly provoke protests across the globe. If you want to tell the WCA it has made a dreadful mistake, its email address is