International Federation of Journalists (Brussels)
12 April 2011
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today condemned in the strongest possible terms the brutal crackdown on journalists and trade union leaders by the Swazi security forces.
Two South African journalists of Eyewitness News were arrested today in Swaziland while covering the planned protest demonstrations.
The journalists, Nastasya Tay and Tshepo Lesole were detained for some hours before being escorted by the Swazi police out of the commercial capital, Manzini while Dutch journalist Rob Hartgers who is also in Swaziland to cover the planned demonstrations was detained at the Manzini Regional headquarters and his colleague and countryman identified only as Peter was stopped and thoroughly searched at a road block in Manzini.
Security forces also arrested at least four trade union leaders including Phumelele Zulu Dlamini of the Swaziland Federation of Labour and Nomkhosi Dlamini - Gumedze, secretary of the Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions' Women's Wing.
According to media reports from Swaziland, political parties, trade unions and civil society organizations have planned a protest action for today, Tuesday 12 April to demand the lift of the ban on political parties and an end to the monarchy. Police Commissioner, Issac Magagula said that any demonstration in Swaziland would be met with brutal force. He warned unions and journalists not to attend the planned demonstrations as police would ensure that they do not take place.
"The sheer force used by security forces in preventing journalists from reporting the events is a serious repression of fundamental rights and a deliberate attempt to suppress the truth," said Gabriel Baglo, Director of the IFJ Africa Office. "Journalists' right to access information and to report in the interest of the public must be respected at all cost as guaranteed by Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on Civil and Political Rights".
The IFJ calls on the Swazi regime to release with immediate effect all journalists and trade union leaders in its custody and to allow them to exercise their role and rights.
"Freedom of expression and the right to association and peaceful assembly are fundamental human rights recognised the world over and thus it is of ultimate importance that the Swazi regime respects these rights," added Baglo.
SWAZI FORCES TARGET JOURNALISTS