Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa, Johannesburg
11 May 2012
African Commission Versus Swazi Government
The African Commission of Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR) has issued a stinging rebuke to the Swazi government - and called on it to respect human rights and take all necessary measures to ensure the conduct of free, fair and credible elections in 2013.
Even though the Swazi authorities seem immune to most criticism of their anti-democratic antics and their contempt for human rights, they will surely be embarrassed to read that the Commission is deeply concerned and even alarmed by some of their actions.
In its official statement following its 51st session in Banjul, the ACHPR said that it was 'Deeply Concerned about allegations of the violation of the right to freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, and freedom of association, which, if true, may affect the conduct of free, fair and credible elections in 2013'.
The Commission added that it was also 'concerned about the allegation of the violations of the rights of workers as seen in the de-registration of the recently formed Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) by the Office of the Commissioner of Labour acting on the advice of the Attorney General of the Swaziland Government'.
And finally, the ACHPR expressed its alarm at the 'failure of the Kingdom of Swaziland to implement the decision of the African Commission in Communication 251/2002- Lawyers for Human Rights v Swaziland, and the recommendations in the report adopted by the African Commission following a promotional mission to the country in August 2006'.
The fact that nothing has been done in the past six years calls into question the impact and effectiveness of the ACHPR but also clearly underlines how little respect King Mswati and his clique have for the human rights of Swazis.
Having laid out its case, the ACHPR called on the Swazi government to implement the outstanding decisions and recommendations - and also to respect, protect and fulfil the rights to freedom of expression, freedom of association, and freedom of assembly as provided for in the African Charter, the UDHR, the ICCPR and other international and regional instruments.
The Commission concluded by urging the authorities to take all necessary measures to ensure the conduct of free, fair and credible elections in 2013.
It is clear that the King and his men will not abide by any of these calls since genuine democracy is the last thing they are going to allow the people of Swaziland to enjoy - along, of course, with their basic human rights.