24 May 2012
Amnesty International annual report criticises “brutal” Swazi regime
“Arbitrary and secret detentions, political prosecutions and excessive force were used to crush political protests,” Amnesty International writes about Swaziland in their 2012 annual report on the state of human rights throughout the world that was released today [24 May].
Swaziland is an absolute monarchy where all political parties are banned, where the monarch King Mswati III rules by decree and where two thirds of the population survive on under a dollar a day whilst the royal family spend lavishly on luxury items and prestige projects.
The Amnesty report focuses at length on mass demonstrations in April 2011 that were brutally suppressed by police and security forces. “In April, the government banned protest marches planned for 12 to 14 April by trade unions and other organizations. Arbitrary and secret detentions, unlawful house arrests and other state of emergency-style measures were used to crush peaceful anti-government protests over several days.”
The treatment of student leader, Maxwell Dlamini, who was detained and tortured during the mass demonstrations (although the torture of Maxwell at the hands of security police is for some reason not mentioned in the report), is held up as an example of the regime’s suppression of the democratic movement in April 2011, as is that of (banned political party) Ngwane National Liberatory Congress activist Ntombi Nkosi.
“Maxwell Dlamini, President of the Swaziland National Union of Students, was detained between 10 and 12 April and held incommunicado without access to a lawyer or contact with his family. The day after his release he was rearrested, along with Musa Ngubeni, a political activist and former student activist leader. They were denied legal access while in police custody and during their hearing at the magistrate’s court.”
“On 12 April, 66-year-old Ntombi Nkosi, an activist with the Ngwane National Liberatory Congress (NNLC), was on her way home, having received medical treatment after tear gas was thrown at her, when she was confronted by three armed police officers. They questioned her about wording relating to the NNLC on her T-shirt and head scarf and then allegedly grabbed her, pulled off her T-shirt and headscarf and assaulted her. They throttled her, banged her head against a wall, sexually molested her, bent her arms behind her back, kicked her and then threw her against a police truck. A passing taxi driver helped her to get away.”
The report also clearly points to the fact that the regime has closed of all avenues of dialogue with the democratic movement. “The government ignored renewed efforts by civil society organizations to open a dialogue on steps towards multi-party democracy. At the UN Universal Periodic Review hearing on Swaziland in October, the government rejected recommendations to allow political parties to participate in elections.”