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Thursday, 2 July 2015

HUGE SWAZILAND STATE SECURITY

More than one in three of the government workforce in Swaziland is employed in the police or security services, figures recently released reveal.

King Mswati III, who rules Swaziland as an absolute monarch, is the Commander-in-Chief of the Umbutfo Swaziland Defence Force (USDF), holds the position of Minister of Defence, and is the Commander of the Royal Swaziland Police Service (RSPS) and His Majesty’s Correctional Service (HMCS). 

He presides over a civilian Principal Secretary of Defence and a Commanding General. 

In 2014, about 35 percent of the government workforce was assigned to security-related functions. 

The RSPS is responsible for maintaining internal security. The USDF is responsible for external security but also has domestic security responsibilities, including protecting members of the Royal Family. 

The HMCS is responsible for the protection, incarceration, and rehabilitation of convicted persons and keeping order within HMCS institutions. HMCS personnel, however, routinely work alongside police during protests and demonstrations.

This has been revealed in the United States Department of State report on human rights in Swaziland for the year 2014.

There are thought to be more than 35,000 people on the government payroll in Swaziland.

The report stated, ‘While the conduct of the RSPS, USDF, and HMCS was generally professional, members of all three forces were susceptible to political pressure and corruption. There were few prosecutions or disciplinary actions taken against security officers accused of abuses.’

Reviewing 2014, the report stated, ‘There were credible reports of use of excessive force by community police and security forces during the year. For example, on July 21, the Times of Swaziland reported that on July 13, three Malindza community police beat to death a mentally challenged man who had escaped from the National Psychiatric Center. The three were arrested, jailed, denied bail, and awaiting High Court trial at year’s end.

‘The Times of Swaziland of July 28 reported that during the first week of July correctional services officers from Big Bend correctional facility re-apprehended an escaped prisoner, beat him, and locked him overnight in a truck as punishment for escaping. The inmate died, reportedly due to lack of medical attention and exposure to the cold.’

The report also said the Swazi Government permitted very limited monitoring of prison conditions.

‘Independent monitoring groups found it difficult to access prison facilities during the year, and none issued public reports. The government routinely denied prison access to local human rights organizations, African Union Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression Pansy Tlakula, and foreign diplomatic representatives.’

The report added, ‘Authorities generally did not allow journalists inside prisons. On April 12, the HMCS denied visitation rights to six journalists from different media houses seeking to visit incarcerated Nation magazine editor Bheki Makhubu and stated visitors must obtain permission from the commissioner of correctional services. Several international NGOs attempted to obtain permission without response from the commissioner.’

There were also arbitrary arrests in Swaziland.

The report stated, ‘Although the constitution and law prohibit arbitrary arrest and detention, police arbitrarily arrested and detained numerous persons, primarily to prevent their participation in public protests. For example, on August 30, the Times of Swaziland newspaper reported police detained 25 residents of KaLuhleko for three days for their opposition to the authority of a certain chief. Residents, including persons over the age of 71, alleged police tied their hands and legs to benches and covered their heads for three days.’

The judiciary in the kingdom was not independent.

The report stated, ‘The constitution and law provide for an independent judiciary, but the King’s power to appoint the judiciary on recommendation of the Judicial Services Commission limits judicial independence.

‘The judiciary was generally impartial in nonpolitical criminal and civil cases not involving the Royal Family or government officials. In cases involving high-level government officials or Royal Family members, however, outcomes in favor of these individuals were predetermined. 

‘High Court judges who exercised a degree of independence were sidelined and blocked from ruling on political cases, including human rights cases.’

See also

TRIALS POLITICALLY MOTIVATED: AMNESTY
SWAZI HUMAN RIGHTS WORSEN: AMNESTY
http://swazimedia.blogspot.com/2015/02/swazi-human-rights-worsen-amnesty.html

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