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Thursday, 22 April 2010


A second Swaziland human rights activist has won an international award.

Thuli Makama, a lawyer, has been working for the rights of people in Swaziland not to be shot if they are seen to be breaking the law.

In particular, Makama has been working with poachers who are being shot at (and at least 20 have been killed or maimed) by game rangers, who have the approval of King Mswati III.

Makama, who is head of the Swazi environmental group Yonge Nawe, has won a prestigious award called the Goldman Environmental Prize for her work.

In September 2008 I reported on a campaign for justice for Swazi man Musa Gamedz who was hunted down and executed in broad daylight because he was suspected of poaching on Big Game Parks.

A documentary by Journeyman Pictures Journeyman Pictures called Killing the Poachers revealed that King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, had given a royal warrant that allowed a chief ranger to shoot and if necessary kill people suspected of poaching. Under the Royal Warrant, the killer would not be prosecuted as long as he could show that the poacher was armed and drew a weapon first.

The award for Makama has attracted international attention to the lack of human rights in Swaziland. She told the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), suspected poachers should be arrested and ‘taken through the due process of law’.

‘There are many illegal acts that should not mean you are tried, sentenced and executed at the scene.’

Makama is the second Swazi human rights activist to receive an international award in recent weeks. Last month (March 2010), Mario Masuku, president of the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), received the Swaziland Democracy Watch (SWADEWA) Democracy Prize 2010, from a group in Denmark.

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