Freedom House has condemned the ‘alarming deterioration’ in human rights in Swaziland.
Freedom House, the democracy watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights, says in a statement that the arrest is a violation of Masuku’s civil liberties ‘and a further indication of an alarming deterioration in the political environment in Swaziland’.
The statement goes on, ‘Swaziland, Africa’s last absolute monarchy, has banned political parties since 1973. Mr. Masuku’s arrest occurred immediately following the funeral of PUDEMO member, Sipho Jele, who was found hanging from rafters in a prison toilet three days after being imprisoned for wearing a T-shirt with a PUDEMO logo. Although the Swazi authorities informed Mr. Jele’s family that he had committed suicide, injuries visible on the corpse raised doubts about the cause of death. Mr. Jele had participated in a Freedom House civil society workshop in 2009.
‘“It is clear the political situation in Swaziland continues to be dangerous for anyone opposing the regime. In light of what happened to Sipho Jele, we are obviously very concerned about the safety of Mario Masuku,” said Paula Schriefer, director of advocacy at Freedom House.
‘Harassment of Swazi civil society has increased of late, including an attempt by Swazi police to prevent two civil society leaders, Musa Hlophe and Jan Sithole, from entering South Africa en route to Germany at the invitation of Bread for the World.
‘Swaziland is ranked Not Free in Freedom in the World 2010, Freedom House's survey of political rights and civil liberties, and Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2010.’
For more information on Freedom House and Swaziland, visit: