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Tuesday, 28 September 2010


Could Barnabas Dlamini, the illegally-appointed Prime Minister of Swaziland, be stripped of his human rights medal before he even receives it?

His nomination for the honour, considered by some to be ‘the world’s most prestigious award’, breaks the rules of the organisers, the World Citizen Awards (WCA).

WCA, which intends to make the award on Saturday (2 October 2010) in the Bahamas, states that only people who are ‘the most brilliant examples of those working toward the attainment of peace and respect for human life and dignity’ are eligible for the honour.

WCA claims that its mission is to ‘champion human rights and maintain governance, democracy, equality, international peace and goodwill’.

To support this work WCA gives 15 awards each year to people ‘who have proven themselves to be brilliant exemplars of society, as well as contributors to peace and human rights’.

It says it receives more than 500 proposals each year and a committee of 13 members selects the winners.

But it’s all gone horribly wrong for the WCA.

It says very clearly that, ‘All prospective awardees must be unanimously endorsed by their organizations who know and attest that the awardees are worthy of such. Nominations related to any particular member of the organization shall not be entertained unless it can be proven beyond reasonable doubt that such distinction is beyond question.’

It doesn’t need a massive investigation to see that Barnabas Dlamini is no ‘champion’ of human rights. In fact, he is the opposite. He has a long history as an enemy of freedom, human rights and civil liberties. He has no ‘distinction’ in human rights and does not deserve the award.

Only this month he said that he wanted to use ‘sipakatane’ (otherwise known as ‘bastinado’, a form of torture that involves flogging the bare soles of a person’s feet with a spiked wooden or metal implement to temporarily or permanently cripple them) on people who campaigned against his government.

Earlier this year Amnesty International, Freedom House and the US State Department separately attested to the human rights violations that are taking place in Swaziland under Dlamini’s regime.

The US State Department reported, ‘Human rights problems included inability of citizens to change their government; extrajudicial killings by security forces; mob killings; police use of torture, beatings, and excessive force on detainees; police impunity; arbitrary arrests and lengthy pretrial detention; arbitrary interference with privacy and home; restrictions on freedoms of speech and press and harassment of journalists; restrictions on freedoms of assembly, association, and movement; prohibitions on political activity and harassment of political activists; discrimination and violence against women; child abuse; trafficking in persons; societal discrimination against members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transsexual community; discrimination against mixed-race and white citizens; harassment of labor leaders; restrictions on worker rights; and child labor.’

Once news broke of the intention to give Dlamini an award people who know the truth have been protesting to WCA, detailing his crimes against human rights.

The organisation cannot claim it doesn’t know that Dlamini is not worthy of the distinction.

There is still time for WCA to save a shred of its reputation by withdrawing the offer of the award and telling Dlamini he is not wanted in the Bahamas.

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