RWB voiced its ‘outrage at the fact that he accused Swaziland’s newspaper columnists of trying to tarnish the country’s image at the behest of foreign interests and suggested that newspapers should be required by law to obtain the government’s permission before publishing any column’.
In a letter to Dlamini, RWB secretary-general Jean-François Julliard, said, ‘Conspiracy theory is an old refrain in the simplistic rhetoric of governments with little inclination to respect basic freedoms. Putting more obstacles in the path of journalists will only have a negative effect. Adopting such a law would bring shame on Swaziland and tarnish its image much more than any critical newspaper column.’
Julliard added, ‘We urge you to promote press freedom and free speech and to abandon any plans for a repressive media law. By putting an end to the current harassment of the media and relaxing the climate for journalists, you will help Swaziland advance resolutely towards modernity.’
In a statement RWB said, ‘In a recent address to parliament, the prime minister said he would like to see it adopt a press law that would force columnists to obtain prior permission from the authorities before any column appeared.
Julliard said in his letter to Dlamini, ‘By making government approval a condition for the publication of newspaper articles, you would stifle all freedom of expression and strip journalism of its very essence.’
Earlier this month (October 2010), Swaziland was ranked 155th out of 178 countries in the RWB annual world press freedom index.