The main human rights problem in Swaziland is that the Swazi people are not allowed to choose their government, a report just publish revealed.
Swaziland is ruled by King Mswati III, the last absolute monarch in sub-Saharan Africa. He controls the government, parliament and the judges.
The United States Department of State in its annual report on human rights in Swaziland stated, ‘There is a parliament consisting of appointed and elected members and a Prime Minister appointed by the King, but political power remained largely with the King and his traditional advisors. International observers concluded the 2013 parliamentary elections did not meet international standards.’
The United States has been reviewing human rights issues in Swaziland for many years. In 2015 it scrapped a lucrative trade deal with Swaziland called AGOA because King Mswati would not allow democratic reform in his kingdom.
The 33-page report stated, ‘The principal human rights concerns are that citizens do not have the ability to choose their government in free and fair periodic elections held by secret ballot; police use of excessive force, including torture, beatings, and unlawful killings; restrictions on freedoms of speech, assembly, and association; and discrimination against and abuse of women and children.
‘Other human rights problems included arbitrary killings; arbitrary arrests and lengthy pretrial detention; arbitrary interference with privacy and home; prohibitions on political activity and harassment of political activists; trafficking in persons; societal discrimination against members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex community and persons with albinism; mob violence; harassment of labour leaders; child labour; and restrictions on worker rights.
‘The government took few or no steps to prosecute or punish officials who committed abuses. In general perpetrators acted with impunity.’
The report added, ‘Civil and political rights were severely restricted. Citizens did not have the ability to choose their government in free and fair periodic elections held by secret ballot, and political parties remained unable to register, contest elections, or otherwise participate in formation of a government.’
The report determined King Mswat ruled as ‘an absolute monarch’ with ultimate decision-making authority.
It added, ‘Some prodemocracy organizations were banned. There is no legal mechanism by which political parties may compete in elections. The Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) did not permit candidates of political parties to register under the names of their parties.’
It went on, ‘Under the constitution the King selects the Prime Minister, the cabinet, two-thirds of the senate, 10 of 65 members of the house, many senior civil servants, the chief justice and other justices of the superior courts, members of commissions established by the constitution, and the heads of government offices.’
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