Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Times of Swaziland

17 May 2011


Amnesty slams killings by security guards, cops

MANZINI – The death of one Sicelo Mamba, allegedly at the hands of security guards, has made it into the 2011 Amnesty International Report as an example of excessive misuse of deadly force by Swaziland’s law enforcement officials.

The report states that Mamba was shot three times with a high velocity rifle, twice in the head.

"The security guards and their employer, a prominent farmer, appeared to believe that they had immunity from prosecution under the 1997 Game Act. No official investigation had been instituted by the end of the year," the report, which was released on Friday, reads.

For the state police, Amnesty International has highlighted the death of one Sifiso Nhlabatsi, whom it says was shot while handcuffed.

"He had been removed from Mbabane Police Station cells and taken to Thembelihle forest where he was interrogated, allegedly assaulted and shot. He required hospital treatment for gunshot injuries to his upper back. The police publicly stated that they had shot him ‘in the buttocks while trying to escape during his arrest," the report further states.

In both instances, the international human rights watchdog says, there was no evidence to suggest that the victims were posing a threat to life when shot. Amnesty says incumbent Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs David Matse, in his previous position as Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission and Public Administration Commission, publicly showed apprehension that police and soldiers were using a ‘shoot-to-kill’ policy, which violated the right to life. In the report, Amnesty said during the year 2010, ‘torture’ and incidents of ‘unjustified use of lethal force’ were reported. The report also laments the lack of freedom of expression especially with regards to operations of the media. It says the media has been restricted by statutory laws and ‘sweeping’ provisions under the Suppression of Terrorism Act and threats.

Further, the country’s journalists and editors are reportedly threatened by public officials.

"In March, Bheki Makhubu, the editor of the independent publication, The Nation, appeared in court to answer charges of "criminal contempt of court". The charges arose from two articles expressing concern about the rule of law in Swaziland. The case had not been heard by the end of the year," states the report.

Government spokesperson Macanjana Motsa said they would comment only after receiving and going through the report.

...decries lack of legislation protecting women

MANZINI – The lack of legislation to ensure the protection of women’s right to equality has been noted by Amnesty International.

The organisation, in its 2011 report, says this was despite acknowledgement in the country’s 2010 Millennium Development Goals that this was leading to the feminisation of poverty.

"The persistence and scale of gender-based violence was confirmed in the same report as "a major problem". In August, the government approved a National Gender Policy document.

In May, the Supreme Court overturned on technical grounds a High Court decision granting some married women the right to own immovable property. However, the appeal judges agreed that the relevant provision of the Deeds Registry Act of 1968, which denied these women this right, was unconstitutional. The Supreme Court gave Parliament a year to amend the provision.

In October, the Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Bill were introduced in Parliament for full debate, more than five years after it was initially drafted. The Bill had not been enacted by the end of the year," the report says.

To read the full Amnesty International report click here http://allafrica.com/stories/201105130551.html

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