Her Excellency Mrs Dumsile T Sukati
Kingdom of Swaziland High Commission
20 Buckingham Gate
London SW1E 6LB
Dear High Commissioner
Deregistration of TUCOSWA
The Trades Union Congress (TUC) is the voice of Britain at work, and on behalf of the six million members of our affiliated trade unions, I wish to register with you and your Government our serious concerns about the deregistration of our sister organisation in Swaziland, the TUCOSWA and our desire that this deregistration be lifted. In particular, I would urge that you communicate urgently to your Government the need to avoid a confrontation with the trade union and democratic forces who plan to protest for human and trade union rights on 12 April.
I would welcome the opportunity to meet with you to make the case for the restoration of registration, and the abandonment of attempts to harass and intimidate the trade union movement of Swaziland.
Your Government's intention to deregister was communicated to TUCOSWA by letter and confirmed at a meeting between the Labour Commissioner and TUCOSWA on Thursday 5 April. The argument advanced by the Attorney General and the Labour Commissioner - that there is no provision for such registration in Swazi law, demonstrates how far out of compliance with ILO Convention 87 your Government now is, and threatens the existence also of the employers' federation.
This latest step undermines your Government's attempts to persuade the international community that reform is underway. We are sure that the International Labour Organisation's Committee on Freedom of Association will add this to the charge sheet against your Government at the ILO Conference this summer.
Meanwhile, everyday life in Swaziland continues to be marked by serious violations of democratic, human and trade union rights. These include extrajudicial killings by security forces, mob killings, the use of torture by the police, beatings and the use of excessive force on detainees, police impunity, arbitrary arrests and lengthy pre-trial detentions, restrictions on freedom of assembly, association and movement, prohibitions on political activity and harassment of political activists, discrimination and violence against women, the harassment of labour leaders, and restrictions on workers' rights.
To date, political parties remain forbidden, in spite of the adoption of a new Constitution in 2005, which in itself is still highly ineffective in preserving fundamental democratic rights, including trade union rights. Trade union activities are systematically labelled as political and then severely repressed.
I would be grateful for your urgent attention.
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