Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA) has called on the Commonwealth to ‘vigorously respond’ to the Government of Swaziland’s failings on human rights, democracy and the rule of law.
It said King Mswati III, who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, ‘must be held to account for its serious breaches of the Commonwealth Charter’.
ACTSA, which is the successor to the Anti-Apartheid Movement, issued a report ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting due to be held in Malta on 27-29 November 2015.
In a submission to the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group, ACTSA said Swaziland’s lack of respect for Commonwealth principles, along with its violations of international human rights law, resulted in the subordination of the vast majority of the kingdom’s population.
The report noted the ‘growing internal criticism of the Government of Swaziland, including a call for a transformation of the political system’ and added ‘internal pressure for reform can be bolstered by external pressure’.
ACTSA said Swaziland must address: bans on political parties participating in the democratic process; restrictions on freedom of expression; a weakened judiciary; and abuses of women’s rights.
The report challenged Swaziland’s response to previous recommendations made by the Commonwealth and demanded that the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group take action.
ACTSA’s Director, Tony Dykes, said in a statement, ‘The Swazi government has led the Commonwealth on a merry dance. If the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group - and thus the Commonwealth as a whole - is to command respect, it absolutely must take action to ensure Swaziland lives up to the commitments it has made. The time has long come for the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group to formally consider the Government of Swaziland’s status with respect to the Commonwealth Charter. The people of Swaziland deserve nothing less.’
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