Sunday, May 3, 2020

Swaziland: No Press Freedom

Today (3 May 2020) is World Press Freedom Day, when we come together to recognise the importance of journalism in a free society. Swaziland (eSwatini) is not free. It is ruled by an absolute monarch King Mswati III, who picks the Prime Minister, members of the Government, as well as top judges and civil servants.
Political parties are banned from taking part in elections and groups that call for democratic reform are banned under the Suppression of Terrorism Act. 
Nearly all broadcast media (radio and TV) are state-controlled. One of the two daily newspaper groups in the kingdom is in effect owned by the king. The other is cowed and practises self-censorship.
There is now a growing number of websites trying to offer independent journalism. They have been under attack from the Swazi state. Police and army have harassed, tortured and arrested journalists. We should support them not only on World Press Freedom Day, but throughout the year.
Below are links to some stories about the lack of media freedom in Swaziland published by the Swazi Media Commentary website over the past month
Richard Rooney
Teacher held by Swaziland police as free speech clampdown intensifies
Wife of Swaziland King’s critic seeks court order to stop police harassing, beating her
‘No media freedom’ in Swaziland, Reporters Without Borders annual report states

Swaziland journalist critical of absolute monarch, beaten, arrested, faces treason charge
Swaziland journalist ‘tortured by police after criticising absolute monarch in newspaper articles’

Newspaper editor flees Swaziland for second time after arrest and police torture

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