Thursday, June 4, 2009


The jailing of Swaziland’s most prominent human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko on a sedition charge has been branded an act of intimidation.

Mandla Mkhwanazi, Swaziland Law Society Interim President and Secretary for Lawyers for Human Rights, said Maseko’s arrest was politically inclined and a serious infringement of basic human rights.

The Times of Swaziland, the kingdom’s only independent daily newspaper, reports Mkhwanazi saying, ‘As a profession we subscribe to the view that lawyers constitute a fundamental pillar for maintaining the rule of law and ensuring effective protection of human rights.

‘In order to fulfil their profession and duties, lawyers must, in particular; be able to work in true independence, free from external political or other pressures, threats and harassment; must be ensured due guarantees, which include the legal right and duty to advise and assist their clients in every appropriate way in order to protect their interests; must be able to act to uphold nationality and internationally recognised human rights.’

He added that lawyers, like all other citizens, were entitled to freedom of expression, belief, association and assembly. He said they also had a right to take part in public discussion of matters concerning the law, the administration of justice and promotion of fundamental human rights.

Maseko was arrested yesterday morning (3 June 2009) and charged under the Sedition and Subversive Act. He was taken to Manzini Magistrates’ Court and later remanded to the Sidvwashini prison.

The charge is that Maseko unlawfully uttered words with a subversive intention at the Manzini Salesian Sports Ground at a May Day celebration.

He is alleged to have spoken about a failed attempt to blow up a bridge near one of the palaces of King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, in which two alleged bombers died and said: ‘MJ Dlamini and Jack Govender died for the liberation of this country. One day the Lozitha bridge will be called MJ and Govender bridge.’

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