Friday, November 22, 2013


Freedom House, the international human rights group, has condemned ‘the unlawful arrests and detentions’ of students carried out by police at the University of Swaziland.

This follows a week of disruption at the university which saw armed police raid student dormitories using teargas and arresting student leaders. The students report they were badly beaten at police stations.
Freedom House has also criticised police for arresting farmers in Swaziland’s Vuvulane area, who were resisting unlawful evictions from land.

In a statement Freedom House said, ‘The government of Swaziland should immediately end these violations of Swazi citizens’ basic freedoms.’

It said, ‘On Sunday, November 17, 2013, university students protested against what they perceived as an unfair change to the exam calendar. Police officers responded by forcefully entering students’ housing, allegedly beating and then arresting students. On another campus, six students were detained and later released without being formally charged.

‘In Vuvulane, the police are increasing pressure on farmers resisting their unlawful evictions from land that they have occupied for generations. In a clear attempt to intimidate the community, police this week arrested and detained a group of five farmers four times. Each time they were released before the 24 hour deadline for a charge to be brought, only to be immediately rearrested.

‘The Swazi government should compel police to refrain from using unlawful, violent means to prevent constitutionally protected free speech and protests.’

A recent Freedom House
report on Swaziland reveals the extent of King Mswati’s control over all levers of power in Swaziland. The king has ruled Swaziland for 27 years and is sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.

Freedom House said his rule ‘has led to the near collapse of the Swazi economy, increasingly desperate poverty and lack of respect for the rule of law and the political rights of citizens. Political parties remain banned in Swaziland, which is rated ‘Not Free’ in Freedom in the World 2013.’

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