This comes after a meeting between Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) officials and human rights organisations.
The Swaziland News website reported the Swaziland Human Rights Network raised issues about Swaziland’s violation of international charters. Activists want the kingdom ruled by King Mswati III as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch referred to the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group which deals with persistent and serious violators of the Commonwealth’s shared principles.
A national election is due later in 2018 but political parties are banned from taking part. Pro-democracy groups are branded ‘terrorists’ under the Suppression of Terrorism Act.
Although the UK has previously given little practical help to assist change in Swaziland it has highlighted that the kingdom is not a democracy. In a report in 2013, the FCO stated that although there was a parliament, ‘there is no effective democracy’.
It added, ‘The King has the power summarily to appoint and dismiss ministers, all parliamentary candidates require the approval of their chief (who is dependent on the monarch for wealth and power) and while political parties are not forbidden, they are banned from participating in elections. All candidates must run as independents.’
The FCO called on Swaziland to allow multi-party elections, but this was rejected by the Swazi government
The report added, ‘Swaziland continues to suffer from a range of governance problems which adversely impact human rights and inhibit the country’s social and economic development and its ability to attract much-needed foreign investment. The judicial system has suffered repeated crises; the Suppression of Terrorism Act has been used to prevent legitimate expression of political views; peaceful protests have been disrupted and in some cases excessive force used against protesters. The absence of clearly documented land rights has prevented small farmers from developing their land. Efforts to amend Swaziland’s laws to prevent domestic violence and to improve the legal status of women have made little progress.’
Human rights violations in Swaziland have also been highlighted by the United States. In its annual report on the kingdom for 2017 it stated, ‘The most significant human rights issues included: arbitrary interference with privacy and home; restrictions on freedoms of speech, assembly, and association; denial of citizens’ ability to choose their government in free and fair elections; institutional lack of accountability in cases involving rape and violence against women; criminalization of same-sex sexual conduct, although rarely enforced; trafficking in persons; restrictions on worker rights; and child labor.
‘With few exceptions, the government did not prosecute or administratively punish officials who committed abuses. In general perpetrators acted with impunity.’
SWAZILAND REPRESSES POLITICAL DISSENT
SWAZILAND CIVIL LIBERTIES WORSEN
UN PROBES SWAZILAND ON HUMAN RIGHTS
SWAZILAND FAILS HUMAN RIGHTS TEST
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