Sunday, February 2, 2020

Swaziland absolute monarch given reminder of Commonwealth’s human rights values

The Commonwealth Secretary General Patricia Scotland presented the absolute monarch of Swaziland (eSwatini) King Mswati III with a copy of the Commonwealth Charter during her visit to the kingdom.

The Charter sets out the Commonwealth’s commitment to democracy and human rights.
Swaziland is a member of the Commonwealth.

The King rules Swaziland where political parties are barred from taking part in elections. The King choses the Prime minister and cabinet minister as well as job judges and civil servants. Freedoms of expression, assembly and association are severely curtailed. Groups advocating for democracy are banned under the Suppression of Terrorism Act.

Freedom House scored Swaziland 16 out of a possible 100 points in its Freedom in the World 2019 report. It concluded that Swaziland was ‘not free’.

The Commonwealth Secretary General met King Mswati at Ludzidzini, one of the King’s 13 palaces. About seven in ten of the 1.3 million population of Swaziland live in abject poverty.

Scotland was in Swaziland as part of a tour of Commonwealth countries.

The Commonwealth describes its Charter as ‘a document of the values and aspirations which unite the Commonwealth – democracy, human rights and the rule of law.

‘The Charter expresses the commitment of member states to the development of free and democratic societies and the promotion of peace and prosperity to improve the lives of all the people of the Commonwealth.   

‘The Charter also acknowledges the role of civil society in supporting the goals and values of the Commonwealth.’

On democracy the Charter states, ‘We recognise the inalienable right of individuals to participate in democratic processes, in particular through free and fair elections in shaping the society in which they live. Governments, political parties and civil society are responsible for upholding and promoting democratic culture and practices and are accountable to the public in this regard. Parliaments and representative local governments and other forms of local governance are essential elements in the exercise of democratic governance.’

There have been many calls for Swaziland to be suspended from the Commonwealth because of its poor human rights record.

Commonwealth Secretary General, Patricia Scotland presents the absolute monarch of Swaziland King Mswati III with the Commonwealth Charter: Courtesy picture

See also

No let-up in restrictions of freedom of association and assembly in Swaziland: Human Rights Watch

Swaziland in economic freefall with human rights failings, report shows

Police violence, undemocratic elections, hunger and disease: highlights of Swaziland’s human rights violations

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