MBABANE: Alexa Amesbury, the Commissioner Rapporteur on the Human Rights Situation in the Kingdom of Eswatini has written a letter to King Mswati's government calling upon the government to adhere to principles established in the African Union’s Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa.
Eswatini, a tiny Kingdom situated in Southern Africa and ruled by King Mswati as an absolute Monarch has about 70% of the population living below the poverty line, political parties are banned from participating in elections.Political activists, independent journalists and human rights activists are arrested, tortured and killed by the police for criticising the King and his government.
Prince Majaha, a son to King Mswati recently celebrated the death of SWADEPA President Jan Sithole, he subsequently revealed to the Times of Swaziland that he hated anyone who gave his father a hard time by calling for democracy, a doctor's report confirmed by Sithole’s political party reflected that poison was found on his body before he died.
The letter dated 17th February 2021 seen by this Swaziland News and addressed to Princess Sikhanyiso, the Minister of Information Communication(ICT) comes shortly after the King’s government unleashed a battalion of police officers on independent journalists and subsequently manipulated the Cyber Crime and Computer Crime Bill to target online publications critical of the government.
"Your Excellency, we call on the Government of Eswatini to use the principles established in the Declaration for purposes of ensuring the rights to freedom of expression and access to information which enunciated in Article 9 of the African Charter. In particular, we encourage the Government to ensure that all new and pending bills, including the draft Computer and Cyber Crime Bill are drafted in accordance with the principles and guidelines contained in the Declaration" ,read the letter in part.
A questionnaire including a copy of the letter from the African Union was sent to Government's Spokesperson Sabelo Dlamini, however, he had not responded at the time of compiling this report.
Reached for comments, Mbongseni Shabangu, the Secretary General of the Swaziland Democratic Party (SWADEPA) said it was very unfortunate that the country was carefully guarded and on international spotlight for violating freedom of expression and access to information after targeting independent journalists and failing to respect the Bill of Rights.
"Its so unfortunate that Eswatini's oppressive tendencies are now being carefully watched and guarded by Regional, Continental and international bodies. Why do we have to be reminded by the international community as a country not to oppress people?" said the SWADEPA Secretary General.
Kingdom of eSwatini