Freedom House Joins Archbishop Desmond Tutu, RFK Center, in Calling for End to Crackdown on Free Expression in Swaziland
June 5, 2014
As Swaziland’s Chief Justice continues to undermine the judicial process by threatening judges who oppose him with arrest, Freedom House joins key organizations and individuals in calling on King Mswati III to implement substantial reforms in an effort to guarantee freedom of expression and a return to the rule of law.
In March 2014, the Chief Justice organized the unlawful arrest of independent editor Bheki Mahkubu and human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko after the two criticized the judiciary in an article. Makhubu and Maseko have spent more than two months in jail, and are facing a show trial in which they could be sentenced to up to three years in prison.
“Swaziland already ranks near the bottom of the scale and cannot afford a further decline in its basic respect for the rule of law and the fundamental freedoms of its citizens,” said Jenai Cox, Sub-Saharan Africa program manager at Freedom House. “Charges against Makhubu, Maseko and those supporting them must be dropped at once before any reforms are made to the judicial system. The first step in reforming the judicial system should be to replace the current Chief Justice, who has defied the constitution through his actions on the court."