Swaziland Ignores Rights of Free Speech and Public Protest | Freedom House

Swaziland Ignores Rights of Free Speech and Public Protest

Freedom House condemns the unlawful arrests and detentions carried out by police against University of Swaziland students as well as farmers in Swaziland’s Vuvulane area. The government of Swaziland should immediately end these violations of Swazi citizens’ basic freedoms.

In recent days, both groups have been subject to repeated arrests, and students have complained of being beaten by police.

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. His 27-year 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.

Learn more:

Freedom in the World 2013: Swaziland

Freedom of the Press 2013: Swaziland

Special Report: Swaziland: A Failed Feudal State

Blog: Freedom at Issue