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Swaziland reported to African Commission for violation of human rights
Mbabane: Five non-governmental organisations made various statements regarding human rights violation in Swaziland during a recent 51st Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights in Banjul, The Gambia. The organisations in question are Human Rights Institute of Southern Africa (HURISA), Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA), International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and Human Rights Watch as well as Women and Law in Southern Africa (WLSA).
WLSA made a statement on the situation of women's human rights in Swaziland.
Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) Swaziland Chairperson Mandla Mkhwanazi, in a statement, said all these organisations were concerned with the violations of human rights by government and its agencies. He said these organisations further urged the African Commission to engage government to ensure that it complies in law, spirit and in practice with all Conventions, Charters, Guidelines and Protocols it (government) had ratified.
Mkhwanazi said the NGO forum took certain resolutions pertaining to Swaziland. The NGO forum noted the following regarding Swaziland;
* It was observed that, for almost four decades, as consequence of the 1973 state of emergency decreed by King Sobhuza II, systemic human rights violations have continued unabated leading to varying degrees of serious physical and psychological harm to persons and families in Swaziland.
* The prevailing Tinkhundla system of government is structurally unsound, profoundly anti-democratic, economically unjust, and fundamentally corrupt. This system is insensitive and non-responsive to the needs and plight of the people.
* Press freedom is highly restricted and the press is largely state-owned. It is unprofessional, politically biased, tightly controlled and closely censured by government. Consequently, civil and political groups are routinely denied access to the media.
The role of civil groups in decision making has been relegated to the backyard as they are being treated with hostility and suspicion as nonentities where national policy formulation and implementation is concerned. The entire social dialogue process is heavily manipulated and does not include political discussions. Mass meetings organised by civic groups are regularly banned or invaded by the police.
NGO Forum calls for reversal of order to de-register TUCOSWA
THE NGO Forum has urged the country's authorities to cause a quick reversal of the order to de-register the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA). LHR Swaziland Chairperson Mandla Mkhwanazi, said one of the most heartening developments in Swaziland over the last year had been the emergence of a united and purposeful trade union federation bringing together all trade unions into a single entity, TUCOSWA.
He said the attention of NGO Forum had been drawn to the de-registration of the union by the office of the commissioner of labour acting on the advice of the attorney general. Mkhwanazi said the NGO Forum emphasised that the rights to form and join trade union organisations were fundamental human rights of workers that must be defended and promoted to provide opportunities for the attainment of democracy, peace, progress and social justice.
"The government's action unjustly infringes on the rights of workers in Swaziland to freely and independently form and join trade union organisations of their choice. This is unacceptable and demands urgent redress," he said. "The NGO Forum notes that Swaziland is a signatory to the African Union's Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Principles and Guidelines on Democratic Elections, as well as signatory to other bilateral and multilateral mechanisms for the promotion of democracy and human rights."
Mkhwanazi said Swaziland, therefore, was duty bound to practically observe, respect and fulfil these commitments.
- Resolutions on the Human Rights situation in the Kingdom of Swaziland:
The African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (the African Commission), meeting at its 51st Ordinary Session, in Banjul, The Gambia, from April 18 to May 2, 2012;
Recalling its mandate to promote and protect human and people's rights in Africa pursuant to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights (the African Charter); Underscoring the provisions of the African Charter, in particular; Articles 9, 10, 11, 13, and 18 (3), as well as other international human rights instruments, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and the Protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of Women in Africa;
Deeply concerned about allegations of the violation of the right to freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, and freedom of association which, if true, may affect the conduct of free, fair and credible elections in 2013;
Further concerned about the allegation of the violations of the rights of workers as seen in the de-registration of the recently formed TUCOSWA by the office of the commissioner of labour acting on the advice of the attorney general of the Swaziland government;
Alarmed by the failure of the Kingdom of Swaziland to implement the decision of the African Commission in Communication 251/2002- Lawyers for Human Rights v Swaziland, and the recommendations in the report adopted by the African Commission following a promotional mission to the country in August 2006;
i Calls on the government of the Kingdom of Swaziland to respect, protect and fulfil the rights to freedom of expression, freedom of association, and freedom of assembly as provided for in the African Charter, the UDHR, the ICCPR and other international and regional instruments;
ii. Calls on the government of the Kingdom of Swaziland to implement the decision of the African Commission in Communication 251/2002- Lawyers for Human Rights v Swaziland and submit a report on the status of implementation;
iii. Calls on the government of the Kingdom of Swaziland to implement the recommendations in the report adopted by the African Commission following a promotional mission to the country in August 2006;
iv. Further urges the government of the Kingdom of Swaziland to take all necessary measures to ensure the conduct of free, fair and credible elections in 2013; Done in Banjul, The Gambia, May 2, 2012. sourced from the internet
- It's all lies - Govt Spokesperson
Goveernment spokesperson Percy Simelane said it was not true that government was violating human rights. "This is all lies. They are not even giving examples," he remarked, reacting to the reports from the human rights meeting held in The Gambia.
On the de-registration of TUCOSWA, Simelane said the labour commissioner's office acted on the advice of the attorney general's office after realising that laws were not followed when the union was registered.
"The Industrial Relations Act is a joint effort by government, unions and employers. There were certain things which were overlooked when the Act was enacted in respect of how a union is registered. This is a not national concern, but a ministerial challenge. This is being corrected," Simelane said.