The rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly continued to be violated, with arbitrary arrests and excessive force used to crush political protests. Torture and other ill-treatment remained a persistent concern. Some progress was made in the reform of laws which discriminated against women.
The government’s financial situation remained precarious despite increased revenue from the Southern African Customs Union. Its efforts to secure loans from various sources were not successful, partly due to its failure to implement fiscal reforms, and its unwillingness to accept conditions, including instituting political reforms. Pressure on public sector workers, including teachers, led to prolonged strikes. Political groupings and civil society organizations renewed calls for political transformation. The House of Assembly passed an unprecedented vote of no confidence in the government in October.Top of page
There was continued pressure on the independence of the judiciary throughout the year, with consequences for access to justice.
In March, Swaziland’s human rights record was assessed under the UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR). Swaziland reconfirmed its rejection of recommendations to allow political parties to participate in elections. Swaziland also confirmed that it intended to ratify the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture, but had not done so by the end of the year.
In May the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights adopted a resolution expressing alarm at the government’s failure to implement the Commission’s decision of 2002 and recommendations made in 2006 relating to the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly.
It also expressed concern at the de-registration of the newly formed Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA).Top of page
The rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly continued to be violated, with police using rubber bullets, tear gas and batons to break up demonstrations and gatherings viewed as illegal.
Torture and other ill-treatment remained a concern, with a High Court judge in April calling for a commission of inquiry into repeated allegations by accused in criminal trials that they had been subjected to torture, which included beatings and suffocation. Deaths under suspicious circumstances and the failure of the authorities to ensure independent investigation and accountability continued to cause concern. Police and members of the military were implicated in the reported incidents.
In November, the Supreme Court of Appeal rejected David Simelane’s appeal against his death sentence imposed in 2011 at the conclusion of his 10-year-long trial for the murder of 34 women. In the same month, Mciniseli Jomo Simelane was sentenced to death by the High Court for murder.Top of page
In March, at the UN Universal Periodic Review session, Swaziland accepted to amend “without delay” laws which discriminate against women.
In June the Deeds Registry (Amendment) Bill was passed by parliament. The Bill amended a provision in the original Act which prevented most women married under civil law from legally registering homes in their own name.
The Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Bill had still not been tabled in the Senate by the end of the year, although it was passed by the lower house of parliament in October 2011.
In September The Children’s Protection and Welfare Act was assented to by the King. The new law increased protection against forced marriage for girls and young women. The organization Swaziland Action Group Against Abuse publicly expressed alarm that a senior adviser to the King on traditional law and custom announced an intention to seek a court review of the Act.Top of page