Eswatini: CIVICUS, FSEJ Demand Release of Activists

CIVICUS and Foundation for Socio-Economic Justice (FSEJ) have urged Eswatini authorities to immediately release pro-democracy activists Mduduzi Bacede Mabuza and Mthandeni Dube from prison.

Development Diaries reports that police arrested Mabuza and Dube, both members of parliament, on 25 July, 2021, amid a sweeping and violent crackdown on peaceful pro-democracy and anti-police protests.

It is understood that Mabuza and Dube face up to 20 years imprisonment after a flawed conviction on trumped-up charges.

‘As Eswatini celebrates the anniversary of its freedom from colonial rule, the authorities must free jailed activists Mduduzi Bacede Mabuza and Mthandeni Dube without delay’, said CIVICUS Chief Programmes Officer, Mandeep Tiwana.

‘Mabuza and Dube never should have been arrested in the first place, and should not spend one more minute behind bars’.

The civil society organisations (CSOs) believe that Mabuza and Dube’s imprisonment is part of a sharp downturn in rights in Africa’s last absolute monarchy.

Human Rights Watch (HRW), in June, reported that the crackdown on pro-democracy protesters by security forces had led to the death of at least 46 people, as well as other serious human rights abuses.

The report further noted that the Eswatini authorities have failed to ensure accountability for the crackdown.

The Eswatinian administration has increased its crackdown on dissenting views since protests for democracy first started in May 2021, detaining critics of the government on bogus charges, interfering with peaceful protests, and opposing calls for democratic reforms.

The protests erupted after the death of 25-year-old law student Thabani Nkomonye, allegedly at the hands of police.

Eswatini was ranked ‘not free’ in the 2023 Freedom in the World report by Freedom House, with the country scoring 17 out of a possible 100.

Development Diaries calls on the Eswatini authorities to respect the human rights of activists and conduct a transparent, independent, and impartial investigation into the killings and other human rights violations resulting from the security forces’ excessive use of force.

Photo source: Swazi Daily News


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