AFRICAN COMMISSION’S FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION AND THE RIGHT TO
INFORMATION PRESENTATION SUBMITTED BY THE LAWYERS FOR HUMAN
RIGHTS REPRESENTATIVE JAN SITHOLE, AFTER SUBMISSION OF THE SPECIAL
RAPPOTEUR ADVOCATE PANTSY TLAKULA
Madame Chairperson, We would like to express our appreciation for the eloquent and informative and action packed report to activities by the special Rapporteur Advocate Tlakula;
Her work is most valued by the Lawyers for Human Rights in Swaziland, and we join all those who have welcomed her re-election to the role she has played so effectively in her previous term.
We also wish to extend our appreciation to all governments who continue to associate with the dictates of the charter by way ratify the instrument on Freedom of Association and the right to information; we hope many of the governments who have not yet ratified will demonstrate their commitment to the African Union commission by ratifying, domesticating and implementing in law and in spirit the dictates of the charter to the benefit of their citizens.
Swaziland after 30 years of a state of emergency rule, adopted a constitution in 2005, which whilst it contains the full list of the Bill of rights including and not limited to Freedom of Association, Assembly, expression and the right to information on the one hand, it takes away most of these rights on the other by the excessive claw back clauses, as a result of this;
· Political parties remain banned as they have no right to participate in elections and cannot contest for political office.
· Human rights defenders and Activists have no access to state owned print and electronic media houses.
· Political activists an human rights defenders are regularly exposed to
o Arbitrary searches
o Arbitrary arrests
o Arbitrary detentions during peaceful protest marches.
· On April 12th this year, two South African journalists who had come cover a peaceful protest action of workers who wanted to submit petitions to government on several socio-economic issues were detained deported.
We call upon the Special Rapporteur to have regular visitations and to urge the government of Swaziland to:
· stop harassment of Human rights defenders and activists
· Enable human defenders, labor leaders and political activists’ access to the free exercise of their rights to Association, expression, assembly and the right to information through the use of national electronic media.
· Unban political parties in Swaziland
· Enable the peoples of Swaziland the right to exercise and enjoy their inalienable right to self determination as envisaged by the African charter on Human and People’s rights particularly since the Swaziland Government voluntarily ratified the Charter in 1995.
Madam Chair I thank you for the opportunity.
Jan J. Sithole