Swaziland’s Arrest of Human Rights Lawyer
June 3, 2009
Proving that Mswati can give Mugabe a run for his money, prominent Swazi human rights lawyer, Thulani Maseko has been arrested and detained. Initially, charged under the Suppression of Terrorism Act, which at least would have provided an opportunity to challenge the legality of that Act, Thulani is now being charged under the Sedition Act.
This is the same strategy employed in respect of Mario Masuku, president of the banned People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) — initially charged under the Terrorism Act, he now faces charges under the Sedition Act. Mr Masuku has been awaiting trial for six months.
Thulani has been acting as his lawyer. He has also acted recently in matters relating to whether police have the right to form trade unions, he took up an ambitious challenge to the Constitution itself and he recently won a very impressive victory in a judgement relating to the rights of schoolchildren to free education.
Zimbabwe has certainly merited all the attention it has received for its political crisis but I do think that, regionally and internationally, we may have been doing a disservice to human rights defenders in Swaziland by not paying enough attention to what has been happening there.