Swaziland: Arrests of human rights activists condemned
Amnesty International calls for an end to the harassment of human rights defenders and political activists in Swaziland following the arrest of nearly 50 people at an activists’ gathering in the city of Manzini.
Most of those arrested were released without charge within hours however 16 people remain in custody. They include members of southern African and international trade union organisations. Amnesty International calls for their immediate release.
Amnesty International’s Swaziland Researcher, Mary Rayner said:
“The arbitrary arrest of these political activists, lawyers, trade unionists and journalists is nothing short of police harassment and intimidation.”
The arrests occurred when police broke up a meeting organised by a broad coalition of groups campaigning for political change in Swaziland. Police also arrested at least one journalist covering the event and assaulted a human rights defender who had photographed the police actions.
The mass arrests occurred just before two days of planned pro-democracy demonstrations across the country.
Political activists, human rights defenders and trade unionists have been harassed, threatened, ill-treated and detained by the Swaziland police over the past year under draconian anti-terrorism legislation.