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Advance questions and statement to Swaziland

Advance questions

  1. Norway is pleased that the Government of Swaziland has recently submitted proposed amendments to the Suppression of Terrorism Act and the Public Order Act to Parliament. What steps is the Government of Swaziland taking to ensure that these amendments are in line with international human rights standards?
  2. Norway notes with concern the continued reports of excessive use of force by law enforcement officials, including allegations of torture and ill-treatment. This includes the death in custody of Mozambican citizen Luciano Reginaldo Zavale. What steps will Swaziland take to ensure sufficient oversight and investigation of alleged human rights violations by the security forces? How will Swaziland ensure that the results of such investigations are made public?
  3. Norway is concerned that the judiciary in Swaziland may be subject to undue interference, as seen during the tenure of the previous Chief Justice. What measures are being put in place to safeguard the independence of the judiciary in line with the UN Basic Principles of the Independence of the Judiciary?
  4. Norway is also concerned that sexual minorities in Swaziland still face challenges related to access to health care, discrimination and prejudice. What steps will the Government of Swaziland take to prevent discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation? Will there be any efforts taken to decriminalize same-sex relations?

Statement:

Norway would like to thank Swaziland for the presentation of its national report. 

Norway is concerned with reports of continued harassment and persecution of political and human rights activists in Swaziland. Security legislation has repeatedly been used to target political opponents, and more than a dozen activists are still facing charges under such legislation. While we applaud the Government of Swaziland for submitting proposed amendments to controversial laws to Parliament, it is essential that these amendments conform to international human rights standards.

Norway recommends that Swaziland withdraw all criminal charges brought against human rights defenders and political opponents under laws such as the Suppression of Terrorism Act of 2008 and other security legislation, and ensure that proposed amendments to these acts bring them in conformity with international human rights standards.

We note with particular concern the challenges trade union confederations have faced and are facing in obtaining formal registration, the severe restrictions placed on political groupings, as well as forceful disruptions of peaceful gatherings.

Norway recommends that Swaziland remove all restrictions, in law and in practice, which prevent the full enjoyment of the right to freedom of association, including associating for the purposes of contesting political power, as guaranteed under the ICCPR, including by revoking the Royal Decree of 1973.

Norway is also troubled by the lacking legal protection of women who become victims of abuse. We recommend that Swaziland urgently enacts the Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Bill, and that the Government ensures that all domestic legislation is brought into conformity with the country’s commitments under CEDAW.