Response to unfounded claims regarding FIDH and eSwatini

Press release
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Gulshan Khan / AFP

6 June 2022 —The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) regrets the article published by The Sunday Independent in May 2022. The article, titled "International funders alleged to be behind eSwatini’s ‘winter revolution’," asserts several baseless claims that the present text aims to debunk.

FIDH is an international human rights organisation defending respect for fundamental freedoms, including the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression, as well as the principles of inclusive political dialogue between people and their governments. The claim that FIDH has funded protests calling for the removal of King Mswati in eSwatini is absurd and contrary to its mandate. FIDH has never donated any grant for any individual or organisation in eSwatini.

According to the unfounded article, a meeting was allegedly held in Mauritius in April attended by FIDH staff members and others and during which “a blueprint for the removal of King Mswati” was presented. The FIDH staff members mentioned above — Justine Lavarde, consultant for the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders desk at FIDH, and Hassatou Ba-Minté, head of the Africa desk — have no knowledge of this supposed event and have never traveled to Mauritius for professional reasons. Contrary to the claims of the unnamed source cited repeatedly in the article, FIDH is neither interested in nor involved in fomenting regime change in eSwatini or elsewhere.

FIDH has no knowledge of the supposed report Holding King Mswati to Account; in fact, the only recent work FIDH has done on eSwatini was a joint statement issued in July 2021 alongside dozens of other civil society groups “condemning the government’s violent repression of mass protests demanding democracy and economic justice.”

The assertions and insinuations of the 22 May article are preposterous and FIDH denies them in their entirety.

For all of these reasons, FIDH demands that the defamatory article be retracted immediately and a correction issued.

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