THREATS AGAINST MEMBERS OF THE SWAZILAND COALITION OF CONCERNED CIVIC ORGANISATIONS- SWZ 001 / 1108 / 196

21/11/2008
Urgent Appeal

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about threats faced by human rights defenders belonging to the Swaziland Coalition of Concerned Civic Organisations (SCCCO), in particular Mr. Musa Hlophe, Coordinator, and Mr. James Maina, in the context of a wave of repression affecting organisations labelled as "opposition groups".

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Swaziland.

Brief description of the situation:

According to the information received, on November 14, 2008, the Swazi Government closed down several political organisations under the Anti-Terrorism Act adopted in May 2008 after they were branded as enemies of peace, stability, security and national progress by the Government. Following these closures, a list of individuals labelled as terrorists would have been drawn up.

A few days later, on November 17, 2008, Attorney General Majahenkhaba Dlamini said that journalists who criticise the Government would be suspected of supporting "terrorists" and arrested under the new Anti-Terrorism Act. Indeed, some provisions of the Act empowers the Prime Minister to declare virtually anyone or anything to be a terrorist entity. The Observatory fears that the law will be applied to silence dissenting voices in Swaziland.

SCCCO has not been banned yet, but according to independent reports in the newspapers and to SCCCO, the Swazi authorities would be looking for information in order to arrest Mr. Musa Hlophe, SCCCO Coordinator. He is alleged to have made a litigious statement at the funeral of a dead lawyer, Mr. Musa ‘MJ’ Dlamini, who died in suspicious circumstances planting a bomb in September 2008.

Furthermore, Mr. James Maina, who is a Kenyan political refugee in Swaziland and, as such, is prohibited to take part in political affairs in Swaziland, fears that the Government might assimilate his human rights activities with political activities and attempt to deport him back to Kenya.

The Observatory expresses its deep concern about the situation prevailing in Swaziland and in particular that of human rights defenders, including Messrs. James Maina and Musa Hlophe.

The Observatory urges the Swazi authorities to put an end to any kind of harassment against all human rights defenders in Swaziland, as well as to conform with the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, especially its Article 1, which states that "everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels", article 9.3.c which states that "Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to offer and provide professionally qualified legal assistance or other relevant advice and assistance in defending human rights and fundamental freedoms" and Article 12.1, which provides that "everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to participate in peaceful activities against violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms".

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities in Swaziland, urging them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of all human rights defenders in Swaziland; in particular Messrs. Musa Hlophe and Mr. James Maina;

ii. Put an end to all forms of harassment against the activities of human rights organisations in Swaziland and ensure in all circumstances that their members are able to carry out their work freely without any hindrances;

iii. Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, especially its Article 1, which states that "everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels" and Article 12.2, which provides that ""the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration";

iv. More generally, ensure in all circumstances the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and with international human rights instruments ratified by Swaziland.

Addresses:

· King of Swaziland, Head of State and cheif of arm forces, MSWATI III, Royal Palace, Mbabane, Swaziland;
· First Minister, M. Barnabas Sibusiso DLAMINI, P O Box 395, Mbabane, Swaziland. Fax: (268)404 3943. E-mail (Secretary to Cabinet): sec-tocab@realnet.co.sz;
· The Ministry of justice dans constitutional affairs, Principal secretary, Mr Sicelo M. Dlamini, P.O. 924, Mbabane, Swaziland. Fax: (268)404 3533. E-mail address: psjustice@gov.sz; masilelasib@gov.sz;
· Attorney General, M. Majahenkhaba Dlamini, P.O. Box 578, Mbabane, Swaziland. Fax: (268) – 4044796. Email address: matsebulasa@gov.sz;
· Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of Swaziland to the Office of the United Nations and other international organizations in Geneva, Her Excellency Mrs. Thembayena Annastasia Dlamini, Chemin William-Barbey 51, 1292 Chambésy, Geneva. Fax: +41 22 758 94 24. Email: swazimission-geneva@dslnets.ch;
· Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of Swaziland to the Office of the United Nations in New-York, 408 East 50th Street, New York, NY 10022. Télécopieur : (212) 754-275.

Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of Swaziland in your respective country.

***
Paris-Geneva, November 21, 2008

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory, a FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need. The Observatory was the winner of the 1998 Human Rights Prize of the French Republic.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
Tel and fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 20 11 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29

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