Annual Report: Swaziland 2010

Report
May 28, 2010

Annual Report: Swaziland 2010

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  • On 16 April church and labour union organizers had to call off a march for free education after violence erupted. A breakaway group damaged property and assaulted a police officer. The security forces used disproportionate force against some demonstrators, including a man whom they beat with batons, kicked, strangled and stamped on apparently because he had insulted the national flag.
  • On 4 September,Wandile Dludlu, president of SWAYOCO, the Swaziland Youth Congress, was unlawfully arrested by four police officers near the border with South Africa. He was taken to a forested area near Bhunya and interrogated about weapons while being subjected to repeated suffocation torture, with his hands and ankles tied tightly behind him. About seven hours later the police dumped him, uncharged, in Mbabane. He needed hospital treatment for injuries and psychological trauma consistent with his allegations. He lodged a criminal complaint against named police officers at Mbabane police station, but by the end of the year the investigation had not resulted in any arrests. He also lodged a civil claim for damages.
  • On 21 September, Correctional Services security officers, without issuing a warning to disperse, assaulted political activists who had gathered peacefully to wait for the release of Mario Masuku (see above) from Matsapha Central Correctional facility. The security officers also demanded that journalists stop filming and photographing their actions. They seized cameras and other reporting equipment and verbally abused, threatened and physically assaulted several journalists. The police investigation into the incident had not resulted in any arrests by the end of the year. In addition, no publicly known steps were taken by the authorities against the Department of Correctional Services, despite public calls for an inquiry into the violence and the intimidation of media workers.

Poverty, HIV and the right to health

Swaziland's HIV prevalence rate remained the highest in the world. Most recent available UNAIDS statistics indicated that 42 per cent of pregnant women attending antenatal clinics in 2008 were HIV positive. Access to antiretroviral treatment for AIDS continued to increase, but lack of access to adequate daily food, particularly in rural areas, continued to impede the ability of people living with AIDS to adhere to the treatment, which must be taken with food at regular intervals daily.

An estimated 256,383 people required food aid. Fifteen per cent of households were headed by orphaned children.

In October on World Poverty Day, the UN Resident Coordinator expressed concern that there were no signs of abatement in poverty levels.

Substantial gender differences in rates of poverty and HIV infection persisted, with women disproportionately affected and infected. Women continued to experience violations of their sexual and reproductive rights through violence or threats of violence from male partners refusing to use condoms.

In November, the Campaign on Accelerated Reduction of Maternal Mortality in Swaziland was launched with official support. The maternal mortality ratio was estimated to be 370 per 100,000 live births in 2006.

Women's and children's rights

In March, the High Court ruled that the government was obliged, under the Constitution, to provide children with free primary school education. However, the Prime Minister stated that the ruling could only be implemented in phases from 2010.

Finalization of draft legislation affecting women's right to equality under the law and on children's rights continued to be delayed, despite the appointment of additional legislative drafters by the Ministry of Justice to speed up the reform of laws in conflict with the Constitution.

In October, parliament passed the People Trafficking and People Smuggling (Prohibition) Bill.

Death penalty

Although the 2006 Constitution permits the use of capital punishment, no executions have been carried out since 1983. No new death sentences were imposed in 2009. Three people remained under sentence of death.

Amnesty International visit/reports

Amnesty International delegates visited Swaziland in March.