The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the Commission), through its Country Rapporteur for the Kingdom of eSwatini, Commissioner Alexia Amesbury is following with grave concern about the protests and confrontation between protesters and law enforcement personnel in the Kingdom of eSwatini.
The Commission learned that unrest erupted in eSwatini after demonstration by students calling for accountability for the death of a 25-year old law student allegedly at the hands of police grew into daily marches calling for democratic reforms in the country.
The Commission further learned from reports that the Kingdom took a number of measures in the wake of the protests including the deployment of law enforcement institutions, the arrest of protestors and the suspension of the internet.
The Commission also notes with regret that the situation has led among others in the destruction of property and most disturbingly the loss of some 30 people.
The Commission affirms the right of peaceful protests as integral part of the right to freedom of assembly, freedom of association and freedom of expression and riots ransacking targeted property and business establishments or essential public infrastructure is not covered by this right.
The Commission underscores that the law enforcement personnel deployed for policing of protests and riots should exercise maximum restraint and avoid acts that lead to arbitrary deprivation of life contrary to Article 4 of the African Charter.
Noting that reports of violations of human rights by law enforcement, the Commission therefore calls on the Government of the Kingdom of eSwatini, to:
1) Immediately halt the use by police of live ammunition
2) Comply with the principles of precaution, proportionality and necessity in the use of force avoiding at all times the use of lethal force except as a last resort measure for preventing serious harm.
3) To ensure that there are prompt, transparent, effective, independent and impartial investigations into all allegations of human rights violations, particularly the use of excessive force by security forces;
4) Avail those whose rights have been violated by members of law enforcement institutions to have unhindered access to remedies, including reparation and compensation with indigent victims provided legal assistance;
5) To ensure that access to the internet is not disrupted;
The African Commission avails itself to accompany eSwatini in its effort to ensure compliance with the standards of the African Charter on the basis of the foregoing by its law enforcement institutions.
Honourable Commissioner Alexia Amesbury,
Commissioner Rapporteur for the Kingdom of Eswatini