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RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

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AS a Christian, a colleague of mine has always got the better of me and he had mastered this tactic. When I am arguing on a certain point he will always say “as a Christian you must always ask yourself what Jesus would have done in the situation if he was still on earth.”

This is a question that always leads me to sympathise with the poor and downtrodden, those without power and in need. That is why I usually sympathise with teachers in their mass actions but what they did when they were marching to the US Embassy made me feel bad about those few who attacked the journalist. The journalist had a right to practice his trade without interference.

That they were exercising their freedom of expression is good but the same right equates to the journalist who had a right to practice his trade. So in this instance I stand against the teachers in their act and it should be condemned.

Teachers must not stoop so low to violate other people’s rights.
This act, however, got me thinking, if the duty bearer when it comes to promotion and protection of human rights is the one violating same, what would the others do? Our government which is supposed to be promoting and protecting human rights is the major violator of human rights and therefore even the others are now following same.

The Executive arm of government has no regard for human rights and this is evidenced by the lack of full support to the Human Rights Commission. I have always been barking at the Commission for not doing their job but in as much as I do not condone their lack of activity, I also feel for them because they are not provided with adequate resources to carry out their mandate.

They are understaffed and they are not provided with enough money to carry out their job. They are also afraid to take on government on its violation of human rights because they fear that government will then not “feed a dog that will come back to bite him.” The government does not adhere to the Paris Principles when it comes to the Commission.


Government have also devised a good strategy when it wants to violate people rights. An example is what we have witnessed when members of the Royal Swaziland Police violated people who were exercising their right to expression. Government was aware that she was going to set the police against the people exercising their rights and therefore decided to ‘bribe’ the police with salary increments disguised as promotion so that the police would act against the people. It is this very same government that ‘bribed’ the police so that they will agree to invigilate exams in schools. The question is, was the environment conducive for children to write exams while police were lurking around? We all know that most people are afraid of police officers and I could only imagine how the children were writing with that fear. To me this is tantamount to violation of the right to education because some of the children are going to fail, not because they deserve to fail but the learning environment was not conducive as they feared the police and I must mention that it happened at the crucial time of the year.


We all know that the executive generally does have the propensity to violate human rights and the Judiciary should then come in to assist. The executive have powers than the citizens and therefore the scales are tilted in favour of the Executive and therefore the Judiciary is there to balance the power. But in this country we are witnessing the direct opposite. The Judiciary seem to be assisting in the violation of people’s rights. It is a fact that it’s a violation of a person’s rights to be wrongly taken into custody. But we have seen magistrates giving outrageous rulings and people taken into custody. True that sometimes the people are then released but they would have already spent a night in custody and would have wasted a lot of resources which most of the time they do not have, to instruct lawyers to assist them. The worst part is that this is known by the Judiciary and there is nothing being done to the magistrates who violate these people’s rights.
Recently we have seen the courts stopping workers from exercising their rights because it is said there is no government. I wonder if the rights of the people should be suspended because there is no government in place. To me this was a plot to have the exercise of their right made weak because there is no pressure that the government will feel even if the teachers were to strike in January. So their action will render a nullity. I will not want to get into the Sipho Shongwe case where the court demonstrated that a person in this country is guilty till proven innocent. My opinion therefore is that there is no dedication to the respect of human rights in this country.

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