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INVESTIGATE KILLING - UN HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

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MBABANE – The United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Turk, has called on Eswatini to swiftly and impartially investigate the brutal killing of Human Rights Lawyer Thulani Maseko.

Maseko was shot dead on Saturday night by an unknown gunman at his parental home at KaLuhleko, around 50 kilometres (30 miles) from the capital city, Mbabane. He was shot through the window while he was with his family. In a statement issued yesterday, Turk said Maseko was a stalwart of human rights who, at great risk to himself, spoke up for many who could not speak up for themselves.  Turk said Maseko’s cold-blooded killing had deprived Eswatini, southern Africa and the world of a true champion and advocate for peace, democracy and human rights. In addition to calling for an investigation of Maseko’s death, Turk demanded that the Eswatini authorities ensure the safety and security of all emaSwati, including human rights defenders, journalists and political activists and protect civic space.

Turk called on the Eswatini authorities to ensure a prompt, independent, impartial and effective investigation into Maseko’s killing and to hold all those responsible to account in fair trials. Maseko, a leading human rights lawyer and columnist, was the founder of the Multi-Stakeholder Forum (MSF), a coalition of opposition parties, associations and churches. The VOA Africa, an international media house, noted that in 2014, Maseko was jailed for contempt of court over articles critical of the government and Judiciary, but was acquitted on appeal and released a year later and he had a pending court battle over the Monarch’s decision to rename the country Eswatini. The country’s name was changed from Swaziland to Eswatini to mark the 50th anniversary of its independence from Britain in 2018. Maseko’s position was that the Constitution had not been followed in the process of the name-change.

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