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356 USA PARLY MEMBERS MUST PASS ESWATINI RESOLUTION

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MBABANE – The joint resolution on Eswatini would require support from 356 members of both US Senate and House of Representatives, it has been established.

At least 66 senators would have to pass the joint resolution. There are 100 members of Senate with voting powers. In the House of Representatives, 290 members should vote in support of the joint resolution. The House of Representatives is made up of 435 elected members, divided among the 50 States in proportion to their total population. It must be said that voting powers rest with the 435 members. At least, two-thirds of the total membership of the Chambers should vote in favour of the resolution. It is not clear when the joint resolution on Eswatini will be debated and put to a vote. In addition to the number of voting members in the House of Representatives, there are six non-voting members, representing the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and four other territories of the United States -American Samoa, Guam, the US Virgin Islands, and the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands.

joint resolution

Joint resolutions are designated H.J. Res. or S.J. Res. and are followed by a number. Like a Bill, according to the Senate literature, a joint resolution requires the approval of both Chambers in identical form and the president’s signature to become law. On April 27, 2023, Senators Chris Coons, James Risch, Cory Booker and Tim Scott introduced the joint resolution on Eswatini. It condemned the human rights record of the Government of Eswatini and the killing of Eswatini Human Rights Lawyer Thulani Maseko in January 2023. The four senators urged Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen to consider targeted sanctions against any individuals or entities committing gross human rights violations in Eswatini. Additionally, they called on the Government of Eswatini to conduct a transparent and thorough investigation into the assassination of Maseko.

There is no real difference between a joint resolution and a Bill. The joint resolution is generally used for continuing or emergency appropriations. They are also used for proposing amendments to the Constitution and such resolutions must be approved by two-thirds of both Chambers and three-fourths of the States, but do not require the president’s signature to become part of the Constitution. Joint resolutions are different from concurrent resolutions and simple resolutions.

Concurrent Resolutions

Information sourced from the Senate library is clear that concurrent resolutions must be passed in the same form by both houses, but they do not require the signature of the president.
They do not have the force of law. It must be said that concurrent resolutions are generally used to make or amend rules that apply to both houses. They are also used to express the sentiments of both of the houses. “For example, a concurrent resolution is used to set the time of Congress’ adjournment,” according to the US Senate report. It may also be used by Congress to convey congratulations to another country on the anniversary of its independence. Another important use of the concurrent resolution is for the annual congressional budget resolution, which sets Congress’ revenue and spending goals for the upcoming fiscal year.

Simple Resolutions

Simple resolutions address matters entirely within the prerogative of one House, such as revising the standing rules of one Chamber. Simple resolutions are also used to express the sentiments of a single house, such as offering condolences to the family of a deceased member of Congress, or it may give ‘advice’ on foreign policy or other executive business. They neither require the approval of the other house nor the signature of the president. Basically, they do not have the force of law.

Bills

Bills are prefixed with H.R. when introduced in the House and S. when introduced in the Senate. They are followed by a number based on the order in which they are introduced. The vast majority of legislative proposals are in the form of Bills. Bills deal with domestic and foreign issues and programmes, and they also appropriate money to various government agencies and programmes. The Times SUNDAY has learnt that public Bills pertain to matters that affect the general public or classes of citizens, while private Bills affect just certain individuals and organisations.

benefits

In the US, a private Bill provides benefits to specified individuals (including corporate bodies). Individuals sometimes request relief through private legislation when administrative or legal remedies are exhausted. Many private Bills deal with immigration–granting citizenship or permanent residency. They may also be introduced for individuals who have claims against the government, veterans’ benefits claims, claims for military decorations, or taxation problems. If a private Bill is passed in identical form by both houses of Congress and is signed by the president, it becomes a private law. When Bills are passed in identical form by both Chambers of Congress and signed by the president (or re-passed by Congress over a presidential veto), they become laws. In their joint resolution, the senators alleged that Eswatini’s Government remained repressive as human rights defenders faced repression and persecution.
They said Thulani Maseko, a prominent Human Rights Lawyer in Eswatini, was shot and killed by an unknown gunman on January 21, 2023.

According to the resolution, Eswatini authorities have failed to announce progress on an independent investigation to identify those responsible for this crime and bring them to justice.
They said human rights advocates believed that Maseko was killed by pro-government forces because of his agitation for human rights.

criminal investigation

“Thulani Maseko was a champion of social justice and human rights in Eswatini, one of the world’s last absolute monarchies. I strongly condemn Thulani’s brutal killing and the Eswatini Government’s failure to undertake a full, transparent, and impartial criminal investigation into his assassination,” said Senator Coons. “I join my colleagues in introducing a bipartisan resolution condemning the human rights record of the government of the Kingdom of Eswatini and the murder of Maseko on January 21.” Senator Risch, who also signed the resolution, said it was an important signal from Congress that they have not forgotten the assassination of Maseko. They said it was also a signal that they were aware of the dire human rights situation in Eswatini. “The United States must continue to call for an independent and credible investigation into Maseko’s murder and accountability for those responsible,” Senator Risch said.

Senator Booker mentioned that human rights defenders in Eswatini and countries around the world have faced repression and persecution for many years. He said they should speak out when those human rights defenders were under threat. “In addition to bringing attention to the unresolved death of Eswatini Human Rights Lawyer Thulani Maseko, this resolution underscores the deterioration of human rights in one of the world’s last absolute monarchies,” he stated when motivating the joint resolution. Senator Scott also had something to say about the issue. He said speaking up for those who could not speak for themselves “is a constant reminder in scripture for the role of any public servant.

deep concern

“That is why I join my colleagues in expressing deep concern over the worsening cycle of political violence and suppression of free speech in Eswatini. Transparency and accountability must be restored with respect to public officials complicit in extrajudicial killings, torture, and other egregious human rights violations,” Senator Scott said. Meanwhile, the principal mover of the joint resolution, Senator Coons, is Chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations (SFOPS), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and co-chair of the Senate Human Rights Caucus. On a matter that is similar or almost similar to the Eswatini case, 53 groups in the USA urged passage of Senate 502B resolution on Saudi Arabia. They expressed their support of the resolution on April 3, 2023. The organisations wrote to express their strong support for Senator Chris Murphy and Senator Mike Lee’s resolution requesting a report on human rights conditions in Saudi Arabia under Section 502B(c) of the Foreign Assistance Act.

Govt blasts resolution

The Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini warned that Senator Christopher Coons should not become a political conduit for the Mass Democratic Movement (MDM). In a statement in response to a US Senate resolution on alleged violation of human rights in Eswatini, government said the senators could not and must not succeed in becoming the MDM’s political conduits. “Members of Parliament of Western countries such as Senator Christopher Coons of the United States Senate, cannot and must not succeed, in becoming political conduits for the so called ‘mass democratic movement’ which is seeking to overthrow the obtaining political system of the Kingdom of Eswatini through the use of violence, destruction, intimidation, revolution, and of late and as proposed by Senator; the use of illegal sanctions as a  political weapon against individuals citizens of our country,” stated Alpheous Nxumalo, the Government Press Secretary. “Neither should senators or members of Parliament of the calibre of  Senator Coons, be allowed to succeed in running a targeted campaign of retaliation against the Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini by the Government of the United States of America.”

Nxumalo said genuine and highly reputable political internationalists should base their arguments or resolutions on political facts and realities. He warned against basing resolutions on political fictions, theories or even perceptions emanating from singular or biased political lobbying. “If this trend of blindly buying into political revolutionaries in the name of calling genuine political reforms continues unabated, it will destroy the moral political fiber and the worldwide positive influence wielded by the Congress of the United States of America around the globe,” stated Nxumalo.

wrong statement

He said government found it difficult and almost impossible to logically respond to the resolution of Senator Coons, because it was based on wrong statement of facts. He said the principles of natural justice demanding or warranting that one should be given an audience before judgment, was completely overlooked and ignored in this situation. “And we all know that this is not only un-American but also a traverse of justice. These are the political fault lines that are destroying the body politik (politics) of Washington DC,” Nxumalo said. Politik is a German word meaning the politics of realism. Nxumalo said the existing cordial diplomatic relations between the Kingdom of Eswatini and the United States of America have endured many political storms in the past. He said these relations have reached a matured stage where there was no room for agitation or sabotage of each other’s interests within the international system through illegal sanctions.

He mentioned that every opportunity, challenge or misunderstanding has a room for consistent friendly engagement and diplomatic negotiations. “Senators and/or members of Parliament around the globe whose political consciousness and sense of right and proper political judgment have been auctioned to their highest bidder of those who were peddling conspiracies and ‘winter or summer resolutions’ against the country should stop mimicking the political vocabulary, terminology and language of the so called ‘pro democracy or democratic mass movement’ in the country,” the government press secretary said.

diplomatic relations

He said the Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini maintained an open mind and door policy of engagement. As a result, he said any person who might have an interest in the kingdom’s affairs and Statecraft should be free to approach the government directly or through its respective diplomatic mission stations around the globe for information and assistance. “The Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini, hereby, reiterates her good standing and warm diplomatic relations between the two countries,” he said. The government spokesperson said government assured all emaSwati that resolutions taken by other nations or States about the country remained unbinding. He said they were not applicable to the country because laws of the kingdom were not enacted in the other countries but only within the Monarchy itself. He said application of such laws or any other investigative processes were also not driven from other country’s various capitals but only from within the Kingdom of Eswatini.

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