Font size: Decrease font Enlarge font

We are witnessing an unprecedented violation of human rights as social and mainstream media share horror images of human suffering in many parts of the world.

The Human Rights Watch, in its annual world report on human rights in more than 100 countries and territories, said; “Authoritarianism across the world is leading to a ‘sea of human suffering’. The wars have displaced millions, while hundreds of thousands have died, including children. We are also witnessing protests in many countries, where people are demanding their rights.’’ Many face tear gas and brutality as the right to protest is being denied in many countries, including Eswatini.

Let us be reminded that the country’s Constitution’s preamble states; “Whereas we the people of the Kingdom of Swaziland do hereby undertake in humble submissions to Almighty God to start afresh under a new framework of a constitutional dispensation.” Chapter 3 (14) states that the fundamental human rights and freedom of the individual enshrined in this chapter is hereby declared and guaranteed namely;
* Respect for life, right to fair hearing, equality before the law and equal protection of the law;
* Freedom of conscience, of expression and of peaceful assembly;
* Protection from inhumane degrading treatment, slavery and forced labour, arbitrary search and entry.

The fundamental rights and freedoms enshrined in this Constitution shall be respected by the Executive, Legislature, Judiciary and other organs of government, by all natural persons and legal persons in Swaziland and shall be enforceable by the courts.


I have note with pain as emaSwati are being failed in upholding these values. We have seen the denial of their right to deliver petitions and their right to be granted permits to protest are being denied by government ministers. We are witnessing unprecedented situations where individuals suspected of certain crimes are unable to access legal representatives because lawyers are being intimidated. The right to freely associate in political parties of our choice is also being denied as evidenced in the electoral process, which only provides for individual merit. Eswatini made a solemn pledge to God to start afresh, but the reality is that we are denied these rights. What has become of a nation that was known to be peaceful?

Let us be reminded that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)  was adopted by a newly-established United Nations (UN) on December 10, 1948, in response to the ‘barbarous acts which outraged the conscience of mankind’ during the World War II. Its adoption recognised human rights to be the foundation for freedom, justice and peace. To protect future generations from a repeat of these horrors, the UN adopted the UDHR in 1948 and invited States to sign and ratify it. It is recorded that the entire text of the UDHR was composed in less than two years. At a time when the world was divided into Eastern and Western blocks, finding common ground on what should make the essence of the document proved to be a colossal task.

The first draft of the declaration was proposed in September 1948 with over 50 member States participating in its final drafting. By its resolution 217 A (III) of December 10, 1948, the General Assembly, meeting in Paris, adopted the UDHR with eight nations abstaining from the vote but none dissenting. Hernan Santa Cruz, of Chile, a member of the drafting sub-committee, wrote: “I perceived clearly that I was participating in a truly significant historic event, in which a consensus had been reached as to the supreme value of the human person, a value that did not originate in the decision of a worldly power, but rather in the fact of existing – which gave rise to the inalienable right to live free from want and oppression and to fully develop one’s personality. In the Great Hall, there was an atmosphere of genuine solidarity and brotherhood among men and women from all latitudes, the likes of which I have not seen again in any international setting.”


Has the world forgotten what led to the adoption of this global human rights compact? Has the Eswatini Constitution become just ‘a paper’? Dr Martin Luther King Jr once observed, in the American setting, that this “was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of colour are concerned.” It pains me that we, in Eswatini, feel the same as Dr Martin Luther King Jr felt in the struggle for the rights of African-Americans in his homeland. We have inherited a promise in the Constitution that is marked ‘no cash’. May I remind government that human rights remain the foundation for peace.

Comments (0 posted):

Post your comment comment

Please enter the code you see in the image:

: Lutsango
Should Lutsango be included in bandlancane and traditional courts?