R2K: Press Swazi govt on human rights

2014-07-21 17:32
Right2Know activists. (File, Lohanna Hoffmann, Beeld)

Right2Know activists. (File, Lohanna Hoffmann, Beeld)

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Johannesburg - South African Chapter Nine institutions should put pressure on the Swazi government to protect human rights, the Right2Know Campaign (R2K) said on Monday.

This followed the conviction of a magazine editor and a human rights lawyer of contempt of court for articles critical of the government and judiciary.

R2K spokesperson Murray Hunter said in a statement that the Swazi government needed to be pressured to honour its obligations.

"The injustice of the charges against the two is a threat to justice for journalists across the region and the continent itself."

Agence France-Presse reported that political magazine editor Bheki Makhubu and executive member of Lawyers for Human Rights Swaziland Thulani Maseko were convicted in the Swaziland High Court on Thursday.

Judge Mpendulo Simelane said freedom of expression was not an absolute right.

"Journalists think that just because they have the power of the pen they can write anyhow under the guise of freedom of expression," Simelane was quoted as saying.

R2K condemned the judgment.

"This means that Swaziland's premier journalists will not be allowed to practice their craft without fear of arbitrary sanctions."

Hunter said the judgment would have a chilling effect on free speech in the country.

"The right to publish, assemble, speak and think are intricately linked and are central to democracy."

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