The United States is deeply concerned by the convictions of human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko and magazine editor Bheki Makhubu for contempt of court in the Kingdom of Swaziland. Both men denied the charges, saying they were expressing opinions in the public interest and calling for the rule of law to be upheld.
The men were detained in March after writing articles published in Mr. Makhubu’s magazine, The Nation, in which they raised concerns about judicial independence and integrity in Swaziland.
Amnesty International reported that Makhubu and Maseko were not arrested or tried in accordance with Swaziland’s normal legal processes. Bheki Makhubu and Thulani Maseko have spent over 100 days in Sidwashini jail.
“Their convictions for contempt of court for publishing an article critical of the High Court of Swaziland, and their ongoing detention,” said U.S. State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf, “appear to undermine respect for Swaziland’s human rights obligations, particularly the right to freedom of expression.” This right she noted is enshrined in Swaziland’s own constitution and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
The United States strongly supports the universal fundamental freedom of expression and urges the Swazi government to uphold the rights of Thulani Maseko and Bheki Makhubu to speak and report freely.