286: Resolution on Freedom of Expression in the Kingdom of Swaziland.
The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the Commission) meeting at its 16th Extraordinary Session held from 20 to 29 July 2014, in Kigali, Republic of Rwanda;
Recalling its mandate to promote and protect human and peoples’ rights in Africa pursuant to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Charter);
Recalling further Article 9 of the African Charter, which provides that every individual shall have the right to receive information and to express and disseminate his or her opinions within the law, as well as other international human rights instruments, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR);
Bearing in mind the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa (the Declaration) which supplements Article 9 of the African Charter, in particular, Principles I (1) and II (2) of the Declaration which provides that freedom of expression and information is a fundamental and inalienable human right, whose restriction should be provided by law and serve a legitimate interest in a democratic society;
Recalling the Letter of Appeal of 24 March 2014 by the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa regarding the alleged arrest of Mr. Thulani Rudolf Maseko and Mr. Bheki Makhubu;
Underlining Principle XI (1) of the Declaration, which provides that “…intimidation of, and threats to media practitioners and others exercising their right to freedom of expression…undermines independent journalism, freedom of expression and the free flow of information to the public,” and Principle XI (2) which puts an obligation on State Parties “to take effective measures to prevent such attacks and, when they do occur, to investigate them, to punish perpetrators and to ensure that victims have access to effective remedies;”
Recalling Resolutions on the Situation of Freedom of Expression in Africa, including: Resolution ACHPR/Res.54(XXIX)01, adopted during the 29th Ordinary Session, held in Tripoli, the Great Socialist Peoples’ Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, from 23 April to 07 May 2001; Resolution ACHPR/Res.99(XXXX)06, adopted during the 40th Ordinary Session, held in Banjul, The Gambia, from 15 to 29 November 2006; and Resolution ACHPR/Res.166(XLVII)10, adopted during the 27th Ordinary Session, held in Banjul, The Gambia, from 12 to 26 May 2010;
Further recalling Resolution ACHPR/Res.216(LI)2012: Resolution on the Human Rights Situation in the Kingdom of Swaziland, adopted during the 51st Ordinary Session, held in Banjul, The Gambia, from 18 April to 2 May 2012, which called on the Government of the Kingdom of Swaziland to respect the rights to freedom of expression, freedom of association, and freedom of assembly, and urged the Government to take all necessary measures to ensure the conduct of free, fair and credible elections in 2013;
Underscoring the fundamental importance of freedom of expression and information as an individual human right, as a cornerstone of democracy and as a means of ensuring respect for all human rights and freedoms;
Deeply concerned about continuous allegations of the violation of the right to freedom of expression in general and in particular the conviction and sentencing of Mr. Thulani Rudolf Maseko, a prominent human rights lawyer, and Mr. Bheki Makhubu, a journalist in the Kingdom of Swaziland, in relation to articles published in The Nation Magazine in February and March 2014;
1.Calls on the Government of the Kingdom of Swaziland to respect, protect and fulfill the rights to freedom of expression, freedom of association, and freedom of assembly as provided for in the African Charter, the UDHR, the ICCPR and other international and regional human rights instruments; 2.Calls on the Government of the Kingdom of Swaziland to take the necessary measures to stop all acts of harassment and intimidation carried out against human rights defenders and media practitioners working in the Kingdom of Swaziland and to respect and guarantee their right to freedom of opinion and expression.
Adopted at the 16th Extraordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights held from 20 to 29 July 2014 in Kigali, Republic of Rwanda
South Sudan women leaders threaten protests as peace talks stall
JUBA (6 Aug.) Radio Tamazuj
A coalition of South Sudanese women’s groups on Wednesday convened a press conference in Juba to demand that leaders of the country’s two warring factions, Salva Kiir and Riek Machar, reach a peace agreement at talks in Addis Ababa.
They announced the following message to Kiir and Machar:
“Stop the violence so that our children go back to school. Stop the war to allow the IDPs to go home and live with dignity. Stop the war to ensure the refugees come back home. Stop the war to give a way for all South Sudanese to regain their identity and dignity.”
This is the second peace petition by the women’s group, the South Sudan Women Platform for Peace. In late July over 100 members held a protest asking to present a peace petition to President Salva Kiir.
They were not satisfied when the Speaker of the National Assembly Manasseh Magok appeared to receive the petition on the president’s behalf, instead demanding to meet Kiir personally, as well as his vice president.
As reported by local media on 26 July, the women labeled the South Sudanese president “a stubborn child who does not listen to his mothers’ call.”
One of the group’s leaders Angelina Daniel reiterated the same point at the press conference on Wednesday, saying their appeal for peace has met with deaf ears, noting that the president had failed to attend to them.
Meanwhile, they are vowing more protests should they continue to be ignored.
“The women vowed to storm the warring leaders’ premises if not listened to through the press,” the local Catholic Radio Network reported.
Dudu Sebit, another member of the group, said they are denouncing losses of lives and misery of their children. She said they do not want to witness more atrocities.
In another development, civil society leader Deng Athuai, who was shot in the leg by an unknown attacker last Friday night, is calling on the international community to impose sanctions on leaders of the warring factions.
Speaking from his hospital bed to Radio Tamazuj, he urged other nations to seize bank accounts of South Sudanese politicians and to expel their children from their countries, so that they can return to South Sudan to face the same sufferings of disease, hunger and violence as ordinary citizens.
He was referring to the fact that many South Sudanese leaders send their children abroad rather than raising them in South Sudan itself.
Sudan, South Sudan Advisor
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