Swaziland. Amnesty International and the international legal community in January criticized the anti-terrorism legislation that Swaziland introduced the year before. According to countryaah, the critics claimed that it threatened human rights and violated both international law and the country’s own constitution. According to Amnesty, it led to violations of freedom of expression, association and meeting. The law allowed the government to declare an organization, statement or document as a terrorist threat and opened to a sentence of 25 years in prison.
In June, leading human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko was arrested, who has long challenged the regime through important legal cases. He was charged with rebellion. Among those charged with terrorism and insurgency during the year was Mario Masuku, leader of the opposition movement PUDEMO (People’s United Democratic Movement). Police made raids in homes and offices of PUDEMO members and of the Socio-Economic Justice Foundation. In September, Masuku was released from the prosecution after ten months in custody. He had been accused of being behind the bombing in the capital Mbabane, which he refused. PUDEMO and three other organizations had been banned and marked as a terrorist organization. The Prohibited Movement The liberation army of the Umban people took on the blame for the bombing.
In neighboring South Africa, the trade union movement and the Communist Party demanded that the new President Jacob Zuma act against the oppression of human rights in Swaziland. But Zuma’s personal friendship with King Mswati seemed to prevent this. However, according to South African data, there were pressures through silent diplomacy. In December, Mario Masuku declared that his movement was prepared for constructive dialogue with the government, after King Mswati had expressed that his government was willing to negotiate with the opposition. Two-thirds of the population of Swaziland was estimated to live on less than two dollars a day, while the king continued his luxury life. In April it was reported that he had purchased several luxurious and bulletproof Mercedes cars for the equivalent of just over SEK 5 million each. The cars were built to withstand chemical weapons as well.
According to figures during the year, Swaziland had the highest proportion of HIV infected in the world. About 42 percent of women had HIV, and the life expectancy of the population was only 37 years. According to the Minister of Health, the increase in HIV infection among young women showed that the information provided has no intended effect. In Swaziland, men are circumcised, which can reduce the risk of HIV infection but, on the other hand, increase men’s risk behavior.