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By Citizen Reporter


Eswatini activist: Amnesty International calls for Colani Maseko’s release

Maseko was arrested with a co-activist Sibusiso Nkwanyane, who has since been released, by the security forces.

Human Rights Watch Group Amnesty International has joined growing calls for activist Colani Maseko to be released from prison.

Maseko was abducted by plain-clothed security officials from the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) on 31 January.

He is currently being held at the Royal Eswatini Police Headquarters in Manzini.

Maseko was arrested with a co-activist Sibusiso Nkwanyane, who has since been released, by the security forces.

Nkwanyane was filming Maseko’s abduction when he was also arrested.

Maseko is the leader of the Swaziland National Union of Students and has been outspoken against Africa’s last absolute monarchy and Eswatini King Mswati III.

Amnesty International’s Director for East and Southern Africa Deprose Muchena condemned Maseko’s arbitrary detention.

“The charges of sedition and malicious damage to property against Maseko — amounts to intimidation and harassment of those peacefully exercising their human rights by challenging the monarchy’s power,” said Muchuma.

Nkwanyane who was recording Maseko’s abduction was later released.

“Colani Maseko must be immediately and unconditionally released and all these politically motivated charges against him must be withdrawn. Otherwise, he must be promptly brought to court and guaranteed a fair trial,” said Muchuma.

Amnesty International said Eswatini authorities must urgently end their crackdown on political activists and human rights defenders.

“The views of these activists should be welcomed in the arena of public debate, not repressed. Authorities must allow people to freely exercise their human rights without any reprisals.”

Maesko’s arrest sparked a new wave of protests at the University of Eswatini’s Kwaluseni Main Campus and the Southern Africa Nazarene University-Main Campus in Manzini.

Since May 2021, Eswatini has been rocked by pro-democracy protests following the mysterious death of 25-year-old law student Thabani Nkomonye, allegedly at the hands of the police.

Protesters are demanding political reforms and the protection of the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, and association.

Political activism has been suppressed for years in the Kingdom of Eswatini, the last absolute monarchy on the African continent.

The authorities have used repressive laws, including the 1938 Sedition and Subversive Activities Act (SSA Act) and the 2008 Suppression of Terrorism Act (STA), to silence critics.

Compiled by Narissa Subramoney

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Eswatini (Swaziland)

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