Cape Town - Authorities in eSwatini must drop all trumped-up charges against members of parliament Mduduzi Bacede Mabuza and Mthandeni Dube and release them immediately, human rights organisation Amnesty International has said.
According to local media, the two were detained amid a wave of pro-democracy protests and charged under the Suppression of Terrorism Act and for contravening Covid-19 regulations.
“The arrest and detention of MPs Mabuza and Dube is a travesty of justice. They have been held for peacefully exercising their freedom of expression and assembly,” Amnesty International’s director for East and Southern Africa Deprose Muchena said in a statement on Wednesday.
Amnesty says the two MPs have been detained at a police station in the capital Mbabane since July 25, about a month after pro-democracy protests began in Africa’s last absolute monarchy.
Since May, over 80 people have been killed by security forces and many others arrested on suspicion of involvement in protests calling for political reforms in eSwatini, the rights group says.
In another day of demonstrations, protesters suffered serious injuries when the police fired tear gas inside a bus that was transporting them to a march in Mbabane on Wednesday.
In a recent speech, King Mswati III said he was not prepared to negotiate with “dagga smokers” and drunkards, referring to pro-democracy protesters.
Authorities have deployed security forces to crush dissent, closed schools indefinitely and instructed mobile telephone network companies to shut down the internet and social media platforms.
– African News Agency (ANA), Editing by Stella Mapenzauswa