The European Parliament has voted for the release of all political prisoners in Swaziland.
It also called for the kingdom, ruled by King Mswati III as an absolute monarch, to be monitored for its human rights record.
Members of the European Parliament (MEP) meeting in plenary session on Thursday (21 May 2015) called for the immediate release of Thulani Maseko and Bheki Makhubu from jail in Swaziland. Maseko, a human-rights lawyer, and Makhubu, editor of the Nation magazine were jailed for two years after writing and publishing articles critical of the Swazi judiciary.
MEPs said ‘their imprisonment relates directly to the legitimate exercise of their right to freedom of expression.
They alo called for the release of all political prisoners, including Mario Masuku, President of the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), and Maxwell Dlamini, Secretary-General of the Swaziland Youth Congress (SWAYOCO).
A statement issued by the European Parliament said, ‘Parliament considers the imprisonment of political activists and the banning of trade unions to be in clear contravention of commitments made by Swaziland under the Cotonou Agreement to respect democracy, the rule of law and human rights, and also under the sustainable development chapter of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Economic Partnership Agreement, for which Parliament’s support will depend on respect for the commitments made.
‘It calls, therefore, on the Commission to honour its obligation to monitor Swaziland’s adherence to human rights and to labour and environmental conventions under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP), and to open an investigation to determine whether there has been a serious and systematic violation of the labour rights protected under the GSP.’
The resolution was passed by 579 votes to six, with 58 abstentions.
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