Eswatini: Experts condemn killing of human rights defender Thulani Maseko, demand accountability – African Business
UN and African Union experts* today condemned the killing of human rights defender and lawyer Thulani Maseko in Eswatini as “abhorrent” and demanded an impartial investigation into his death.
“This is a tragedy. Thulani was a champion for justice and human right. His killing is a great loss and a massive blow to the human rights movement in Eswatini and beyond,” the experts said, echoing a statement condemning his killing by the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk.
Maseko was a member Lawyers for Human Rights Swaziland as well as Chairperson of Multi-Stakeholder Forum. The coalition calling for constitutional change in Eswatini was led by Maseko. Unknown assailants shot Maseko at his home on the 21st of January 2023. His assassination occurred on the same day the King of Eswatini made a veiled threat against members of the country’s pro-democracy movement.
“Thulani’s tireless efforts for the protection of human rights, democracy and justice have left an indelible mark on the pro-democracy movement in Eswatini,” the experts said, “The tragic killing of such a prominent human rights defender and lawyer is an abhorrent act, which must be immediately and impartially investigated.”
“Defending human rights is not a crime. Under no circumstances should activists or human rights defenders, working for a better, just world, be subject to intimidations, threats, violence, reprisals or killings”, the experts said.
Experts expressed grave concern that Thulani might have been targeted in retaliation to his work as a human right lawyer and advocate for democracy. They urged the State to guarantee an effective, impartial and independent investigation into the killing and reiterated the High Commissioner’s call for authorities to ensure the safety of all human rights defenders, civil society actors and lawyers in Eswatini.
“We express our most sincere condolences and solidarity with Thulani’s family, friends and colleagues and underline our determination to follow-up on the case to ensure justice and accountability,” the experts said.
*The experts: Ms. Mary Lawlor, Special Rapporteur on The Situation of human rights defenders; Mr. Morris Tidball – Binz, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; Ms. Margaret Satterthwaite, Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers; and Mr. Clément Nyaletsossi Voule, Special Rapporteur on freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Hon. Rémy Ngoy Lumbu, Special Rapporteur of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Human Rights Defenders and Focal Point on Reprisals.
Distributed by APO Group for Office of the UN High Commissar for Human Rights (OHCHR).
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