The gruesome assassination of Thulani Maseko, a highly decorated human rights lawyer, on Saturday, January 21, 2023, marked a dastardly low in the attacks meted to human and democracy rights in Swaziland, say Oilwatch Africa and other civil society organisations in Africa and beyond, who condemn the murder of the renowned activist in his own home.
They demand that the state assumes its responsibility of arresting the perpetrators and protecting citizens.
Thulani Maseko was well-known as a campaigner committed to the respect of human rights and the use of dialogue as the key tool for the resolution of political disputes and conflicts, stress the groups, adding that the brutal murder raises serious concerns about the heightened threat to human and environmental rights defenders and the overall rule of law in Swaziland.
They insist that the assassination of Maseko marks an ugly turn in the attempts to cripple dissent and eliminate the defenders of the masses on the African continent, adding that human right defenders have been the target of executions, torture, beatings, arbitrary arrest and detention, death threats, and arassment as well as restrictions on their freedom of movement in Swaziland and elsewhere in Africa.
During one of Maseko’s life challenges, he was arrested allegedly for contempt of court charges for having questioned the way the then Chief Justice was conducting the affairs of the Judiciary. He was sentenced to two years without an option of a fine.
“Sadly, he had to endure that imprisonment and completed the sentence before the Supreme Court accepted that his arrest and sentence were unlawful in the first place and an infringement on his right to freedom of expression.
“As a family, African human and environmental rights campaigners share in the grief of Maseko’s death. We call on the international community, including the United Nations, African Union, Southern African Development Community, and individual governments, to demand that the government of Swaziland respect human rights.
“African governments must ensure they create an environment where human rights of all citizens are respected, and activists are not targeted for standing up to injustice. No more bloodshed!” submitted the groups.