The UN showed up on Tuesday, July 6 “Deeply concerned” in the face of the violent repression of the demonstrations against the monarchy in Eswatini and asks the government of this small country in southern Africa to quickly investigate this matter.
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights calls for “On the government to ensure that prompt, transparent, effective, independent and impartial investigations are carried out into all allegations of human rights violations, including those committed by the police in the context of demonstrations, and that those responsible are held to account ”said spokesperson Liz Throssell in Geneva.
“The eruption of violence in the kingdom of Eswatini in recent days is deeply worrying, as reports indicate dozens of people killed or injured during protests calling for democratic reforms”, she said at a regular press briefing by UN agencies.
In a statement in New York, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called “All stakeholders to refrain from violence and resolve their differences through inclusive dialogue”.
Several dozen dead and injured
“The Secretary General stresses the importance of enabling all Eswatinians to exercise their civil and political rights peacefully and urges the security forces to exercise the utmost restraint”, added its spokesperson, Stéphane Dujarric.
The last absolute monarchy of Africa, this poor and landlocked country of 1.3 million inhabitants, formerly known as Swaziland, has been shaken since the end of May by clashes between police officers and pro-democracy demonstrators, which have left dozens of deaths and injured, according to several sources.
“We have received allegations of disproportionate and unnecessary use of force, harassment and intimidation by security forces during the crackdown on protests last week, including the use of live ammunition by the police, Liz Throssell said. Some demonstrators are said to have looted premises, set fire to buildings and vehicles and, in some areas, barricaded roads. “
Despite a lull, the Office remains concerned “By the risk of new disorders” and reminds the authorities that “Peaceful demonstrations are protected by international human rights law, in particular by article 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which the Kingdom of Eswatini is a party”.
In addition, Liz Throssell points out that “We urge the authorities to take all necessary measures to ensure that Internet access is not blocked”.
The spokeswoman said the unrest began in May when students took to the streets to demand accountability for the death of a 25-year-old law student, allegedly caused by police. These protests then turned into daily pro-democracy marches.
The NGO Amnesty International counted at least 20 people killed by the security forces, 6 missing and at least 150 demonstrators hospitalized with in particular gunshot wounds. The government has so far said it has not received an official report on the deaths.