MISA-Swaziland | Alert
June 25 2014
When the respected editor of The Nation magazine Bheki Makhubu and prominent human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko appear in court next Tuesday they will have spent over 100 days in Sidwashini jail, just north of Swaziland’s capital Mbabane.
They are both facing criminal contempt of court charges after writing opinion pieces in which they question the chief justice’s actions over the arrest of a government vehicle inspector.
Makhubu and Maseko deny the charges, saying they were expressing opinions in the public interest while calling for the rule of law to be upheld.
The Crown contends that the opinion pieces were unfair to Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi and brought the judicial system into disrepute.
Local and international support continues to grow for the two men, who Amnesty International has called “prisoners of conscience”.
According to today’s Swazi Observer, the director of public prosecutions – who is bringing the case on behalf of the Crown – says that the constitutional right to freedom of expression is inferior to court supremacy.
Yesterday in court the United States and the European Union were both represented by their respective ambassadors, who were there to show solidarity with the detained writers.
The case continues next Tuesday 1 July at Swaziland’s high court, when the court will hear submissions from the lawyers representing both sides.