MISA-Swaziland monitors the media and documents several types of ‘media alerts‘.

A media alert can come in the form of a simple ‘alert‘, where the principle of media freedom has been violated and MISA-Swaziland feels compelled to write a short ‘alert’ to record and publicise the violation. A recent example of an alert is when a local editor was ordered by a high court judge to pay E200,000 ($US21,000) within three days or else go to jail for two years. The editor had written two articles about Swaziland’s judiciary which, in MISA-Swaziland’s view, constituted legitimate comment and analysis, particularly considering Swaziland guarantees freedom of speech and media freedom under Section 24  of its constitution. In this case, however, the court found the editor guilty of ‘scandalising the courts’. MISA-Swaziland’s advocacy on this case, based on our alerts, helped to generate a significant amount of local and international support.

Another type of media alert is a ‘statement‘, where MISA-Swaziland — usually basing its opinion on a recent media alert — will issue a statement outlining our position on a certain matter. For instance, when the local newspaperThe Times of Swaziland wrote an editorial arguing for the liberalisation of the country’s airwaves, MISA-Swaziland wrote a statement in support of that newspapers postion.

MISA-Swaziland will write analytical articles from time to time, exploring a topic in more detail. An analysis could be viewed as part ‘alert’ and part ‘statement’. An example of a MISA-Swaziland analysis is an article about the difficult conditions currently faced by Swazi journalism students.

Click here to see MISA-Swaziland media alerts, where you will find Alerts, Statements, and Analyses

“The free press is the mother of all our liberties and of our progress under liberty.”
— Adlai Stevenson

The Swazi media operate in an environment where many civil and political rights are curtailed. Swaziland is an absolute monarchy. Political parties are banned and the King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, exercises ultimate authority over the executive, the legislature and the judiciary. The constitution protects freedom of expression and media freedom, but these rights mean little in practice. Journalists are routinely intimidated and obstructed when accessing information.

Self-censorship in newsrooms is high and public debate about sensitive political issues is rare. Though the government is criticised in the media, criticism of the monarchy is completely off-limits. Interrogation of traditional structures is virtually non-existent. In the 2012 Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index Swaziland ranked 144th out of 179 countries. For a full discussion of media freedom in Swaziland see Richard Rooney’s ‘Swazi Media Commentary’ blog.

MISA’s vision is an environment where media freedom is fully realised: where journalists can perform their critical function without threats and intimidation, where media owners can operate without fear of being shut down or dragged to the courts for offending those in power. MISA wants a pluralist and thriving media environment where diverse voices are routinely heard.

To this aim, MISA documents all media freedom violations and issues alerts within Swaziland and to the international community. See the Media Alerts section of this website. 

Useful Links:

Freedom House

Reporters Without Borders

Committee to Protect Journalists

Human Rights Watch


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