Eswatini

Another ‘No’ for Eswatini’s LGBTI community

A new judgment from Eswatini’s high court effectively supports a decision by the registrar of companies who refused to register an association called Eswatini Sexual and Gender Minorities. Two judges of the three-court bench held that the registrar’s decision had been properly made. In a dissenting decision, the third judge approached the question very differently.

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This case concerns Eswatini’s LGBTI community. Eagerly anticipated by both sides of the argument, it must have been something of a disappointment to all involved that judgment was delayed for so long.

Right at the start of the decision, however, there’s an apology seeking to explain why the matter, heard 18 months ago, was not handed down earlier.

African Commission finds judicial dismissal by Eswatini violated African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights

Since 2011, Thomas Masuku has been in a kind of judicial limbo following a decision by the authorities in Eswatini to remove him from office as a judge. He was, however, welcomed with open arms in Namibia, where he serves on the high court bench. Now, in an extraordinary development, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights has found that his removal from office by Eswatini violated key articles of the African Charter.

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Any reader of the decision by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the complaint by jurist Thomas Masuku is taken back in time to the era when controversial, disgraced judge, Michael Ramodibedi, was Chief Justice in Eswatini.

Dispute over Facebook post brings major free speech decision by Eswatini high court

The case of an airline accountant who posted a comment on his Facebook page that his employers have interpreted as being critical of the Eswatini government and the system of governance it operates has given the high court the opening to make an unusually strong defence of free expression. In his FB post, made at the time criticism over the government purchase of a number of luxury vehicles was making headlines, the accountant, Godfrey Exalto, included the word, ‘dictatorship’.

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Eswatini is not usually associated with strong support for freedom of expression. Yet here is the high court doing exactly that, and coming to the conclusion that remarks by an employee of the Royal Eswatini National Airways (Renac,) to the effect that the country’s government was a ‘dictatorship’, amounted to a constitutionally protected, legitimate opinion under the constitution and international law.

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