Thulani Maseko and Bheki Makhubu charged with criminal contempt of court in Swaziland for writing and publishing articles criticizing the judiciary

The Center for Human Rights & Humanitarian Law at American University Washington College of Law, along with many other human rights institutions and governments, is gravely concerned regarding the serious violations of the human rights to freedom of expression, right to a free and impartial trial, freedom from arbitrary detention in the case of Thulani Maseko and Bheki Makhubu in Swaziland, which holds the honor of being the last autocratically-ruled kingdom in sub-saharan africa under King Ngwenyama Mswati III.

Thulani Maseko is a Swazi human rights lawyer and graduate of American University Washington College of Law. Bheki Makhubu is a prominent journalist and the editor of the Nation magazine.  These two men were arrested, detained, convicted of contempt of court, and sentenced to two years in prison, for exercising their fundamental human rights to freedom of expression in writing and publishing articles criticizing the judiciary in Swaziland. 

The trial of Mr. Maseko and Mr. Makhubu violated their human rights to a free and fair trial by an impartial judiciary. Moreover, the imprisonment of Mr. Maseko and Mr. Makhubu is a violation of their rights to liberty and freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention. A full case summary is available here on our website. Below is a compilation of statements made on behalf of Mr. Maseko and Mr. Makhubu from across the globe, as well as news articles and other resources.

The Center for Human Rights & Humanitarian Law at American University Washington College of Law called for the immediate acquital and release of Mr. Maseko and Mr. Makhubu in this statement.

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King of Swaziland, Head of State and Chief of Arm forces, MSWATI III, Royal Palace, Mbabane, Swaziland
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Statements, News Articles and Other Resources Regarding this Case

Current status of the trial: On July 25, 2014, Thulani Maseko and Bheki Makhubu were sentenced to two years of prison following their conviction of contempt of court.

Full case summary, including links to some of the articles written and published by Mr. Maseko and Mr. Makhubu at issue in the case, are available here (last updated July 20, 2014). The closing statement that Mr. Thulani Maseko read during trial on June 5, 2014, is available here. The charge sheet is available here. An interim judgment (not the final judgment) in the case is available here.

Statements Made on Behalf of the Accused

Statement by World Organization Against Torture (July 25, 2014)

Statement by the R.F.K. Center for Justice & Human Rights (July 25, 2014)

Statement by Amnesty International (July 25, 2014)

Statement by American University Washington College of Law (June 9, 2014)

Joint statement made by U.N. Special Rapporteurs (June 12, 2014)

Statement by centers for human rights across the globe (June 9, 2014)

Press statement by the U.S. State Department (June 6, 2014)

Statement by the Centre for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria (June 6, 2014)

Petition to King Mswati III sent by various human rights organizations (June 5, 2014)

Press release by the U.S. Embassy in Swaziland (April 10, 2014)

Support Letter by American Bar Association President James Silkenat (April 10, 2014)

Joint Statement by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights Special Rapporteurs on Freedom of Expression and Human Rights Defenders in Africa (March 28, 2014)

Statement by Freedom House (March 19, 2014)

News Articles about the Case

Critical Swazi editor, lawyer jailed (July 25, 2014)

2 critics of swaziland government convicted (July 17, 2014)

105 days in jail for Bheki, Thulani (June 24, 2014)

Swaziland Braces Itself for AGOA Exit (June 17, 2014)

Thulani Maseko Takes Swipe at Judiciary, Times of Swaziland (June 5, 2014)

South Africa: Human Rights Lawyer Thulani Maseko Is Taking the Stand in Defense of Human Rights (June 4, 2014)

Swaziland: Arrest, Release, Repeat - An Interactive Timeline of Bheki Makhubu and Thulani Maseko's Case in Swaziland (April 22, 2014)

Swaziland Policy Arrests Editor Bheki Makhubu and Lawyer Thulani Maseko (April 10, 2014)

More International Groups Support Makhubu-Maseko, Times of Swaziland (March 25, 2014)

Click here for the search results on all recent articles related to the case.

Other Resources

U.S. Presidential Proclamation Removing Swaziland as a Beneficiary under AGOA (June 26, 2014)

Committee to Protect Journalists Storify Compilation of Resources on the Case (last updated in late April 2014)

Timeline of the Case by Southern African Litigation Centre (last updated in mid-April 2014)