UNWGAD calls for release of Thulani Maseko
The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) has condemned the detention of prominent human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko as arbitrary and calls on the Government of Swaziland to ensure his immediate release. The UNWGAD affirmed that Thulani Maseko’s rights to freedom of expression, liberty and to a fair trial have been violated.
On 17 July Thulani Maseko and journalist Bheki Makhubu were convicted of ‘contempt of court’ by the High Court of Swaziland. Shortly afterwards they were both sentenced to two years in prison. The normal punishment for ‘contempt of court’ is a 30-day prison sentence or a 2.200,- Euro fine.
The conviction seems to be related to their critical statements in several journal articles in response to the arrest of an officer. The officer had arrested the driver of a High Court judge for a traffic violation. In the articles, Maseki and Makhubu questioned the integrity, impartiality and independence of the Swaziland judiciary.
The petition to the UNWGAD was submitted by the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) and the law firm Hogan Lovells US LLPS, supported by the American Bar Association Center for Human Rights.
Lawyers for Lawyers calls on the Government of Swaziland to execute the opinion of the UNWGAD and immediately release Thulani Maseko.
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