Re: Arrest and maltreatment of Mary Pais da Silva, Maxwell Dlamini, Themba Mabuza, Sifiso Mabuza and Samkeliso (last name unknown)
To: Prime Minister Dlamini
I write on behalf of Lawyers Rights Watch Canada (LRWC) and the 250,000 members of United Food and Commercial Workers Union Canada (UFCW Canada), Canada’s largest private sector union, to denounce the Swaziland authorities’ peremptory arrests of trade unionists at the “April 12 Uprising” rally, preventing the peaceful and democratic assembly of labour and opposition groups to express their basic human rights. We also deplore the bare-knuckle tactics of the Swaziland police during said rally by using water cannons, swinging batons, and roadblocks for crowd dispersal while arbitrarily kidnapping, arresting and detaining activists and trade union officials.
We condemn the unlawful and inhuman treatment of Mary Pais da Silva, lawyer and coordinator of the Swaziland Democracy Campaign who was: a/ seized while giving an interview to a journalist, b/ arrested and detained, and, c/ physically assaulted in the custody of the police. Following her release, da Silva has been threatened with further detention and with torture.
Further to this incident, LRWC and UFCW Canada are deeply concerned by the arrest and incommunicado detention of democracy advicates Maxwell Dlamini of the Swaziland National Union of Students (SNUS), Themba Mabuza of the Swaziland United Democratic Front, Sifiso Mabuza and Samkeliso (last name unknown) who is also from SNUS. Swaziland police authorities continue to refuse proper access to lawyers and family members for these people. Incommunicado detention and denial of the internationally protected right to timely access to legal counsel elevates our concern at the heightened risk of torture and other ill-treatment.
Swaziland has ratified (25 April 2004) the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Punishment or Treatment and therefore has a legal duty of prevent and punish torture against all people under all circumstances. As a member of the United Nations (24 September 1968) Swaziland is also bound by customary international law as reflected in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights , including proscriptions of arbitrary detention and denial of due process.
LRWC and UFCW call on the Government of Swaziland to:
1. Facilitate the immediate and unconditional release of Maxwell Dlamini, Themba Mabuza, Sifiso Mabuza, and Samkeliso; and,
2. Ensure that each of these people have immediate and confidential access to a legal representative of choice; and,
3. Provide family members access to those detained and the opportunity to identify through interviews and observation treatment in violation of international human rights law.