The following is a speech made at the ceremony to present Mario Masuku, president of the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) with a Democracy Award, in Denmark, earlier this month (March 2010).
It was made by Lars Normann Jørgensen, general secretary of Amnesty International in Denmark.
Amnesty International has for many years criticized the widespread persecution of opposition in Swaziland, and has within the past year, been particularly concerned about the consequences of the terrorism legislation, the government introduced in 2008. It is the organization's view that certain provisions of the legislation are clearly contrary to the human rights.
Amongst other things the act has caused random arrests of some Swazi people, mistreatment of detainees, and taken legal actions without a sufficient evidence base.
Mario Masuku was charged after one of these provisions, and his party PUDEMO was one of the four organizations that were declared illegal after the terrorism legislation.
In September last year, Mario Masuku was completely acquitted because the court did not found enough evidence from the prosecution's allegations. Amnesty International congratulates Mario Masuku on the acquittal, and hope that it could pave the way so there in the future will be less arbitrary arrests based on bad unsubstantiated accusations.
Simultaneously, the organization will continue to put pressure on the Swazi Government to remove those provisions that undermine legal security for political activists, journalists and the citizens of Swaziland. Amnesty International hopes that the prize given by Swaziland Democracy Watch will help to promote that development.
Lars Normann Jørgensen, general secretary in Amnesty Denmark