Violent Swazi prison guards condemned

Global rights group Amnesty International has denounced the use of excessive force by Swaziland’s correctional services officers against journalists and political activists after a demonstration at one of the main country’s prisons turned violent.
The attack on 21 September by prison security guards at Matsapha Central Prison, a maximum security facility 25km east of the capital, Mbabane, occurred shortly after Mario Masuku, head of the banned opposition People’s United Democratic Movement, was acquitted of terrorism charges.
“The security officers reacted aggressively to the presence at the prison gate of some 50 noisy but peaceful, unarmed supporters awaiting Mario Masuku’s release from the prison … Without any official warning to disperse, security officers charged into the group at the gate,” said a statement by Amnesty.

A number of leading political activists were allegedly assaulted, and the officers “demanded that the journalists stop filming and photographing – the actions were violations of the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and information,” the statement noted.

The international rights group has urged the government of Swaziland to institute a judicially led public inquiry into the attack.

Pic: Behind bars