Eswatini: Freedom of association not guaranteed and discrimination against LGBTIs widespread (UN Statement)

by | Mar 23, 2022 | Advocacy, Non-legal submissions

The ICJ today drew the attention of the UN Human Rights Council to the lack of respect, protection and fulfilment of the freedom of expression, assembly and association and to the widespread discrimination of LGBTI persons during the discussion on the outcome of the UPR of Eswatini.

The statement reads as follows:

“Mr President,

The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) welcomes the acceptance by Eswatini of the recommendation by Chile to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (118.11); by the Democratic Republic of the Congo to finalize the ratification of the Convention against Torture  (118.18); by South Sudan and Spain (118.18) to accelerate the process of ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (118.18), and by Fiji to take the necessary steps to combat discrimination and violence against women and children, and based on sexual orientation and gender identity (118.61).

The ICJ however regrets that Eswatini noted but did not accept the recommendations by Ireland to develop legislation to protect the rights to freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly, including by allowing political parties to register and contest elections (118.99). Despite the clarification by Eswatini that the 1973 decree banning political parties has been revoked by the 2005 Constitution (109), and numerous public protests in the Kingdom since mid-2021 calling for democratic reforms and the right to political participation, Eswatini does not permit political parties to contest elections. The governing monarch has refused dialogue with pro-democracy advocates and suppressed the right to peaceful protest.

The ICJ further regrets the non-acceptance by Eswatini of the recommendations to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and to decriminalize same-sex sexual conduct between consenting adults as formulated by Denmark (118.60), Brazil (118.62) Italy (118.65) Luxembourg (118.66) Mexico (118.67) Canada (118.68) Spain (118.70) United Kingdom (118.74) Costa Rica (118.75). The ICJ recalls that, in Eswatini, LGBTI persons are subjected to widespread discrimination without State protection and a local LGBTI organization has been refused registration by state authorities.

Thank you.”


Massimo Frigo, ICJ UN Representative, e: massimo.frigo(a), t: +41797499949

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