Global perspective Human stories

Swaziland's judicial system requires urgent reforms, UN rights expert says

Swaziland's judicial system requires urgent reforms, UN rights expert says

Following weekend protests by leading jurists in Swaziland who refused to appear before any judges recently appointed by the Government, the top United Nations expert on judicial independence called on authorities in Mbabane to take immediate steps to shore up the country's crumbling judicial system.

Expressing dismay at the continued deterioration of the rule of law in Swaziland, Dato' Param Cumaraswamy, Special Rapporteur of the UN Commission on Human Rights on the independence of judges and lawyers, cited such recent developments as the protest resignation of the High Court's Chief Justice, and the impending possible deportation of two senior members of the Law Society of Swaziland as evidence that the country's judicial system may be near the "breaking point."

"The justice system cannot function in this environment of mistrust," Mr. Cumaraswamy said, urging the Government to take immediate steps to avert an impending crisis. He recalled the International Bar Association's recent report on the country, which urged the Government to establish a national plan of action to address serious flaws in the justice system and to implement urgently needed reforms, including a new draft constitution.

"Swaziland needs today, more than ever, a separation of powers between its executive and judicial branches of government in order to function as a fully democratic nation," he added.