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UN rights chief condemns ‘cold-blooded killing’ of Eswatini human rights lawyer

Eswatini's capital city, Mbabane.
© Unsplash/S'mile Vilakati
Eswatini's capital city, Mbabane.

UN rights chief condemns ‘cold-blooded killing’ of Eswatini human rights lawyer

Human Rights

Authorities in Eswatini must launch a probe into the killing of a prominent human rights lawyer gunned down this past weekend, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk said on Monday. 

Thulani Maseko, who was also a pro-democracy activist, was shot dead in his home in the city of Mbabane on Saturday. 

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Mr. Türk issued a statement condemning his murder. 

‘Stalwart of human rights’ 

“Thulani Maseko was a stalwart of human rights who, at great risk to himself, spoke up for many who couldn’t speak up for themselves,” he said. 

“His cold-blooded killing has deprived Eswatini, Southern Africa and the world of a true champion and advocate for peace, democracy and human rights.” 

The UN rights chief extended his condolences to Mr. Maseko’s family, friends, and colleagues. 

“I call on the authorities in the Kingdom of Eswatini to ensure a prompt, independent, impartial and effective investigation is held into his killing, in accordance with Eswatini’s constitution and international human rights law, and to hold all those responsible to account in fair trials,” he said. 

Advocate for transition 

Mr. Maseko was the chairperson of the Multi-Stakeholder Forum, an umbrella association of civil society organizations, business and trade unions, political parties, as well as faith-based and women's organizations. 

The group advocates for a peaceful transition to multi-party democracy in Eswatini, formerly known as Swaziland. 

At the time of his death, Mr. Maseko was a legal representative for two members of parliament facing trial for offences allegedly committed during civil unrest that occurred in 2021. 

In 2015, he was acquitted on appeal and released from a year in detention for allegedly criticizing the judicial system.