UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk today condemned the brutal killing of leading Eswatini human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko, who was shot dead in his home on 21 January.
“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. I offer my sincere condolences to his family, friends, and colleagues. His cold-blooded killing has deprived Eswatini, Southern Africa and the world of a true champion and advocate for peace, democracy and human rights,” said Türk.
“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.”
“The Eswatini authorities must also ensure the safety and security of all Eswatini people, including human rights defenders, journalists and political activists, and to protect civic space.”
Maseko was the chairperson of the Multi-Stakeholder Forum, an umbrella association of civil society organisations, business and trade unions, political parties, faith-based organisations and women’s organisations that advocates for a peaceful transition to multi-party democracy in Eswatini.
At the time of his death, Maseko was a legal representative for two members of parliament facing trial for offences allegedly committed during the civil unrest that rocked Eswatini in 2021.
In 2015, he was acquitted on appeal and released from a year in detention for allegedly criticizing the judicial system.