More than 60 people were briefly detained on account of their peaceful political activities and subsequently received suspended prison sentences. Most were ill-treated in custody. Army personnel and officially condoned paramilitary groups were implicated in ill-treatment and torture of detainees. A law allowing 60 days' administrative detention was repealed. Four death sentences were imposed and three others were commuted; no executions were reported. National elections were held in October amid debate over the tinkhundla system of indirectly elected parliament. All party political activity remained prohibited under the King's Proclamation No. 12 of 1973 and the banned Peoples' United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) called for a boycott of the elections. King Mswati III appointed Prince Mbilini Dlamini as Prime Minister in November. Pro-democracy activists advocating the legalization of political parties experienced renewed repression by police and vigilante groups loyal to the monarchy. The Minister of Justice told the UN World Conference on Human Rights in June that no human right should be denied because the full enjoyment of other rights had not been achieved. However, following his return to Swaziland, the Ministry of Justice issued a statement in which it said that in developing countries, respect for human rights depends on the availability of economic and financial resources. In August magistrates went on strike to oppose the government's appointment of a Special Committee to evaluate the work of magistrates and other judicial officers and to dismiss those found not to be performing their duties satisfactorily. Magistrates and lawyers objected to the establishment of the Special Committee on the grounds that it threatened the independence of the judiciary. Court proceedings were disrupted by the strike, which concluded with striking magistrates being heavily fined. In September the King's Order-in-Council No. 1 of 1978, known as the 60-day detention law, was repealed. This order had allowed administrative detention without charge or trial for renewable 60-day periods of anyone deemed an opponent of the government. Also in September the Non-Bailable Offences Order of 1993 was issued. This denies bail to those held on a wide range of criminal charges, including contravention of Section 6 of the Public Order Act of 1963, a charge which could be misused to detain non-violent political activists. Scores of government critics were arrested and charged with political offences during the year. For example, in March, 62 PUDEMO supporters were arrested in Nkhaba after attempting to meet to discuss the elections. They were confronted by an impi (paramilitary group) led by former Prime Minister Prince Bhekimpi Dlamini, as well as armed, uniformed government soldiers and plainclothes police. Impi members assaulted several PUDEMO supporters in full view of the police, but no charges were brought against those responsible despite formal complaints to the police by several of those assaulted. Fifty-six detainees, both men and women, were kept together overnight in the back of a police truck, without food, water or toilet facilities. All were charged under the 1973 Proclamation and released the following day on bail conditions that included a prohibition on further breaches of the 1973 Proclamation. Three members of this group were subsequently convicted of contempt of court after being arrested for further political activities. In August all 62 were convicted and sentenced to three-month suspended jail terms. Four political activists, including former prisoner of conscience Dumisane Khosa, were arrested and charged under a new electoral law with "interfering with the elections", because they had distributed political leaflets. The cases against the four were dropped from the court register, but the charges remained and the four could still be prosecuted if their cases were rescheduled. There were reports of soldiers assaulting and torturing a number of criminal suspects. In a separate case, PUDEMO regional secretary Professor Dlamini was seized by government soldiers loyal to Prince Bhekimpi in July, following repeated incidents of harassment by the police. During his interrogation, he was allegedly repeatedly threatened with being shot, and soldiers threatened to kill members of his family if he did not cooperate. He was released some 30 hours later but warned to leave the country or he would be killed. Both Professor Dlamini and PUDEMO laid charges of assault and abduction, but no official action was known to have been taken against the soldiers responsible. Four death sentences were passed by the courts. In September the King commuted three death sentences which had already been confirmed on appeal. Seven people remained under sentence of death awaiting the outcome of appeals. Amnesty International called for the withdrawal of charges against those peaceful political activists who could become prisoners of conscience if convicted, and for the amendment of laws affecting freedom of expression to bring them fully into conformity with international human rights standards. Amnesty International also urged the authorities to investigate all allegations of beatings and other ill-treatment of prisoners by the security forces or others acting with their acquiescence, and to bring to justice those found responsible for violating human rights. Amnesty International urged Swaziland to become a party to the African Charter on Peoples' and Human Rights and other relevant international instruments.

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