Dozens of prisoners of conscience were briefly detained. There were numerous allegations of torture in police custody. Police used excessive force against striking trade unionists. Five people remained under sentence of death. All party political activity continued to be banned. In the face of increasing unrest, the government, led by Prime Minister Prince Mbilini, further restricted the rights to peaceful assembly and expression. Several legislative changes restricted basic rights. In June an amendment to the 1993 Non-Bailable Offences Act (NBOA) (see Amnesty International Report 1994) obliged courts to deny bail to any person charged with offences listed in the Act, without police having to present evidence of the accused's involvement. One of these listed offences is "breach of the public order", which could result in the detention of government opponents for holding meetings. The Act was used during 1994 to deny bail to suspects charged with political offences. A proposed amendment to the Sedition and Subversive Activities Act, which included penalties of up to 10 years' imprisonment for publishing "seditious" material, was withdrawn after widespread opposition. The amendment would have effectively prevented newspapers from reporting critically on any branch of government. The government-appointed Judicial Services Commission (JSC) formed in 1993 (see Amnesty International Report 1994) continued to compromise the impartiality of the judiciary. Four magistrates faced charges instigated by the JSC. For example, magistrate Sipho Dlamini was arrested and charged with defeating the ends of justice after he cautioned a suspect who alleged that he had agreed to confess to a crime because of torture by police officers. The magistrate told the suspect that confessions must be freely given and would be used against him, and the suspect withdrew the confession. Sipho Dlamini was subsequently acquitted by the High Court but immediately dismissed from his post by the JSC. Dozens of opposition supporters were briefly detained during 1994. For example, in April seven supporters of the People's United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) were arrested at a peaceful demonstration marking the 1973 suspension of Swaziland's Constitution. They were charged under the King's Proclamation No. 12 of 1973, which bans political activity. They were held incommunicado in harsh conditions for two days before being released on bail. The charges were dropped in June. In October, seven PUDEMO supporters were arrested at a demonstration calling for democratic reform. They were charged under the Sedition Act because they carried placards calling on the government to resign. They were also charged with a breach of the public order and were initially denied bail under the NBOA. In November they were acquitted of the sedition charge, but found guilty of participating in a demonstration without police permission. All seven were sentenced to seven days' imprisonment and released because of their time in pre-trial detention. However, two – Mphandlana Shongwe and Andreas Lukhele – were rearrested because they already had suspended sentences. At the end of 1994 they were free on bail pending the Appeal Court's decision on their appeal against their convictions. There were numerous allegations of torture in police custody. In May a defendant told a court that he confessed to murder after being beaten and suffocated by police officers. Also in May a magistrate stated in court that police routinely treated suspects "so brutally" that he could not allow them to be remanded in police custody overnight. In August a defendant alleged that when he was arrested he was handcuffed and put in a car boot, and then assaulted at a police station for three days before being charged. In July police officers used tear-gas and batons to disperse striking workers and reportedly assaulted Paul Dlamini, Secretary General of the Swaziland Manufacturing and Allied Workers' Union. Days later police officers shot and seriously wounded a striking worker, then briefly detained Jan Sithole, Secretary General of the Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions. No new death sentences were imposed by the courts and two death sentences were overturned on appeal. Five people remained under sentence of death awaiting the outcome of appeals. Amnesty International expressed concern about the imprisonment of PUDEMO supporters and others for exercising their rights to freedom of assembly and expression and about their prison and bail conditions. Amnesty International wrote to the government about the continuing existence of laws which provide for the imprisonment of peaceful demonstrators and those expressing their peaceful political views. Amnesty International was also concerned about the numerous allegations of torture in police custody.

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