Toggle high contrast

Research into human and trade union rights violations in eSwatini  

TUC Aid project
Report type
Research and reports
Issue date
Project summary

Research into human and trade union rights violations in eSwatini  (formerly Swaziland)


Project budget: £4,122

In July 2021 TUC compled a research-based project developed in collaboration with the national trade union centre TUCOSWA, ITUC-Africa and the ITUC. The purpose of the research is to inform members of the Commonwealth about eSwatini’s failure to promote democratic reforms and protect human and trade union rights. 

Project activities

The research used a combination of desktop and qualitative research methods. It draws on a range of existing, credible research and reports to examine if core values and principles in the Commonwealth Charter have been violated in eSwatini. These core principles and values from the Charter include:

  • Democracy
  • Human rights
  • Tolerance, respect and understanding
  • Freedom of Expression
  • Separation of Powers
  • Rule of Law
  • Good Governance
  • Sustainable development
  • Gender Equality
  • The Role of Civil Society

The qualitative element of the research includes interviews with leading trade unionists and human rights defenders in eSwatini who are involved in the struggle for democracy. 

Project Outcomes

The project resulted in a report, Holding eSwatini to Account: Assessing the Country’s Compliance with the Commonwealth Charter. The report is being used for advocacy at national and international levels in collaboration with sister centres including  in eSwatini and with the ITUC.

The key recommendations of the report are that the government of eSwatini should:

  • Undertake a constitutional review in an all-inclusive and consultative process including civil society actors and political parties and establish a Law Reform Commission to embark on a law reform exercise.
  • Expressly repeal the 1973 Decree and amend the constitution to allow political parties to contest national elections.
  • Remove all legislative and practical restrictions on political parties to contest democratic multiparty elections and enact legislation to allow for the recognition, registration and operation of political parties.
  • Enact enabling legislation for the establishment of an independent and impartial Commission of Human Rights to undertake activities in the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions in accordance with the Paris Principles.
  • Adopt measures to ensure the independence of the judiciary, including by ensuring the appointment of impartial judges, as well as prosecuting and punishing those responsible for acts undermining the independence or impartiality of judicial proceedings.
  • Align laws on the freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly and association with the Constitution and remove all legislative and practical restrictions to ensure the protection and respect of these rights.
  • Initiate a process of amending the Suppression of Terrorism Act in line with the declaration by the High Court that certain sections were unconstitutional.
  • Guarantee and respect the right to freedom of association and the right to organise, in particular simplifying union recognition across all sectors of the economy.
  • End police brutality against workers participating in peaceful and legal protest actions.
  • Give trade unions freedom to choose officials to represent them in negotiations without employers’ interference.
  • Guarantee trade union officials’ freedom of association and expression, without fear of victimisation by the employer.

Should these issues not be resolved, the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) should suspend eSwatini from membership of the Commonwealth.

Other TUC Aid projects

Enable Two-Factor Authentication

To access the admin area, you will need to setup two-factor authentication (TFA).

Setup now