The following information reports U.S. Government priorities and activities of the U.S. mission in Swaziland to promote democracy and human rights. For background on Swaziland's human rights conditions, please see the 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices and the International Religious Freedom Reports at 2009-2017.state.gov.
Part 1: U.S. Government Democracy Objectives
The U.S. strategy for advancing democracy in Swaziland is three-fold: strengthen key government institutions to create and uphold democratic values; strengthen and support civil society, media, and other institutions that hold the government accountable; and assist in developing a platform for civil society and the government to negotiate political space. To achieve these goals, the United States continues to encourage the government to implement concrete measures of democratic progress, such as the full legalization of political parties, consistent enforcement of the constitution, and other reforms that foster a more responsive, inclusive, and democratic government. Anticorruption efforts, legal reform pertaining to freedom of information, and increased promotion and protection of human rights, including a functioning and capable human rights commission, also are important if Swaziland is to start transitioning toward democracy.
Part 2: Supporting Top Priorities and Other Aspects of Human Rights and Democratic Governance
The United States uses a variety of means, including support for public dialogue and civil society and government capacity building, to promote political reform. For example, the U.S. Government utilized public diplomacy and representational events to bring together local NGOs, labor union leaders, and political activists for dialogue. To prepare for the 2013 national elections, U.S.-sponsored programs continued working with government and civil society to strengthen institutions, educate the citizenry, and expand political dialogue. U.S. funding supported a local NGO to carry out civic education activities to inform citizens on their constitutional rights, and a U.S. foundation facilitated dialogue between advocates of reform and government officials. The United States provided financial assistance for a youth conference, including young men and women from all regions of the country, to discuss human rights, the constitution, HIV/AIDS, and personal discipline. The United States hosted multiple digital video conferences and panel discussions on the Obama Administration, the peaceful transition of power, empowerment of women, and consensus building in a multi-party democracy. The United States continued to sponsor training and international exchanges for emerging civil society and political leaders and members of the security forces that promote human rights, democracy, separation of powers, and the contributions of civil society.
During diplomatic and programmatic outreach activities, U.S. officials advocated for measures to combat corruption and increase transparency. The United States provided information to the new Anti-Corruption Commission on issues such as conflict of interest legislation and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and participated with the United Nations Development Program and other multi-lateral organizations on a planning committee to coordinate assistance to the Commission. The United States continues to encourage respect for freedom of information. In one program, a speaker conducted workshops on independent media and how to discuss sensitive political topics in an environment of censorship.
In support of the rights of children, the United States paid the school fees for orphaned and vulnerable children and for children at risk for exploitative labor, as well as provided life skills training for at-risk youth. The U.S. government continued to provide consultation and small grants in support of the implementation of recently enacted legislation on antitrafficking. Embassy Mbabane's Regional Security Office worked with the Royal Swazi Police Headquarters on developing a use-of-force policy and using non-lethal means of stopping criminals, seeking to reduce extrajudicial killings by security officers. In addition, the United States funded workplace-based HIV/AIDS education and antidiscrimination programs.