United Nations Human rights chief Volker Türk on Monday condemned the “brutal murder” of a leading democracy activist in the South African country of Eswatini, one of the world’s few absolute monarchies.
Human rights lawyer Thulani Maseka was shot dead in his home on Saturday, Türk said in a statement.
He urged the Eswatini authorities to ensure independence and efficiency murder investigation.
Maseka was a leading figure in Eswatini’s drive to move to a multi-party democracy. He was jailed in 2014 for allegedly criticizing the judiciary’s lack of independence, the UN said. He was acquitted on appeal and released a year later.
Eswatini was formerly known as Swaziland and is a country of just over 1 million people that borders South Africa and Mozambique. It is the last remaining absolute monarchy in Africa, ruled by King Mswati III since 1986.
The country was engulfed democratic protests two years ago, when there were reports of state violence against protesters and King Mswati III was accused of suppressing any opposition.
Amnesty International said it believed Maseka was killed because of his work as a human rights lawyer and called for proper investigation. Masek was reportedly shot twice through the window of his home, according to Amnesty.
At the time of his death, Maseka was working as a lawyer for two people on trial for crimes allegedly committed during the 2021 riots, the UN said.