Last Updated 10 November 2016

The Kingdom of Swaziland is surrounded – with the exception of Mozambique to its east – by South Africa. Around 83% Christian with a significant 15% said to practice traditional African religions.

Severe Discrimination
Systemic Discrimination
Mostly Satisfactory

Constitution and government

The constitution and other laws and policies protect freedom of religion or belief, freedom of expression, and freedom of assembly and association. However, under the absolute monarchy of King Mswati III, these rights are frequently violated in practice. The constitution states that individuals have a right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion. Traditional laws and customs, interpreted by traditional courts and approximately 360 chiefs, provide less protection to minority religious groups. Chiefs may direct community pressure against a religious group if the chiefs determine that the group’s practices conflict with tradition and culture.

Education and children’s rights

Religious instruction is mandatory in primary school and an elective subject in secondary schools. Although schools teach religion predominantly from a Christian perspective, the education ministry includes a multi-religion component in the religious curriculum. The only organized religious youth clubs reportedly permitted to operate in schools are Christian. Voluntary school clubs conduct daily prayer services in many public schools.

Freedom of expression, advocacy of humanist values

Constitutional rights to free expression are severely restricted in practice and can be suspended by the king. Publishing criticism of the ruling family is banned. Self-censorship is widespread, as journalists are routinely threatened and attacked by the authorities.

The government restricts freedoms of assembly and association, and permission to hold political gatherings is frequently denied. Demonstrators routinely face violence and arrests by police.

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