Swaziland has ratified the following documents:
  • African (Banjul) Charter on Human and People's Rights
  • Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhumane, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
  • Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women
  • Convention on the Rights of the Child
  • International Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
  • International Covenant Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
  • International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
The following documents further define the obligations of Swaziland:
    The documents listed above require Swaziland to protect and promote the following rights:

    Right to development
    Right to education
    Right to equal protection of the law
    Right to freedom from inhuman or degrading treatment
    Right to highest attainable standard of physical and mental health
    Right to housing
    Right to just and favorable work conditions
    Right to liberty and security of the person
    Right to life and survival
    Right to marry and found a family
    Right to non-discrimination on grounds of age
    Right to non-discrimination on grounds of disability (i.e. HIV positive)
    Right to non-discrimination on grounds of marital status
    Right to non-discrimination on grounds of race and ethnicity
    Right to non-discrimination on grounds of sex and gender
    Right to non-discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation
    Right to private and family life
    Right to receive and impart information
    Right to the benefits of scientific progress

    Constitutional Protection of Rights

    The Constitution of Swaziland can be viewed at http://www.constitution.org.sz/english/index.html

    A draft Constitution of Swaziland was approved on June 14, 2005, and still awaits final assent before being promulgated. If this draft is approved, it will protect the following rights, among others, which are all conducive to good reproductive health:

    Right to dignity (art. 19(1))
    Right to the equal protection of the laws (art. 15(1)(a), art. 21)
    Right to freedom from torture, inhuman or degrading treatment (art. 19)
    Right to freedom of association (art. 15(1)(b), art. 26)
    Right to freedom of expression (art. 15(1)(b), art. 25)
    Right to freedom of movement (art. 27)
    Right to freely consent to marriage (art. 28(2))
    Right to paid maternity leave (art. 33(3))
    Right to inherit
    Right to liberty and security (art. 15(1)(a), art. 17)
    Right to life (art. 15(1)(a), art. 16)
    Right to marry and found a family (art. 28(1))
    Right to privacy (art. 15(1)(c))
    Right to non discrimination on grounds of disability (art. 21(2))
    Right to non-discrimination on grounds of gender (art. 21(2))
    Right to non-discrimination on grounds of race (art. 21(2))
    Right to own private property (art. 20)
    Right to seek and obtain redress for violations of rights (art. 15(2), art. 36))
    Right to work (art. 33(1))

    The Constitution includes other provisions that promote and protect rights relevant for good sexual and reproductive health.

    If adopted as such, the draft text will require Swaziland to protect the family, motherhood, and childhood (art. 28). The draft text also mandates Swaziland to provide social welfare to the needy (art. 28(6)).

    The draft text specifies that the right to equality applies in all spheres of political, economic, social, and cultural life (art. 21).

    How can this be used? This provision would be particularly helpful to promote women's participation in the policy process, so that their voices and experiences may be heard, and their problems addressed.

    The draft text explicitly authorizes "affirmative action" type of legislations in order to redress social, economic, educational or other imbalance (art. 21(5)).

    The draft text specifically protects the rights of women (art. 29).

  • It requires Swaziland, "Subject to the availability of resources, [to] provide facilities and opportunities necessary to enhance the welfare of women to enable them to realise their full potential and advancement."
  • It specifically mandates Swaziland to take all necessary steps to ensure the integration of women "into the mainstream of economic development" (art. 60(5)).

    It empowers women through the following rights:

    • right to "equal treatment with men and that right shall include equal opportunities in political, economic and social activities" (art. 29)
    • right to refuse to uphold or be subject to customs a woman opposes (art. 29)
    • right to paid maternity leave (art. 33(3))
    • right to be represented in parliament (art. 89)

    Another provision particularly useful for women's empowerment enunciates the right of each spouse to inherit a portion out of the estate of his/her deceased spouse (art. 35(1)).

    The draft text specifically protects the rights of children, including (art. 30):

    • the right to protection against work that threatens their health, education, or development
    • the right to freedom from torture or cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment or punishment, apart from moderate punishment "for the purposes of correction"
    • the right to education

    The draft text further directs Swaziland to adopt positive measures for the protection of children. Swaziland is to ensure that, among other things (art. 30):

    • a child receives a "reasonable provision out of the estate of its parents"
      How can this be used? This provision would be particularly beneficial as a protection for orphans.

    • "children receive special protection against exposure to physical and moral hazards within and outside the family."

    However, the Constitution allows restrictions to rights in certain cases.

    The Constitution authorizes restrictions to the following rights in order to protect public health:

    • right to liberty in order to prevent the spread of an infectious or contagious disease (art. 17(1)(g)), or in the case of a person who is or suspected to be addicted to drugs (art. 17(1)(h))
    • right to own private property (art. 20.2))
    • right to receive and impart information (art. 25(3))
    • right to freedom of association (art. 26(3))
    • right to freedom of movement (art. 27(3)(b))
      What do restrictions entail? By authorizing restrictions, it is acknowledged that Swaziland may be confronted with situations that will entail an infringement on rights. In such situations, Swaziland may take measures to address a public health problem without violating its own constitution.

      Restrictions are authorized under international law if all of the following conditions are met:

      1. the restriction is provided for and carried out in accordance with the law
      2. the restriction is in the interest of a legitimate objective of general interest (e.g., the protection of public health)
      3. the restriction is strictly necessary in a democratic society to achieve the objective
      4. there are no less restrictive means available to reach the same objective
      5. the restriction is not drafted or imposed arbitrarily, i.e. in an unreasonable or otherwise discriminatory manner