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Released on: June 14, 2023

CFE to Hold Second Annual Eswatini Freedom of Expression Summit

The Campaign for Free Expression (CFE) has partnered with UN eSwatini, the Canadian High
Commission, British High Commission and Coordinating Assembly of NGOs (CANGO) to host
the 2
nd edition of its annual Freedom of Expression (FoE) Summit aimed at discussing issues
pertaining to the achievement of a democratic Eswatini.
This year’s conference will take place on 15 June 2023 in Mbabane and is anticipated to bring
together 150 delegates from a diverse pool of freedom of expression and human rights
supporters in the country and internationally. Delegates will be drawn from political parties,
the media, the diplomatic corps, multilateral organisations, civil society, government
institutions, the private and public sector, youth and women organisations, cultural and
artistic players, environmental activists, faith-based organisations, and academia, among
others. It follows the successful hosting of the inaugural summit in October 2022, which
gathered about 100 delegates made up of journalists, social and human rights activists, civil
society, members of the academia and diplomatic missions among others, over two days.
The summit aims to build a representative coalition of organisations and individuals willing
and prepared to defend FoE in the country. The focus this year is on the current human rights
situation in eSwatini, how it has evolved and what needs to be done to turn the situation
around. CFE Executive Director, Prof. Anton Harber is expected to open the summit. CANGO
Executive Director, Thembinkhosi Dlamini, Swaziland Action Group Against Abuse (SWAGAA)
Director, Nonhlanhla Dlamini, and Federation of the Organisations of the Disabled in
Swaziland (FODSWA) President, Bongani Makama are amongst the panellists. Senior Human
Rights Adviser at the United Nations Resident Coordinator’s Office Laila Nazarali, Deputy
British High Commissioner to Eswatini Claudia Taylor and Clerico Constantino, representing
the High Commission of Canada will also deliver speeches.
As a precursor to this year’s summit, CFE and partners combined efforts with the National
Association of Journalists (ENAJ) to host a two-day journalists’ election coverage training
workshop which kicked off on Tuesday 13 June 2023 at the George Hotel in Manzini. The
workshop is set against the backdrop of the upcoming national elections in eSwatini, with a
focus on building the capacity of at least 20 local journalists to integrate a human rights-based
approach in their elections coverage by reporting independently, fairly, inclusively, and
ethically. The need for heightened and targeted focus on freedom of expression as the
umbrella of all human rights could not be more pronounced than during this time of
transition, and growing calls for democratisation and respect for the rule of law.
Trainees for the workshop were drawn from mainstream media and freelancers, including
print, broadcasting, online and web-based practitioners. The comprehensive course module
will cover topics such as Disinformation and fact-checking, The role and rights of the media
during elections; Understanding freedom of expression, human rights, electoral law and
processes as they affect media reporting, media ethics, human rights and diversity; and
Ensuring gender equity and youth participation in the elections, among others. The expected
outcome is that participants will be well prepared for free, independent, inclusive, and
tolerant media coverage that ensures accuracy, diversity of voices, gender equality, and the
elimination of hate speech and incitement of violence.
In hosting the workshop and summit side-by-side, CFE and partners aim to encourage
journalists to incorporate freedom of expression in their news coverage because when
freedom of expression is protected, citizens are able to defend all their other human rights
and governments can be held accountable.
CFE is grateful for the support from its partners: the UN in Eswatini, The Canadian High
Commission, The British High Commission and CANGO.
For inquiries, contact:
Anton Harber
Executive Director


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