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The Kingdom of Eswatini has dedicated legislation on terrorism, which it uses to suppress internal dissent despite a carve-out for the exercise of certain fundamental human rights. Specific provisions in an earlier law were struck down by the High Court on constitutional law grounds, as they were deemed to be likely to infringe upon the principles of criminal justice. 

Compliance with International Law:
Last updated: one year ago

The Definition of Terrorism in Domestic Law

Eswatini defines a terrorist act in its 2008 law (as amended in 2017 following the judgment in a case before the High Court) as follows:

(1)    an act or omission which constitutes an offence under this Act or within the scope of a counterterrorism Convention; or

(2)    an act, attempted action or threat of action which -

(a)    causes or is intended to cause death or bodily injury;

(b)    causes or is intended to cause serious damage to properly;

(c)    endangers the life of any person;

(d)    creates a serious risk to the health of the public or a section of the public;

(e)    involves the use of firearms or explosives;

(f)    involves releasing into the environment or distributing or exposing the public, or any part of the public, to (i)  any dangerous, hazardous, radioactive or harmful substance; (ii)  any toxic chemical; or (iii) any harmful microbial or other biological agent or toxin;

(g)    is designed or intended to disrupt any computer system or the provision of services directly related to communications infrastructure, banking or financial services, utilities, transportation or other essential infrastructure;

(h)    is designed or intended to disrupt the provision of essential emergency services such as police, civil defence or medical services; or

(i)    constitutes the intentional taking of a hostage,

and is committed for a political, religious or ideological purpose and 

(i)    is intended to intimidate the public or a section of the public;

(ii)    to compel a Government or an Intergovernmental Organisation to do or refrain from doing any act; or

(iii)    to bring about the overthrow by force or violence, of a lawful Government.

The Act further stipulates that an act which disrupts any services, and which is committed

in pursuance of a protest demonstration or stoppage of work, shall not be deemed to be a terrorist act within the meaning of this definition, so long as the act is not intended to result in any of the harm referred to in paragraphs (a), (b), (c) or (d) of subsection (2).

Adherence to Global and Regional Terrorism Treaties


Eswatini is a State Party to most of the main United Nations treaties on terrorism.


Adherence to Global Terrorism Treaties
Treaty Adherence
1973 Convention on Crimes against Internationally Protected Persons State Party
1979 Hostage-Taking Convention State Party
1997 Terrorist Bombings Convention State Party
1999 Terrorist Financing Convention State Party
2005 Nuclear Terrorism Convention Signatory


Eswatini is signatory but not a State Party to the main African treaties on terrorism.


Adherence to Regional Terrorism Treaties
Treaty Adherence
1999 Algiers Convention Signatory
2004 Protocol to the Algiers Convention Signatory

Laws and Penalties for Terrorist Offences

The 2008 Suppression of Terrorism Act provides for 25 years' or life imprisonment upon conviction. 

Vanguard Africa has reported that in Eswatini, the 2008 Act was promulgated partly as a response to growing calls from political groups to be formally recognised and allowed to participate in elections. The law was used by royal authorities to designate the main opposition party, the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) and three other organisations, as terrorist groups. In July 2021, pro-democracy activists Mduduzi Bacede Mabuza and Mthandeni Dube were arrested and charged under the Act as pro-democracy protests spread across the country. Furthermore, the Act

has been routinely used to target civic organisations, journalists, and activists for offences such as wearing T-shirts bearing the logos of political groups or shouting slogans and making speeches at public gatherings - harmless acts of free speech that in no way constitute terrorism.

Counterterrorism Capacities and Policies at Domestic Level

The Royal Eswatini Police, which are under the Prime Minister's Office, do not have a dedicated counterterrorism unit.


Eswatini 2008 Suppression of Terrorism Act

Eswatini 2017 Amendment to the 2008 Suppression of Terrorism Act

Thulani Maseko v Prime Minister of Swaziland & Ors (2016)