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Judicial independence at issue in Swazi name-change suit

Publish date: 09 July 2018
Issue Number: 781
Diary: IBA Legalbrief Africa
Category: Litigation

When Swaziland's King Mswati III declared the name of his country changed, forthwith, to Eswatini, it was met with scepticism from many commentators who said the desperately poor country should not be spending time and money on such issues. Not three months later, the issue is being challenged on legal grounds: a human rights organisation has launched an application testing the constitutional right of the king, 'Africa's last absolute monarch' to make unilateral changes to the country's name. Carmel Rickard, in her A Matter of Justice column on the Legalbrief website, sees this as a major test of the independence of the judiciary in that country, whose judges were instructed by a previous Chief Justice not to hear any case that challenges or criticises the king.

A Matter of Justice