The U.N. voiced alarm on Tuesday at the eruption of deadly violence during protests in Eswatini, calling for an independent investigation into all alleged rights abuses, including by law enforcement.
The U.N.’s rights office said there were claims that security forces had engaged in “disproportionate and unnecessary use of force” after being sent to quell protests that escalated last week.
Spokeswoman Liz Throssell told reporters in Geneva there were claims police had used live ammunition, and she also highlighted reports of looting and vandalism by protesters.
“Although the situation is now reported to be calm, we remain concerned at the potential for further unrest,” she said.
The protests in the tiny landlocked southern African country, formerly known as Swaziland, first erupted in May following the death of a 25-year-old law student, allegedly while in police custody.
But after protesters in Africa’s last absolute monarchy ramped up their campaign for political reform last week, the government deployed the army to disperse the crowds.
Unverified videos have emerged of beatings by security forces. Local civil society and opposition groups have claimed several dozen were killed.
In New York, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for both sides to address their differences “through inclusive and meaningful dialogue.”
Amnesty International accused the security forces of a “frontal attack on human rights” and alleged at least 20 people had been killed.
The government said it has not received an official report of any deaths.
Throssell urged security forces to minimize any use of force during protests.
“We also call on the government to ensure that there are prompt, transparent, effective, independent and impartial investigations into all allegations of human rights violations,” she said.