The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says he is concerned about reports on the use of excessive force against student protesters in Eswatini.
Students have been staging demonstrations in schools in recent weeks across the small southern Africa kingdom, leading to the army being deployed in some areas.
The UN chief said the deployment of armed forces and the indefinite closure of schools “adversely affects children and young people”.
He said the security forces should respect human rights standards “including the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child” – and emphasised the need to allow people to “exercise their civil and political rights peacefully”.
“The Secretary-General condemns all acts of violence and urges all parties and the media to refrain from disinformation, hate speech and incitement,” Mr Guterres said in a statement.
The demonstrations in Eswatini, formerly called Swaziland, come amid complaints of high levels of unemployment and poverty.
There have also been calls for democratic reforms in the kingdom, which is Africa’s last absolute monarchy.