Hu­man rights un­der the spot­light

Lesotho Times - - News - Mot­samai Mokotjo

LOBBY group Trans­for­ma­tion Re­source Cen­tre (TRC) is plan­ning to em­bark on a sen­si­ti­sa­tion pro­gramme to fur­ther put pres­sure on gov­ern­ment about the need to en­act the Hu­man Rights Bill 2013.

Ac­cord­ing to the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s Pro­gramme As­sis­tant for Democ­racy and Hu­man Rights, Likopo Mokhele, the fact that the Bill was not in King Let­sie III’S Speech from the Throne on the re­open­ing on the 9th Par­lia­ment two weeks ago, was an­other cause for con­cern.

once the Bill be­comes law, it paves the way for the estab­lish­ment of a Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion, whose man­date would be to in­ves­ti­gate hu­man rights abuses, and rec­om­mend legal steps to be taken if nec­es­sary.

“We were sur­prised that the is­sue of the Bill didn’t ap­pear; it was not part of the King’s Speech.

That is why in our an­nual plan, we in­tend to pres­sure gov­ern­ment more about it and en­sure a Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion is fi­nally es­tab­lished in Le­sotho.

“We are try­ing to come up with cam­paigns to re­sus­ci­tate in­ter­est from po­lit­i­cal lead­ers about the ur­gency of this leg­is­la­tion.

“What is also wor­ry­ing is that the Bill is not among those to be tabled be­fore par­lia­ment dur­ing this ses­sion.”

Ms Mokhele on Tues­day also told the Le­sotho Times that the TRC had in­formed the Min­is­ter of Law and Con­sti­tu­tional Af­fairs, as well as the Prin­ci­pal Sec­re­tary in the same min­istry, about the ur­gent need to es­tab­lish the Com­mis­sion.

“The TRC has been at the fore­front of lob­by­ing gov­ern­ment to en­act the Bill into law since De­cem­ber 2011.

“The ad­vo­cacy was spon­sored by the Euro­pean Union, but it has stalled for po­lit­i­cal rea­sons,” Ms Mokhele said.

The Bill, she added, had been ap­proved by the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment but the pro­ro­ga­tion of par­lia­ment from June to De­cem­ber 2014, meant it could not be passed into law.

Since Le­sotho would be among na­tions at the Hu­man Rights Sum­mit to be held in South Africa next month, the TRC wants gov­ern­ment to “clean our house first” be­fore the sym­po­sium.

TRC’S Democ­racy and Hu­man Rights Of­fi­cer, ‘Makatleho Mo­hase,

em­pha­sised it was im­por­tant for the new gov­ern­ment, which came to power af­ter the 28 Fe­bru­ary 2015 snap elec­tions, “to show po­lit­i­cal will” in the estab­lish­ment of the rights body.

Ms Mo­hase said: “Hav­ing the Com­mis­sion will il­lus­trate that there’s good gov­er­nance in the coun­try.

Donors will turn away from us if there are hu­man rights abuses in Le­sotho, and there is un­nec­es­sary de­lay in es­tab­lish­ing a Com­mis­sion which is sup­posed to in­ves­ti­gate such cases, and ad­vise on lit­i­ga­tion that could be taken if need be.”

Re­peated at­tempts to get a com­ment from the Min­is­ter of Law and Con­sti­tu­tional Af­fairs, Mot­la­len­toa Let­sosa, were fruit­less.

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