Rights Bill ‘snatched’ from Se­nate

Lesotho Times - - News - Billy Ntaote

Se­nate was un­able to in­cor­po­rate its amend­ments to the Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion Bill af­ter the Na­tional As­sem­bly made the “rare” de­ci­sion to take it back from the up­per House, Se­nate pres­i­dent, prince Seeiso Bereng Seeiso has said.

the Bill, which pro­vides for the ad­min­is­tra­tion and reg­u­la­tion of the ac­tiv­i­ties of the com­mis­sion, was ini­tially tabled in the Na­tional As­sem­bly on 2 Novem­ber 2015. Af­ter the Bill was passed by the Na­tional As­sem­bly last De­cem­ber, it was sub­mit­ted to the Se­nate for ap­proval be­fore it could be signed into law by King Let­sie III.

How­ever, prince Seeiso Bereng Seeiso told the Le­sotho Times this week the Se­nate did not make the amend­ments af­ter ex­ceed­ing their al­lo­cated 30 days. He said while le­gal, the move by the Na­tional As­sem­bly was un­prece­dented.

“To my rec­ol­lec­tion, it is the first time since 1993 that the Na­tional As­sem­bly asked for a Bill be­fore Se­nate was done with its work,” said prince Seeiso Bereng Seeiso.

He said the Se­nate Leg­isla­tive Com­mit­tee had made the pro­posed amend­ments, but the process failed to take place.

“the amend­ments were never taken to the floor of the Se­nate, so the ac­tual process could not take place,” prince Seeiso Bereng Seeiso said.

“Due to a 30-day con­sti­tu­tional re­quire­ment from the day the Bill is pre­sented to Se­nate, we had no choice but to re­turn it to the Na­tional As­sem­bly.”

He said the ex­pec­ta­tion was that the Lower House would have over­looked the con­sti­tu­tional re­quire­ments and af­forded Se­nate more time to make its con­tri­bu­tion.

“My un­der­stand­ing is that the con­sti­tu­tion is sup­posed to guide us, and where we seek ex­ten­sion it can be given, es­pe­cially when we have good in­ten­tions,” the Se­nate pres­i­dent said.

“I know that civil so­ci­ety had its claims that in the Na­tional As­sem­bly they did not get the au­di­ence they needed at com­mit­tees but on our part, we had af­forded them such au­di­ence.”

He fur­ther said har­mon­is­ing the work­ing re­la­tion­ship be­tween the Houses was im­per­a­tive even if they may have dif­fer­ent view­points.

“We should be a par­lia­ment ma­ture enough to re­spect each other’s views even if we may dif­fer in ideas. At the end of the day, it is the pub­lic in­ter­est that mat­ters,” added prince Seeiso Bereng Seeiso.

ef­forts to get a com­ment from the Na­tional As­sem­bly Clerk (King’s Coun­sel) Fine Maema and Speaker Ntl­hoi Mot­samai were fruit­less yesterday.

But civil so­ci­ety or­gan­i­sa­tions have ar­gued that in its cur­rent form, the Bill falls short of the paris prin­ci­ples re­lat­ing to the sta­tus and func­tion­ing of na­tional in­sti­tu­tions pro­tect­ing and pro­mot­ing hu­man rights.

Ac­cord­ing to the paris prin­ci­ples, which were de­fined dur­ing an in­ter­na­tional work­shop in the French cap­i­tal in 1991, the key el­e­ments of the com­po­si­tion of a na­tional in­sti­tu­tion are its in­de­pen­dence and plu­ral­ism.

Se­nate pres­i­dent prince Seeiso Bereng Seeiso

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