Govt blasts Amnesty International
THE government has accused Amnesty International of maliciously misguiding itself when it accused Prime Minister Thomas Thabane of failing to tackle human rights violations in his first 100 days in office.
Dr Thabane returned to the premiership position on June 16 after his party – All Basotho Convention (ABC) – formed a coalition government with Alliance of Democrats, Basotho National Party and Reformed Congress of Lesotho.
The Dr Thabane government replaced a seven-party coalition government led by Pakalitha Mosisili’s government, which was accused of condoning human rights violations linked to the army and the police.
Amnesty International, an organisation defending human rights, released a statement earlier on this week saying Dr Thabane’s government had fell far short in tackling the “deeply entrenched culture of impunity for past human rights violations.”
In an interview yesterday, the Prime Minister’s office Press Attaché Thabo Thakalekoala said it was incorrect that the government had failed to address human rights violations.
“I think the organisation maliciously misguided itself and it seems they are doing a good job at analysing issues related to the Lesotho situation,” Mr Thakalekoala said.
He adds: “Amnesty International is a respectable organisation fighting for the rights of the people and it has done very well in protecting the rights of the journalists but it must come to Lesotho and do its investigations before it issues such statements.”
Mr Thakalekoala said government was working very hard to ensure the suspected killers of slain army commander Lieutenant-General Maaparankoe Mahao were brought to book as recommended by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Commission of Inquiry.
“What do they mean when they say we are not doing anything to tackle the culture of impunity when several army officers suspected of serious crimes are being arrested and appearing before the courts? I think they did not do their homework,” he said.
He explained it was important to understand that there were many cases of human rights violations condoned by the past regime.
“It is not fair to expect results in all cases within such a short period of time since Dr Thabane returned to power.”
Mr Thakalekoala said the police would soon crack the attempted murder case and arrest suspects who shot Lesotho Times editor Lloyd Mutungamiri at his home last year.
“The new police commissioner has been working hard to bring to book those who committed various crimes and I believe that soon the suspected killers of Ms Lipolelo Thabane will soon face the long arm of the law,” he said.
However, in its statement, Amnesty International indicated that after more than three months of Dr Thabane’s premiership, there is still no clear progress in a series of cases involving killings by Lesotho’s security forces and the attempted murder.
“Prime Minister Thabane’s government has missed an opportunity in the days he has been in office to demonstrate a clear break from the past to ensure accountability for past human rights violations,” Mr Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa was quoted in the statement.
“He must live up to the promise he made at his inauguration to create a more stable and lawful country.”
The organisation said there has not been demonstrable progress in the criminal investigation into the killing of Lt. General Maaparankoe Mahao, who was shot by his army colleagues in June 2015.
This is despite recommendations made by the Commission of Inquiry set up by the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
It further states that Mr Mutungamiri is yet to see justice for the crime that nearly took his life while it is also unclear how far criminal investigations into the killing of Prime Minister Thabane’s estranged wife Ms Lipolelo Thabane has progressed.
“On 5 September 2017, the Lesotho Defense Force (LDF) commander Khoantle Motšomotšo was shot dead in his office at the LDF headquarters in Maseru. Two other LDF members, Brigadier Bulane Sechele and Colonel Tefo Hashatsi, also died in the ensuing shoot out. Prime Minister Thabane announced that investigations are underway.”
The statement further urges the Prime Minister to seize the opportunity to open a new chapter for Lesotho by urgently tackling the culture of impunity that has fueled human rights violations for decades.
“Failing to address historic abuses simply creates a culture whereby more abuses occur,” read the statement.