Govt blasts Amnesty In­ter­na­tional

Lesotho Times - - News - Pas­cali­nah Kabi

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.

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