‘Con­tro­ver­sial’ amnesty bill on cards in Le­sotho

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

MASERU — A con­tro­ver­sial bill in­tended to grant amnesty to mem­bers of the Le­sotho dis­ci­plined forces and civil ser­vants li­able for crim­i­nal prose­cu­tion for acts in­clud­ing the al­leged 2014 coup and the 2015 killing of for­mer army com­man­der Maa­parankoe Ma­hao is on the ta­ble.

The bill, that cov­ers acts com­mit­ted from Jan­uary 1, 2007, to De­cem­ber 31, 2015, was read be­fore the coun­try’s national as­sem­bly went for Christ­mas break.

It cov­ers “of­fences done or pur­ported to have been done in the ex­e­cu­tion of duty or within the scope or course of employment and for pro­tec­tion and defence of the King­dom of Le­sotho or for pub­lic safety or or­der, or for the pre­ven­tion or sup­pres­sion of mutiny or in­ter­nal dis­or­der, or in pur­suit of any political ob­jec­tive”.

Mem­bers of the army were ac­cused of arm­ing civil­ians to un­seat the gov­ern­ment as far back as 2007, an at­tempt on the life of the then prime min­is­ter Pakalitha Mo­sisili in 2009, and the bomb­ing of the then prime min­is­ter Tom Tha­bane’s girl­friend’s res­i­dence in 2014.

Out­go­ing army com­man­der Tlali Kamoli has been ac­cused of at­tempt­ing to over­throw for­mer prime min­is­ter Tha­bane in Au­gust 2014, ar­rest­ing and tor­tur­ing soldiers sus­pected of a mutiny, and or­der­ing the ar­rest turned killing of for­mer com­man­der Maa­parankoe Ma­hao.

The bill cov­ers high trea­son, mur­der, acts of violence against per­sons, ma­li­cious dam­age to prop­erty, in­cite­ment to com­mit crime and con­tra­ven­tion of the in­ter­nal se­cu­rity act.

All these, in­clud­ing mur­ders and other of­fences al­legedly com­mit­ted by of­fi­cers and civil ser­vants while on duty, will be par­doned if the law is passed.

At least 23 soldiers were ar­rested be­tween May and June 2015, seven were placed on open ar­rest and 16 re­main in cus­tody in max­i­mum se­cu­rity prison, but all of them await a court mar­tial. If the law is passed, they will im­me­di­ately be re­leased.

“Af­ter their re­lease from ar­rest or de­ten­tion, no crim­i­nal, dis­ci­plinary or civil pro­ceed­ings shall be un­der­taken against them, and if any is con­tem­plated, they shall im­me­di­ately be dis­con­tin­ued or not un­der­taken . . .” reads a sec­tion of the law.

The Sadc Com­mis­sion of In­quiry that was headed by Botswana Judge Mphaphi Phumaphi rec­om­mended amnesty for the ar­rested soldiers, and prose­cu­tion for those who killed Ma­hao, but the coali­tion gov­ern­ment is adamant the amnesty should cover all soldiers and mem­bers of the dis­ci­plined forces.

The law also of­fers com­pen­sa­tion for vic­tims who have been af­fected or suf­fered dam­ages while the of­fences were com­mit­ted. — AFP —

MAL­NOUR­ISHED . . . A mother feeds her child with a ready-to-use food as part of a pro­gramme for mal­nour­ished chil­dren spon­sored by the World Food Pro­gramme at a Health Cen­tre in Ma­vivi, Beni ter­ri­tory, east­ern DRC. AFP

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