Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s first 100 days in office have fallen far short in tackling the deeply entrenched culture of impunity for past human rights violations, Amnesty International said today.
After more than three months of his premiership, there is no clear progress in a series of cases involving killings by Lesotho’s security forces and the attempted murder of a journalist in the country.
“Prime Minister Thabane’s government has missed an opportunity in these 100 days to demonstrate a clear break from the past to ensure accountability for past human rights violations,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa.
“He must live up to the promise he made at his inauguration to create a more stable and lawful country.”
There has been no demonstrable progress in the criminal investigation into the killing of Lt. General Maaparankoe Mahao, who was killed by members of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) in June 2015, despite recommendations made by the Commission of Inquiry set up by the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
More than a year after the shooting of Lesotho Times editor, Lloyd Mutungamiri, by unknown gunmen, he is yet to see justice for the crime that nearly took his life. In a chilling attack on the right to freedom of expression, he was attacked outside his home in Maseru, Lesotho, on 9 July 2016. The Lesotho Times is an investigative newspaper that had published politically sensitive stories about corruption within the police and military.
It is also unclear how far criminal investigations into the killing of Prime Minister Thabane’s estranged wife have progressed. Lipolelo Thabane was shot dead by unknown assailants on 14 June 2017, on the eve of his inauguration.
Earlier this month, on 5 September 2017, LDF commander Khoantle Motsomotso 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.
“Prime Minister Thomas Thabane must seize the opportunity to open a new chapter for Lesotho by urgently tackling the culture of impunity that has fuelled human rights violations for decades,” said Deprose Muchena.
“Failing to address historic abuses simply creates a culture whereby more abuses occur.”
Prime Minister Thomas Thabane took office on 16 June after an election on 3 June 2017 following a vote of no confidence in Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili on 1 March 2017.
A coalition of four political parties, made up of the All Basotho Convention (ABC), the Monyane Moleleki-led Alliance of Democrats (AD), Basotho National Party (BNP) and the Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL) formed a ruling coalition after combining their 63 parliamentary seats.
Lesotho has been characterized by a political and security crisis since 2014, resulting in a spike in human rights violations.