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The TRC and SALC note with great concern the reports of torture and ill-treatment of Advocate Napo Mafaesa by the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) whilst being in custody. The TRC and SALC condemn any form of ill-treatment or torture. This incident follows the trend of other alarming acts of police brutality, unlawful use of force, and ill-treatment committed by state authorities in Lesotho.

Under sections 4(1)(d) and 8(1) of the Constitution of Lesotho, any form of inhuman treatment or torture is prohibited. The Constitution binds any individual, including members of state authorities.

In addition, Lesotho has ratified the United Nations Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) in 2001 and is a state party to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights which prohibits torture or any other form of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. Lesotho has, therefore, a duty under international law to take effective legislative, administrative, judicial, or other measures to prevent acts of torture and other ill-treatment. In that regard, the lack of investigations and prosecution of acts of torture and cruel treatment creates impunity.

Acts by the police that might qualify as torture and ill-treatment of a lawyer are deeply concerning and highlight the importance of investigating and prosecuting such conduct. As reiterated by the High Court of Lesotho sitting as the Constitutional Court in Ramakatsa v. COMPOLtorture is a crime under customary international law and the UN Convention Against Torture (…) persons who practice it are individually accountable under customary international law and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.”

The undersigned organisations call on the government and state authorities of Lesotho to:

  • Investigate the alleged acts of torture in the matter of Advocate Napo Mafaesa.
  • Ensure accountability by investigating and prosecuting acts of torture and any other ill-treatment.
  • Ensure that victims of torture and other ill-treatment are provided with effective remedies, including adequate compensation and rehabilitation.
  • Ensure that victims of these violations have access to medical care and access to psychological support for as long as needed.
  • Expedite the passing of legislation to effectively criminalise torture and other ill-treatment and establish effective, independent oversight bodies with powers to review and investigate torture and other ill-treatment complaints.
  • Capacitate the police service to ensure efficient policing and law enforcement in accordance with human rights standards.

Issued by the Southern Africa Litigation Centre and Transformation Resource Centre