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Basotho want human rights violators to account: study

By Thoboloko Ntšonyane

MASERU – The recent findings released by the Afrobarometer have revealed that many Basotho want the perpetrators of human rights to be held accountable.

“Only about one-fifth of Basotho support amnesty for people who have perpetrated political crimes or human-rights violations…,” reads the Afrobarometer statement.

The statement continues: “In addition to insisting on accountability for political crimes, most Basotho support the establishment of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission that can investigate and make recommendations on past political crimes and human rights violations.”

Meanwhile, the government-sponsored Amnesty Bill, which would see the mounting of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, sought to grant members of the security institutions and politicians a blanket amnesty for offences committed, provided they confessed was met with resistance by the victims’ families and civil society organizations.

On the other hand, the now defunct National Reforms Authority (NRA) among other responsibilities was charged with the mandate to come up with a peace architecture for Basotho, however, it had not materialized. In 2021, there was a multi-stakeholder dialogue that was convened to come up with the peace architecture model the country should adopt.

The study established that eight in 10 Basotho, 81%, want those found guilty of perpetrating political crimes and human rights violations to be punished.

It further says that more than seven in 10 of the citizens, about 72%, support the idea of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s establishment to investigate and recommend on the findings of political crimes and human rights violations.

“While Basotho want reconciliation, they also want to see those who committed crimes for political motives to be held accountable,” further reads the findings in the pertinent part.

There are “high-profile” cases currently being prosecuted before the High Court. The cases range from treason, murder, attempted murder and detonations of grenades and the members of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF), Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) and politicians are standing trial.

Afrobarometer is a pan-African survey-research-network that carries research meant to evaluate democracy, governance, and quality of life.