The latest from Lesotho

LesothoThe situation in Lesotho, a tiny nation in South Africa, was drawn to the attention of Judges for Judges by Lawyers for Lawyers. It appears that in Lesotho a ‘hit list’ is in circulation, mentioning the names of lawyers that initiate procedures the army doesn’t like. These procedures concern for instance the legal aid of military personnel that is being detained for unclear reasons. Indeed, one of these lawyers has been murdered.
We investigated this situation using the network Judges for Judges has at its disposal in South Africa. Thus we learned that in Lesotho the judicial independence is also under a heavy pressure. For instance the presiding judge of the Court of appeal has been deposed. He is being prosecuted, allegedly for tax evasion. However the proceedings are obviously politically inspired.
We assured the Chief Justice of Lesotho of our support, wherever and whenever needed or wished for. This offer was thankfully accepted.
Possibly a ‘fact finding mission’ will follow later this year, in which Judges for Judges will participate. Furthermore the possibility is being considered to observe the legal proceedings, if the case of the presiding judge of the Court of appeal will be judged in appeal.
In cooperation with the Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) and the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) we continue to closely watch the developments.