Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 December 2017, 11:55 GMT

Amnesty International Report 2002 - Lesotho

Publisher Amnesty International
Publication Date 28 May 2002
Cite as Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 2002 - Lesotho , 28 May 2002, available at: [accessed 14 December 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Covering events from January-December 2001

Kingdom of Lesotho
Head of state: King Letsie III
Head of government: Pakalitha Bethuel Mosisili
Capital: Maseru
Population: 2.1 million
Official languages: Sesotho, English
Death penalty: retentionist
2001 treaty ratifications/signatures: UN Convention against Torture

There were continuing reports of torture and ill-treatment of suspects in criminal investigations and use of excessive force by police against striking workers. However, there were also indications that the government made new commitments to reform police training and operations. The judicial commission of inquiry into political unrest in 1998 recommended that there should be no general amnesty for those responsible for incidents of violence.


Tensions within the ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy party became clear in October when the Deputy Prime Minister, Kelebone Maope, and some supporting members of parliament left the party. They formed the Lesotho People's Congress and joined other political parties on the opposition benches in the parliament. The government announced that elections would take place in 2002, following the adoption of a new electoral system.

The government-appointed judicial commission of inquiry into the civil disturbances of 1998 presented its findings to the Prime Minister in October. The report, which the Prime Minister presented to parliament in November, included recommendations that there should be no general amnesty, that some opposition party supporters and members of the security forces should be investigated for possible prosecution, and that recruitment and training for the security forces should be reformed. The Prime Minister announced that some opposition leaders may be charged with treason for their alleged role in the unrest.

In July, a government delegation presented its report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child on its implementation of obligations under the UN Children's Convention.

Torture and ill-treatment in custody and excessive use of force

There were a number of reports that criminal suspects were tortured by police during 2001. Detainees alleged that they were suffocated with rubber tubing and beaten, including on the soles of the feet. Women who were victims of rape and domestic violence reported that they were ill-treated and humiliated by police when they tried to make complaints.

  • An employee of a firm where an armed robbery had occurred was arrested in February and accused by police of being an accomplice. In a sworn affidavit she alleged that she was forced to partially undress and was suffocated with rubber tubing while her hands were bound. She was threatened with sexual abuse and beaten with a heavy blunt object on her back and buttocks. Medical evidence indicated bruising and other injuries consistent with her allegations.
  • Motlamisi Kalaka, aged 24, was arrested by police in June and accused of theft. He was detained at Morija police station for over two days in crowded and poor conditions. He was forced to lie naked on his stomach with his ankles and wrists tied together and suffocated with rubber tubing. He was also beaten on the soles of his feet and a rope was tied tightly around his neck. A medical report completed the day after Motlamisi Kalaka's release confirmed injuries to his neck and feet. He was not charged with any offence.
Reports were received that the police used excessive force, including during an incident in October when police whipped striking workers in the streets of Maseru.

However, the government demonstrated a commitment to eradicate torture and ill-treatment by acceding to the UN Convention against Torture in November.

AI action

In June AI appealed to the government to ensure investigations were undertaken in specific cases involving alleged incidents of torture, ill-treatment and excessive use of force by law enforcement officers. The Minister of Home Affairs replied with information on the investigation of the cases raised, but denied the alleged human rights violations.

AI country reports/visits


An AI delegate visited Lesotho in November to conduct research on human rights protection and policing. The delegate met police and government officials, diplomatic contacts and non-governmental organizations, and interviewed victims of human rights violations.
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