At least seven trade unionists who appeared to be prisoners of conscience were detained for short periods. Peaceful demonstrators were assaulted by police. Three prisoners remained under sentence of death. In March Lesotho citizens voted in the first democratic elections to take place for 23 years. The opposition Basotholand Congress Party won all 65 National Assembly seats and formed a new government, headed by Prime Minister Ntsu Mokhehele, to replace the former military rulers. Lesotho adopted a new Constitution and Bill of Rights. The government ordered few inquiries into cases of human rights violations reported in previous years, effectively giving impunity to those members of the security forces responsible for political killings and torture in the past. Police used provisions of the Internal Security Act (1984) which restrict meetings and demonstrations to prevent workers from airing grievances about pay and working conditions. In August lawyers challenged these provisions, on the grounds that they contravened constitutional guarantees. In late August parliament amended the relevant section of the Act, removing the requirement for meeting organizers to obtain prior police permission. In July police forcibly dispersed a peaceful march in the capital, Maseru, organized by members of the Construction and Allied Workers Union of Lesotho (CAWULE). Police assaulted the marchers with batons, and some marchers were injured by flying tear-gas canisters. The General Secretary of CAWULE was detained for several hours and charged with contravening the Internal Security Act. The case had not concluded by the end of the year, pending the outcome of the August legal challenge to the Internal Security Act. In August, six branch officials of the Lesotho Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers' Union were detained for up to 48 hours then released on bail pending charges which were subsequently dropped. In July, two soldiers convicted of the 1986 murder of two former government ministers and their wives (see Amnesty International Report 1992), one of whom faced the death penalty, had their sentences confirmed. Their appeal hearing was short and did not allow for full review of the case or consider the torture allegations made by the appellants during their trial. Two other prisoners remained under sentence of death. Amnesty International raised with the newly elected government its continuing concerns about past human rights violations, and urged the new government to provide safeguards in law and practice against future human rights abuses.

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