Lesotho

Judicial independence is critical to protecting press freedom in Africa

In this opinion piece, Anneke Meerkotter, Litigation Director of the Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC), discusses a recent High Court of Lesotho (sitting as a Constitutional Court) judgment which declared the offence of criminal defamation unconstitutional. She takes the opportunity to also reflect more generally on the extent to which judiciaries have created the space for constitutional jurisprudence to be exercised in a manner that facilitates social transformation. 

 

Lesotho Constitutional Court Repeals Criminal Defamation and Reaffirms Freedom of the Press

FREEDOM of the press and other media, as well as the safety of journalists, were all given a boost this week with a major new decision by Lesotho’s constitutional court. Three judges sitting in the high court’s constitutional division – Moroke Mokhesi, ‘Maseforo Mahase and Teboho Moiloa – have found that criminal defamation, long used as a threat against journalists and the media, is unconstitutional. This decision adds Lesotho to the growing list of African jurisdictions where criminal defamation has been repealed.

WHEN award-winning journalist and media owner Basildon Peta wrote and published a story about the supposed power of the then-commander of Lesotho’s defence force to boss the cabinet around, no-one missed his point. Using the verbal equivalent of a political cartoon, he pictured the general, Tlali Kamoli, interrupting a cabinet meeting and ordering that the ministers strip to their bare chests and do press-ups in the grounds of State House.

Lesotho: Independence of the Judiciary in Peril

FOR the second time this year, the political authorities in Lesotho are involved in major litigation that threatens the independence of the judiciary. As Carmel Rickard writes, the latest shock is the government’s determined efforts to get rid of Lesotho’s first woman chief justice, Nthomeng Majara.

 

THIS year is rapidly turning into one of the worst yet for judicial independence in Lesotho.

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