See also:
» 22.04.2009 - Lesotho's Prime Minister safe
» 29.07.2008 - Shock over closure of Lesotho free media
» 16.05.2008 - Lesotho media consider acting against govt
» 13.10.2004 - Broadcasting bill creates controversy in Lesotho
» 09.08.2004 - Infighting in Lesotho media environment
» 09.06.2004 - Lesotho Minister slapped in the face by media
» 29.04.2004 - Lesotho private media trapped between court and spies
» 19.06.2003 - Concern over access to information in Lesotho

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Human rights | Media

Secrecy on Lesotho human rights violation case

afrol News, 28 May - Thabo Thakalekoala, sub-editor and star reporter of "Mopheme", a weekly English-language newspaper in Lesotho, has repeatedly been denied information relating to the possible mistreatment of Katleho Malataliana, a former member of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF). Mr Malataliana was arrested in November 1998, along with other LDF members, and later convicted of mutiny against senior officers and the government.

Mr Thakalekoala's investigation into the circumstances surrounding Malataliana's hospitalisation began after he received several tips from family members and other patients at the Queen Elizabeth II Hospital about the prisoner's ill-treatment.

Mr Malataliana was transferred from Maseru Central Prison, where he had been incarcerated since 1999, in early April 2003 after he suffered a stroke, reports Zoe Titus of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA).

Mr Thakalekoala has been investigating reports of possible human rights violations against Mr Malataliana since being told that he was handcuffed and had his legs chained to his hospital bed.

An armed guard was also positioned at the door to Mr Malataliana's hospital room. On 12 May, Thakalekoala visited the hospital, where he personally witnessed Malataliana's ill-treatment.

On 15 May, Mr Thakalekoala's attempts to get an official response from the Director of Prisons were unsuccessful. He then attempted to get information from the commander of Maseru Central Prison, where he was informed by an officer, Lebitsa Lebitsa, that the commander would not comment on "internal matters."

The Transformation Resource Centre (TRC) of Lesotho, a well-known human rights non-governmental organisation (NGO), has also refused to take up the matter since, according to the NGO, its work relates to human rights education rather than advocacy and lobbying for change.

That same day, Tokoloho Khutsoane, information officer for the Lesotho Red Cross Society, informed Thakalekoala that the issue was not within its jurisdiction, but instead fell within the mandate of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) since the former LDF personnel were considered to be political prisoners.

Mr Khutsoane referred Thakalekoala to the ICRC's deputy head of mission, Pierre Dobbs, who is based in Pretoria, South Africa. However, there has been no response to date to Mr Thakalekoala's queries, MISA reports.

When Mr Thakalekoala contacted the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights, he was informed that the Minister, Refiloe Masemene, was out of the country on official business. Mr Thakalekoala subsequently approached MISA's Lesotho chapter (Miles) about this issue. Miles hopes, through issuing an alert, to publicise the matter to seek external intervention to assist Mr Malataliana.

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