Basotho have right to peace, of the police is not to deny but protect
Development for Peace Education (DPE) learns with concern of the mounting reports on the escalating police brutality in Lesotho and the general public discontent about the situation. Although DPE is encouraged by the concern raised by the Police Commissioner on the situation especially over the Radio Lesotho Seboping programme addressing the involvement of some police officers in crime, DPE holds a strong view that more should be done effectively and urgently so. The crime situation in Lesotho is alarmingly high thus disrupting peace and tranquility from which ordinary citizens are able not only to think but even start and sustain their livelihoods means in the country beset by chronically high unemployment rate especially among the youth both educated and uneducated. Fighting crime should therefore be one of the priorities of the government otherwise private citizens’ efforts to make ends meet will be shattered by criminals, the situation that will compel citizens to take law unto themselves in an effort to protect themselves and their property. This must be addressed in earnest and deserves better attention than being turned into a political gimmick.
However DPE believes that such an effort should be defined and swiftly executed within the confines of the law, respect for human rights and upholding of firm stance against impunity. The number of incidents where police tortured suspects and some lose life in police custody is alarming. DPE wishes to remind the Government of Lesotho and the public that it has committed to the culture of peace (UN, 1999: Resolution A/RES/53/243, Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace). The resolution commits government to promoting human rights, upholding Universal Declaration of Human Rights at all levels and fully implementing international instruments on human rights and abolition of torture. The Declaration of Peace and Cessation of War by Heavenly Culture World Peace Restoration of Light (HWPL) which DPE calls upon government of Lesotho to adopt reiterates on the need for the promotion of culture of peace challenges states to refrain from use of force. The theme for the International Peace Day 2018 marked by DPE and CCJP in Lesotho is “right to Peace”. Indeed Basotho have right to peace as enshrined in the Vision 2020 and that should not be denied by criminals either civil of uniformed. The role of police is not to deny Basotho this right but promote. In fact the Section 4 of the Police Service Act 1998 defines the work of Lesotho Mounted police Services as “to uphold the law; to preserve the peace; protect life and property, to detect and prevent crime, to apprehend offenders; bring offenders to justice; and for associated purposes.” This function emanates from the mandate of police in the Section 147(1) of the Lesotho constitution defined as to maintain law and order.
Therefore DPE resolves to campaign against police brutality through various means all of which shall espouse constructive engagement advocacy and non-violent means. DPE starts this campaign by calling upon police authority to;
- Apprehend all police officers involved in the torture of civilians including suspects in their custody and those who committed acts which ended up with loss of lives;
- Put them before courts and facilitate their speedy and fair trial;
- Consider legal arrangement where police officers involved in torture acts, tried and found guilty bear costs including those civil claims which may arise as a result thereof.
This campaign shall include efforts to fully understand police brutality in Lesotho and include citizens’ view on how it should be tackled.
In this campaign DPE shall collaborate with other human rights defenders in Lesotho to mobilize all sectors of society to address police brutality through robust non-violent means.