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Lesotho
15.07.16
Urgent Interventions

Harassment and attack against Mr. Lloyd Mutungamiri and other staff members of the Lesotho Times

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LSO001 / 0716 / OBS 062
Killing attempt / Judicial harassment

Lesotho
July 15, 2016

TheObservatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint partnershipof the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH, requests your urgentintervention in the following situation in Lesotho.

Briefdescription of the situation:

TheObservatory has been informed by reliable sources about the continuousharassment and attack against Mr. LloydMutungamiri, a Zimbabwean journalist and Editor of the Lesotho Times,as well as various staff members of the Lesotho Times, in relation to anarticle published in the newspaper Issue No. 12 of June 23-29, 2016 aboutLieutenant General Tlali Kamoli, current commander of the Lesotho Defence Force(LDF)[1].

Accordingto the information received, on July 9, 2016, at around 11pm, Mr. LloydMutungamiri was attacked by unknown gunmen upon arrival to his home at HaThamae, in Maseru, the capital of Lesotho, who shot at him four times. Mr. LloydMutungamiri sustained gunshots wounds and a bullet is still lodged in his jaw. Hewas first treated at Queen Mamohato Memorial Hospital in Maseru, under constantpolice and military watch, before being transferred on July 12 to a hospital inBloemfontein, South Africa. His condition remains critical. The soothing of Mr.Mutungamiri is the high point of a series of continuous harassment andintimidation he has recently faced, along with various staff members of the LesothoTimes.

On June 23, 2016, at around 5pm, Ms.Keiso Mohloboli, investigativejournalist at both Lesotho Times and the Sunday Express, receiveda phone call from a police officer named Khesa inquiring about her whereabouts.As soon as she informed the police officer of her location, two police officerscame to pick her up and bring her to Maseru police headquarters, whereAssistant Commissioner of the Police Tutuoane and five other police officersinterrogated her regarding the above-mentioned article she had written aboutthe Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) LieutenantGeneral Tlali Kamoli. At around 10 pm, Ms. Mohloboli was released on thecondition that she writes an apology letter to the LDF Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli as well as apologised publiclyin the Lesotho Times and Sunday Express newspapers.

In themorning of June 24, 2016, three police officers arrested Ms. Keiso Mohloboliand Mr. Lloyd Mutungamiri at the Lesotho Times office and brought themto the Mabote police station, where they were interrogated and asked todisclose their sources for the above-mentioned article. Ms. Mohloboli and Mr.Mutungamiri were denied the right to a lawyer despite their requests. Both werereleased later that day. While Ms. Mohloboli was released without condition,Mr. Mutungamiri was releasedon condition that he reports himself again on June 27, 2016 with theLesotho Times Chief Operations Officer Tshepo Tlapi, owner and Publisher BasildonPeta and Head of Production Mr. Ngoni. The police confiscated MrMutungamiri’s Zimbabwean passport without any reasons and court order or aspart of bail conditions.

On June 27,2016, Mr. Mutungamiri reported to the police alone, where he was brieflyinterrogated before being released. He was also given back his passport.

OnJuly 5, 2016, Mr. Peta and Mr. Mutungamiri reported again to the police. Mr. Basildon Petawas subsequently taken to the Magistrate Court, where he was charged for"defamation" and "crimen injuria", under Section 104 of thePenal Code Act No 6 of 2010.

TheObservatory strongly condemns the shooting of Mr. Lloyd Mutungamiri and theongoing harassment against him, Mr. Basildon Peta, Ms. Keiso Mohloboli andother staff members of the Lesotho Times, which seems to be aimed athindering their legitimate human rights activities, and calls on theauthorities of Lesotho to guarantee in all circumstances their physical andpsychological integrity and to put an end to any kind of harassment - includingat the judicial level - against them.

Actionsrequested:

Please writeto the authorities of Lesotho asking them to:

i. Guaranteein all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. LloydMutungamiri, Ms. Keiso Mohloboli,Mr. BasildonPeta as well as of all staff members of the LesothoTimes and all human rights defenders in Lesotho;

ii. Carryout an immediate, thorough, impartial and transparent investigation into theabove-mentioned attack against Mr. Lloyd Mutungamiri in order to identify allthose responsible, bring them before an independent tribunal, and sanction themin accordance with the law;

iii. Put anend to any kind of harassment - including at the judicial level - against Mr.Lloyd Mutungamiri, Ms. Keiso Mohloboli,Mr. BasildonPeta as well as all human rights defenders in Lesotho, andensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out theirlegitimate activities without any hindrance or fear of reprisals;

iv. Complywith the national and international legislation safeguarding the independenceof lawyers and protecting them from unlawful interference in their professionalactivities;

v. Conformwith the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human RightsDefenders, adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, especiallyits Articles 1 and 12.2;

vi. Ensurein all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms inaccordance with international human rights standards and internationalinstruments ratified by Lesotho.

Addresses:

· H.M. King Letsie III, the Royal Palace Secretariat, P.0. Box 527,Maseru, Lesotho, Email: sps@palace.org.ls

· Hon Dr. Bethuel Pakalitha Mosisili, PrimeMinister of the Kingdom of Lesotho, Fax: +266-22310444

· Mr.Moeketse Malebo, Minister ofJustice,Human Rights and Correctional Service of the Kingdom of Lesotho, Fax: +26622310365 Email : info@justice.gov.ls

· Mr. Tlohang Sekhamane, Minister ofForeign Affairs and International Relations of the Kingdom of Lesotho, Fax: (+266) 2231 0178 / 2231 0642 Email: moeketsim@foreign.gov.ls

· Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of Lesothoto the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: + 41 22 900 05 25; Email: mission.lesotho@ties.itu.int

· Embassy of Lesotho in Brussels,Belgium, Fax: +32 2 705 6779 / 3675 / 3976; Email: lesothobruemb@skynet.be; lesothobrussels@hotmail.com

Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassyof Lesotho in your respective country.

[1]The article, entitled “Exit Strategy for Kamoli”, was about Lieutenant GeneralTlali Kamoli, current commander of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF), who is accused of plunging Lesotho intopolitical and security crisis by attempted coup in 2014, kidnapping andseverely torturing of some soldiers suspected of a mutiny plot and killing offormer army commander Lt. Gen Maaparankoe Mahao.

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