MASERU – European Union (EU) Ambassador to Lesotho, Christian Manahl, has weighed in on the controversial Transitional Justice Commission (TJC) proposed by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Facilitation Team to Lesotho.
Manahl says the EU is willing to support the proposed TJC if it is the route Basotho are willing to take.
He was sharing these sentiments following the Article 8 Political Dialogue with the government of Lesotho. The annual dialogue takes place in the framework of Article 8 of the Cotonou Agreement – a treaty between EU, African, Caribbean and Pacific group of states (ACP Countries).
It is aimed at eradicating poverty and contributes to the gradual integration of the ACP countries in to the world economy.
Following last year’s failure of the meeting due to COVID-19 restrictions, the meeting was successfully held on Tuesday this week with both the EU and government expressing satisfaction that the dialogue happened this year.
Manahl told reporters that they discussed a range of issues including progress made by the National Reforms Authority (NRA). The authority is overseeing implementation of the multi sector reforms as recommended by SADC.
Head of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Facilitation Team to Lesotho, retired South African Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke last month proposed the TJC. Moseneke said the TJC would, among other things, consider the deferment of the high-profile trials of politicians and any other “politically-motivated trials” until after the full implementation of the multi-sector reforms.
His proposal has received mixed reactions from some of victims of the killings while some have welcomed it.
Manahl was asked about EU’s stance towards the proposed TJC having pledged money towards the reforms and support to the judiciary in engaging judges to prosecute high profile cases, with the TJC suggesting that
the trials be paused.
He said: “We are willing to support TRC if it’s the direction Basotho are willing to take, it’s a controversial issue, Basotho will deal with it internally at relevant platforms,” Manahl said the EU remain committed to assisting Lesotho reach its stability but maintained that it should be decided by Basotho.
“The society of Lesotho has to decide on it,” he said.
TJC was first rejected by Action for Peace and Solidarity (APS) saying it (TJC) has the customary functions of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).
“We have since learned that despite the universally known principle that alternative justice that avoids prosecution of suspects can only happen by consent of the sufferers and the affected, the government is proceeding in full haste to develop a law for a typical TRC under the pretense of this model without consulting the victims’ families,” APS said in a statement.
It also said the families of the victims have unambiguously told Judge Moseneke that they are against the release of the suspects adding that joint and individual actions of Judge Moseneke and the government of Lesotho are overreaching and unilateral.
“… therefore in contravention of the agreed principles of the National Reforms which require under a statute of parliament that the Reforms be implemented by an institution in shape with the National Reforms Authority (NRA), and that they be transparent and inclusive,” APS said.
APS is a justice and human rights association formed by peers and comrades of Lieutrenant General Maaparankoe Mahao who was brutally slain in 2015.
Just this week, families of the slain former army commander Mahao and counterparts condemned Judge Moseneke for proposing transitional justice, which they said compromises the facilitation justice which he was assigned to do.
The families said they had hoped to get closure ever since SADC stepped in to try and bring about justice but that, unfortunately, has not come to pass.
They further stated that their expectation was that Moseneke would fight for the implementation of SADC decisions that suggested that all suspects be taken to the courts of law and allow justice to take its course.
Unfortunately, they said, Justice Moseneke seems to be taking his own path, which they allege is politically influenced.
“Justice Moseneke’s interest appears to be on the political perpetrators and not the victims, which is a pure and direct violation of United Nations (UN) Transitional Justice Policy whose main focus is the victims.”
They argued that Moseneke’s transitional justice idea is nothing but personal interest which do not serve the interests of the victims and the nation as a whole.
On the other hand, the family of Brigadier Matjota Ramotšekhoane has welcomed the proposed TJC saying it will help them to ascertain the truth of what happened during past conflicts.
The family lost Ramotšekhoane following the military coup which took place in 1986. He is said to have died in custody but the family says it still has not received justice.
The family said it is ready to make submissions to the commission.