Maseru – The Editors’ Forum of Lesotho (EFL), supported by the Southern Africa Editors Forum (SAEF), has condemned the Government of Lesotho for its attempt to undermine citizens’ right under the proposed cyber crime Bill.
While governments are obligated under international human rights law to protect their citizens and online users from harmful criminal activities carried out on the internet, the editors caution the Bill in its current state could also erode citizens rights.
The editors are displeased with the Computer Crime and Cyber Bill of 2021 presentation of March 23 and the recent gazetting of The Communications (Subscriber Identity Module and Device Registration) Regulations 2021.
In their joint statement, they are of the view that the responses by the Lesotho Government to cyber crime are uneven and could undermine human rights.
“…we believe the efforts to address it need to protect and not undermine the citizens’ rights and strongly oppose the Lesotho government’s overboard and aggressive cybercrime laws that threaten people’s rights,” the letter read.
The laws have the potential to violate people’s rights, particularly the right to freedom of expression and association. They stressed that laws of this nature could also be used improperly to persecute journalists, human rights defenders, technologists, opposition politicians, lawyers, religious reformers and artistes.
SAEF and its chapter EFL therefore plead to the government of Lesotho to prioritise the restructuring of these laws to conform with international human rights.
They emphasised that the process should be open and transparent, and all relevant stakeholders should be consulted.