Lesotho - Justice Sector and the Rule of Law

This detailed study of the justice sector and the rule of law in Lesotho makes a valuable contribution to the process of democratisation in the country by providing useful insights into the justice sector for the benefit of policy-makers, advocates and, above all, the people of Lesotho themselves.

May 28th, 2013

This detailed study of the justice sector and the rule of law in Lesotho makes a valuable contribution to the process of democratisation in the country by providing useful insights into the justice sector for the benefit of policy-makers, advocates and, above all, the people of Lesotho themselves.

Produced by the (AfriMAP) and OSISA, the report assesses Lesotho’s justice sector with a view to pointing out ways in which the sector promotes the attainment of the rule of law ideal. The main objectives of the study were to document the main institutional issues pertaining to independence of the judiciary; evaluate the usefulness of the justice system to ordinary citizens; and make necessary recommendations to the participating government.

The study acknowledges the various reforms in the sector that have been implemented in the recent past with a view to improving the quality of the administration of justice and enforcement of the rule of law in Lesotho. At the same time, the study highlights specific areas in which further reforms are required if the legal and policy framework is to meet constitutional standards as well as international norms.

In particular, the study identifies some of the issues that still need to be addressed, including:

  • The backlog in domestication of, and reporting on, international human rights treaties;
  • Inconsistencies between some laws in Lesotho and international human rights norms;
  • Limited separation of powers;
  • Government non-compliance with compensatory court orders;
  • Limited availability of legal information;
  • Budgetary constraints;
  • Incomplete sector-wide strategy and planning;
  • Poor record-keeping;
  • Structural impediments to judicial independence;
  • Limited accountability of the DPP for delayed prosecutions;
  • Low policing skills;
  • Unsatisfactory crime statistics;
  • Limited independence of the mechanism for handling complaints against the police;
  • Poor prison conditions;
  • Inequalities in access to justice;
  • Limited physical presence of justice institutions across the country;
  • Prohibitive cost of legal services; and
  • Gaps in the coordination of development assistance and its alignment to national priorities.

Advocacy for reforms to address the challenges listed above must recognise the interdependence of some of the challenges and the importance of linking the reforms to the country’s development agenda and the sustainability of the reforms.

Advocacy groups must also learn lessons from countries that are comparable with Lesotho, both in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in particular and on the continent in general.

This report is part of a series of three studies on Lesotho to be published by AfriMAP and OSISA. The others look at , and the .

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