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Large turn-out for Lesotho National Sensitization Seminar

Tuesday, 01 September 2015 00:00

Arusha, 14 July, 2015:   Over 80 stakeholders from judiciary, academia, media, human rights,

ministries, security, civil society, parliament, lawyers and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), among others, attended a one-day national sensitization seminar on the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights which was organized in collaboration with the Kingdom of Lesotho in Maseru last week.

The participants lauded the work and activities of the African Court and called for more vigorous efforts to reach out to the larger audience on the continent.

‘’The Court has indeed become the voice of voiceless,’’ said Lesotho’s  Minister for Law, Constitutional Affairs and Human Rights, Hon. Motlalentoa Letsosa (MP) during his opening remarks, but added that more efforts were needed to make it to become a truly continental human rights court.

He exhorted for strong political will from African States to enable the Court to fulfil its mandate.

The Lesotho government, he assured, was committed to continuing to work towards a conducive human rights environment that demonstrated a democratic society.

‘’We will continue to value the citizens that we represent and enlighten them through civil education about their rights and obligations in democracy,’’ said Hon. Letsosa.

According to the Minister, Lesotho has already developed the Human Rights Commission Bill and would be presented to Cabinet soon.

The President of the Law Society of Lesotho, Advocate Shale Shale, called for speedy deposit of the Declaration under Article 34(6) to enable NGOs and individuals direct access to the Court.

The leader of the African Court delegation and a former President, Hon. Justice Gérard Niyungeko, said that the effectiveness of the Court cannot be realized without adequate knowledge within which it operates and the preconditions and procedures for accessing it.

‘’The objectives of the national sensitization seminar are to inform stakeholders about the existence of the Court, its activities, the various ways of getting access and the procedure before it,’’ Justice Niyungeko remarked in his opening statement.

He also thanked the German International Cooperation (GIZ) for the support it gave for the realization of the Lesotho national sensitization seminar.

During the visit, the African Court delegation, which included  Hon. Justice Duncan Tambala, Hon. Justice Angelo Matusse and Registry staff,  paid courtesy calls to the Prime Minister Dr Pakalitha Bethuel Mosisili; the Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Relations Hon.Tlohang Sekhamane; Minister for Law, Constitutional Affairs and Human Rights Hon. Motlalentoa Letsosa; Minister for Justice and Correctional Service Hon. Moeketse Malebo and; President of the Senate Hon. Principal Chief Seeiso Bereng Seeiso.

The courtesy calls also included visits to the Chief Justice Her Ladyship Justice Nthomeng Majara; Ombudsman Adv. Leshele Thoahlane KC; President of the Law Society Adv. Shale Shale and; the Director of Investigations in the Police Complaints Authority.

Justice Niyungeko encouraged the Kingdom of Lesotho to make the Declaration to enable individuals and NGOs access the Court. He also invited the Lesotho government to consider utilizing the advisory jurisdiction of the Court to request for advisory opinion during its process of constitutional and judicial reforms in areas of human and peoples’ rights.


NOTES FOR EDITORS

The Kingdom of Lesotho ratified the Protocol establishing the Court on 28 October 2003 but has yet to make the required Declaration under Article 34(6).

Twenty eight (28) AU countries have ratified but only seven (7) of them have made the Declaration. The seven are: Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mali, Malawi, Rwanda and Tanzania.

Since December 2010, the Court has carried out continent-wide promotion programmes which have so far seen it hold 23 sensitization visits and 9 regional and continental seminars and conferences.
The main objective of the sensitization visits is to enhance the protection of human rights in Africa. Specific objectives include raising public awareness about the Court; encouraging the ratification of the Protocol and the deposit of the Declaration under Article 34(6) of the Protocol sensitizing would-be applicants on how to access the Court and the procedures before the Court; encouraging the public to utilize the Court in settling human rights disputes and encouraging the utilization of the Court to render advisory opinions.
Further information can be obtained from the Court’s website at www.african-court.org
Captions:
1.    Delegates in group picture with the Guest of Honour Lesotho’s Minister for Law, Constitutional Affairs and Human Rights, Hon. Motlalentoa Letsosa (front row with folded hands). On his right is leader of the African Court delegation, Hon. Justice Gérard Niyungeko.
2.    Some of the delegates to the Seminar at the Maseru Sun Hotel

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