Target: Tšeliso Mokhosi, Minister of Defense and National Security of Lesotho
Goal: Ensure a fair trial for 23 soldiers accused of mutiny.
Twenty-three soldiers perceived to be loyal to Lieutenant-General Maaparankoe Mahao, the former head of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF), have been arrested and charged with mutiny. Twenty-one soldiers have been held in solitary confinement for over a month and many allege that their testimonies have been obtained through torture. Given their treatment thus far, it is likely they will not receive a fair trial. Sign the petition and demand that the South African country of Lesotho respect international human rights and fair trial standards.
Solitary confinement in excess of 15 days is considered inhumane treatment by international human rights groups, making the 21 soldiers victims of human rights violations. Furthermore, their allegations of torture have not been adequately investigated. They have been prevented from communicating with their lawyers and, when access is granted, it is not private and only lasts for about 20 minutes. The lawyers defending the soldiers have also faced harassment, intimidation, and death threats.
The soldiers’ challenges to their imprisonment were considered favorably by the high court, which essentially ordered that the soldiers be allowed out on bail. The LDF has thus far failed to comply with the order.
It is important that all those accused of criminal behavior, no matter what the crime, be guaranteed access to legal representation and a fair trial. Furthermore, they must be protected from torture and ill-treatment. Sign the petition and demand that Lesotho respect the human rights of its soldiers.
Dear Minister Mokhosi,
I am writing to express my concern over the treatment of 23 soldiers of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) who have been arrested and charged with mutiny. They have already been subjected to torture, ill-treatment, and other human rights violations, and I fear they will be sentenced to death. I urge you to ensure that the soldiers’ trial adheres to international fair trial standards and that all allegations of torture are investigated and addressed.
Of the 23 soldiers arrested and charged in this incident, 21 have been held in solitary confinement for over a month. International human rights standards decree that any solitary confinement longer than 15 days constitutes cruel and inhumane punishment. Many allege that their testimonies were obtained through torture. The men have been prevented from having access to their lawyers and, when they are granted access, it is only for non-private, 20-minute-long sessions. Given this treatment, it seems likely that the soldiers will not receive a fair trial. Furthermore, an order from the High Court to release the men on open arrest has not been honored by the LDF.
I therefore urge you to ensure that justice is done. Remove the soldiers from solitary confinement, release them on open arrest as ordered, thoroughly investigate and address all allegations of torture, and ensure that their trial adheres to international fair trial standards.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: BohemianDolls