MASERU — If Justice Mochoroane Peter Mofokeng was still alive he would be appalled by the human rights violations perpetrated against women and children today.
This was the message delivered on Thursday night by Phakiso Mochochoko, a Mosotho who heads the Jurisdiction, Complementarity and Cooperation Division in the office of the prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague.
Mochochoko was the guest speaker at the 10th Justice M.P Mofokeng Memorial Lecture held at Lesotho Sun on Thursday.
His theme was Individual Accountability for serious crimes: the advent of international criminal
“Justice Mofokeng would have been appalled at the abuse of human rights today in the face of rapes, killings and other massacres,” Mochochoko said.
“He would not be on the side of criminals and would be on the side of victims.”
Mochochoko said the ICC, which was established in 1994, was beginning to find its feet on the international arena in holding to account people charged with human rights violations.
Mochochoko also dismissed as unfounded claims that the ICC was created to target African leaders for prosecution.
Mochochoko said although the ICC was still relatively new it had had an impact in the discharge of justice by prosecuting human rights violators.
For instance, he said the ICC pushed for negotiations between the Ugandan government of President Yoweri Museveni and the Lord’s Resistance Army rebels who were mercilessly killing women and children.
Mochochoko also called upon the Law Society of Lesotho to be prepared to defend “criminals in case criminals might be here in Lesotho”.
“Every defendant, no matter how wicked, has a right to fair trial,” Mochochoko said.
Mochochoko, who holds a BA Law and LLB degrees from the National University of Lesotho, practised law as an attorney in Lesotho from 1984-92.
He also worked as a trainer and co-ordinator for human rights non-governmental organisations (NGOs) OM South Africa.
Speaking at the same occasion, Advocate Kelebone Maope commended the law society for compiling the book.
Maope however slammed judges for being sensitive to the issue of judicial independence without addressing the issue of accountability by judges.
“Judicial independence must be accompanied by accountability, but they talk less about accountability,” Maope said.
“We see more judges being appointed (to the bench) but the number of cases is still increasing,” he said.
He wondered whether current judges are working as hard enough as their forbearers in the 1970s to deal with the mounting cases in the courts.
Maope also called for the setting up of a legal training school in Lesotho to show graduates and law students how the work is done.
He died in 1986.