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. . . Leaders ride on citizens’ ignorance

by Sunday Express
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tekaneBongiwe Zihlangu

MASERU — The authorities’ fear of seeing Lesotho’s citizens enjoying their full human rights accounts for the country’s delay or unwillingness to sign the proclamation of African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (AfCHPR), declaring the competence of the African Court on People and Human Rights, says top local lawyer.

Advocate Tekane Maqakachane told the Sunday Express yesterday that his view, based on personal observation, was that like the majority of African countries, Lesotho will not readily sign the declaration despite ratifying the AfCHPR protocol on the establishment of the court as many countries would “rather take advantage of citizens’ ignorance to their human rights”.

“Most countries would not want their masses to fully enjoy their rights. They will not operationalise them by promulgating the necessary laws. They would rather take advantage of people’s ignorance to their rights,” Maqakachane said.

According to Maqakachane, the ratification of protocols and charters emanated from international pressure, with countries not finding it necessary or feeling obliged to domesticate them.

“Even in the presence of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), such bodies do not have enough influence to push the state to sign proclamations and infuse them into domestic laws,” Maqakachane said.

However, Maqakachane said, by ratifying protocols and charters countries allow their citizens to hold them accountable if they are prejudiced and their basic human rights are violated.

“Therefore, once countries ratify protocols, they are obligated to perform in a certain way. Their citizens also now have a platform to take their cases further having exhausted all possible local remedies,” Maqakachane said.

But, Maqakachane warned, countries were also clever enough to note that even if citizens attempted to drag them to international courts such as the International Criminal Court (ICC), they ought to have exhausted all possible platforms “before their cases can be looked into”.

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