LOCAL civil society organisations (CSOs) have condemned the violation of the human rights of two Koalabata toddlers who were subjected to the trauma of witnessing their mother’s gruesome killing a fortnight ago.
The 44-year-old woman who was allegedly killed by her former lover and two accomplices, was buried last weekend.
The woman was killed in cold blood in the presence of her three-year-old child while the other older female child was held hostage in the other room.
The older chiId had to endure physical pain and trauma after she was allegedly stifled with a pillow and locked up in her bedroom to prevent her from screaming for help.
In additional to the physical and psychological trauma, the toddlers were deprived of their rights of association with their mother as enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Part of article 7 of the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child states that “children also have the right to know their parents and, as far as possible, to be cared for by them” and article 16 states that children should be protected from “attacks against their way of life, their good name, their family and their home”.
Letsema Child Rights Network, an umbrella body of CSOs that advocate and provide services aimed at enhancing children’s yesterday condemned the incident, saying that the two toddlers and their family must be given support.
Letsema Child Rights Network representative, Itumeleng Kimane said it was imperative for CSOs to move swiftly to provide support to children whenever such incidents occurred.
“However, it is not all the time that children get support,” Dr Kimane said, adding they were guided by the Ministry of Social Development on such matters as they were mandated with the protection of children’s rights in Lesotho.
For her part, child rights activist ‘Malineo Motsepe said there was need to capacitate CSOs to enable them to offer immediate support to children.
Ms Motsepe said the Koalabata and Sekameng areas had recorded an increase in the number of killings.
“We need to ensure that every community has a child protection committee which will help advocate and protect rights of the area, thus empowering children to protect themselves by shouting for help,” Ms Motsepe said.
The two women were responding to media questions during a press briefing on the recent 29th Ordinary Session of the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC) hosted by Lesotho.
The session was also aimed at assessing Lesotho’s readiness to permanently host the ACERWC secretariat. Lesotho faces competition from Sudan to host the secretariat.
Dr Kimane said local child rights CSOs were invited to the 29th ordinary ACERWC session and this was a great opportunity for them to learn from the presentations and deliberations that took place.
“One of the key issues that occupied a central place throughout the deliberations of the 29th ACERWC ordinary session was coordination. Lesotho has had its own challenges concerning coordination among CSOs that work with and for children’s rights.
“But for a while now, the Letsema Network has been one of the organisations striving to create an environment where all child rights CSOs in Lesotho would stand coordinated in their efforts to implement the ACRWC while at the same time ensuring that CSOs avoid duplicating each other’s efforts, wasting scanty resources and entering into unnecessary competition instead of delivering quality services for the benefit of all children in Lesotho,” Dr Kimane said.
She also revealed that Letsema recently received the ‘Most Improved Member’ award at the Child Rights Network of Southern Africa (CRNSA) regional meeting in Johannesburg on 11 May.
She said the award was in recognition of Letsema’s role in leadership and coordination in children’s rights advocacy.
For his part, United Nations Child Fund (UNICEF) chief social policy Mohammed Islam said they were encouraged by the milestones which had been collectively achieved by the Social Development Ministry, CRINSA, Sentebele and UNICEF.
“As you are all well-aware, coordination is key to an effective and functional child protection system. Disjointed and uncoordinated programming may not make much of a positive impact on the lives of vulnerable children and their families,” Mr Islam said.