Ramatšella takes Thabane to the ICC

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’Marafaele Mohloboli

OUTSPOKEN opposition politician Bokang Ramatšella says he is in constant touch with the International Criminal Court (ICC) which he claims is already investigating human rights violations in Lesotho at his behest.

Mr Ramatšella said he had written to the ICC demanding that it investigates what he said were “appalling state-sponsored crimes against humanity” in Lesotho.

He specifically called for the prosecution of Prime Minister Thomas Thabane, former Police and Public Safety minister ’Mampho Mokhele and the Commissioner of Police, Holomo Molibeli, for the alleged human rights violations. The Prime Minister’s Press Attaché, Thabo Thakalekoala, this week told the Lesotho Times that the government had not received a copy of Mr Ramatšella’s letter to the ICC.

However, Mr Thakalekoala said the premier would present himself before the ICC should he be summoned to answer charges relating to the alleged human rights violations.

Mr Ramatšella this week told the Lesotho Times that the ICC had acknowledged receipt of his 29 March 2019 letter and even visited the country to investigate his concerns.

“The ICC acknowledged receipt of my letter last month, they phoned me and even came to Lesotho but they had to keep a low profile,” Mr Ramatšella said.

“I met with them and they are conducting their own investigations. They assured me that they are working on the submissions that I made but it might take longer than I anticipated for them to act because they have to conduct thorough investigations.

“I also copied my letter to the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), the United States embassy, the European Union and local human rights organisations and I will patiently wait for justice to be done. Once the investigations have been completed the summons shall be served on the government.”

The three and a half-page letter titled ‘Submissions for investigation of crimes against humanity in the Kingdom of Lesotho’ is addressed to the Office of the Prosecutor in The Hague, Netherlands.

“We feel obliged to make this submission to express grave concern in respect of the appalling state-sponsored crimes against humanity which are taking place in the Kingdom of Lesotho.

“This submission relates to our humble call to the court to investigate and prosecute the prime minister of Lesotho, Dr Thomas Thabane, his (then) Minister of Police, Ms ’Mampho Mokhele, and the Commissioner of Police, Holomo Molibeli, and all those allegedly involved in these monstrous crimes.

“The call for the investigation and prosecution relates to their individual criminal responsibility and culpability in the commission of crimes against humanity in Lesotho.

“It is our conviction that these crimes constitute serious crimes of concern to the international community. There has been public condemnation of police brutality and the culture of impunity in Lesotho by local and international human rights organisations.

“The government is unwilling to carry out investigations even though perpetrators of these unspeakable crimes are well-known police officers. In the absence of local remedies, we therefore call for the ICC’s intervention because we strongly believe that crimes against humanity are not only an antithesis to the rule of law in the Lesotho, but are also an abominable act in the entire civilised world.”

Mr Ramatšella also alleged that the prime minister had on several occasions made “toxic pronouncements in the Lesotho national assembly immediately after his assumption of power to the effect that police should torture suspects when people are not in sight”.

“By so doing Dr Thabane effectively glorified and institutionalised the use of torture by the police as a key instrument and means to extract confessions from suspects. Thereafter, the Lesotho police went on a killing spree and rampant torture of suspects.”

Mr Ramatšella said that Ms Mokhele and Commissioner Molibeli should be prosecuted for allegedly carrying out Dr Thabane’s orders to “assemble a torture squad under the pretext of dealing with unresolved crimes which were committed during the previous coalition government (of Dr Pakalitha Mosisili).

“This squad earned notoriety for becoming a law unto themselves, severely torturing suspects thereby transforming the police headquarters into a torture camp.”

Contacted for comment, Mr Thakalekoala, said the government had not received a copy of Mr Ramatšella’s letter and they had only learnt about it through unofficial channels.

“We learnt that such a letter had been written but we were also surprised to learn that it had been delivered to the SAHRC instead of the ICC as addressed.

“We also learnt from one website that the SAHRC replied by saying that the matter was not within its jurisdiction.

“However, we are still awaiting the summons from The Hague and should they come at all and the prime minister is indicted, we shall honour the summons (to appear before the court),” Mr Thakalekoala said this week.

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