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APO International

Lesotho: Authorities must investigate torture of detainees at Maseru correctional institution

todayMarch 27, 2024 1

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Responding to recent findings by the Lesotho Ombudsman which exposed a disturbing pattern of human rights violations, including torture, excessive use of force and denial of medical care to detainees at Maseru Correctional Centre Institution (MCCI), Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East and Southern Africa, Vongai Chikwanda, said:

“The Ombudsman’s report, released on March 19, confirms the extent of unacceptable abuse suffered by inmates at MCCI, where correctional officers, including recruits, were found to have colluded to justify their actions, while senior officers turned a blind eye to the misconduct, indicative of a deeply ingrained culture of impunity within the institution.

“Lesotho authorities must initiate a prompt, independent, impartial, transparent and effective investigation into the alleged acts of torture and abuse inflicted upon detainees. Authorities must bring suspected perpetrators to justice in fair trials and provide access to justice and effective remedies to victims.”

“The Minister of Law and Justice, as well the Commissioner of Correctional Services must ensure accountability by holding those suspected to be responsible for the abuses to account and taking concrete steps to reform the country’s correctional system to ensure that it upholds international human rights standards including by revising laws and regulations governing detention, improving conditions of confinement, and promoting a culture of respect for human rights among correctional staff.

“Authorities must also ensure the eight named detainees and others held at Maseru Centre Correctional Institution are protected from torture by taking immediate steps to implement the recommendations put forth by the Office of the Ombudsman.”

Background

On December 22, 2023, detainees at MCCI were subjected to brutal beatings by officers from the Lesotho Correctional Services (LCS), resulting in visible injuries. The Ombudsman’s report established that recruits from the LCS training facility abused their power while some of the officers were unresponsive and derelict in their duty, as inmates were beaten during a routine search operation.

Detainees’ relatives sought justice through Maseru Court, highlighting the unlawful imposition of corporal punishment and the denial of visitation rights.

The Ombudsman report follows investigations carried out in January 2024.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Amnesty International.

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