Journalist shot in Lesotho


Respect for freedom of expression has recently been severely undermined in Lesotho, following blatant attacks on journalists, including the shooting of one reporter. On 9th July, Lloyd Mutungamiri, an editor at the Lesotho Times, was shot in the face and gravely injured. It was suspected that he was shot by the military in reaction to a Lesotho Times report that the Army Commander Tlali Kamoli was negotiating a R40 million (almost $3 million) exit package with the government. On the day the article appeared in the newspaper the editor and reporter were summoned to a police station and forced to reveal their sources - a clear violation of one of the basic tenets of press freedom. Keiso Mohloboli, the journalist who wrote the story, was forced into exile in South Africa while the publisher of the newspaper Basildon Peta was charged with criminal defamation for a satirical article referring to Kamoli. 

A few days before these events, on 28th July Prime Minister Mosisili had lashed out at the media and civil society for causing "confusion" in the country's security sector. He was speaking at a Southern African Development Community (SADC) meeting organised to find solutions to the tense security situation in Lesotho.

Peaceful Assembly

On 28th July, pro-government demonstrators threatened to stage a protest to demand the removal of the United States Ambassador to Lesotho for what they regard as interfering in the internal affairs of the country. Given that the protestors' demands align with the views of the government, the group has not been barred from holding the protest, nor have they received any threats or had stringent conditions imposed by the authorities. By contrast, in May 2016, police blocked a planned march by the Alliance for Non State Actors, only to later give approval accompanied by very stringent requirements.