Lesotho High Court ruling: criminal defamation is unconstitutional

Expression

On 21st May 2018, the High Court of Lesotho declared the offense of criminal defamation as unconstitutional. The case was brought before the High Court by Basildon Peta, journalist for the newspaper Lesotho Times, who was charged with criminal defamation and crimen injuria for a satirical column he wrote in June 2016. The High Court, who sits as the Constitutional Court, ruled that the offence of criminal defamation leads to self-censorship, and is an obstacle to an informed public.  Anneke Meerkotter, Litigation Director of the Southern Africa Litigation Center said in a press statement

"We commend the Lesotho Constitutional Court bench for its brave decision, which makes a significant contribution to freedom of expression jurisprudence in the region. We are concerned by the ongoing use of criminal defamation laws against journalists and human rights defenders and hope that this decision will also send a message to other governments to reform their laws.”