Appeal for Victims centred approach for transitional justice process

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By Mamello Mosaefane

The National Reforms Authority (NRA) discussions at a consultation forum on the path towards building sustainable peace, national unity, and reconciliation emphasized the need for a victim’s centered approach for Lesotho’s transitional justice process.

The forum was aimed at engaging multi-stakeholders, political leaders, and victims to guide the National Reforms Authority on how to chart the country’s peace, unity and reconciliation architecture.

Discussions by various stakeholders recommended victims should play a key role as they suffered at the hands of perpetrators of human rights violations.

The forum also argued that victims need to heal more than any other stakeholders hence a need for an approach that would advance their interest more than those of any other group as the country starts its transitional justice program.

The forum said a victim is defined as a person who has been harmed, injured, or killed as a result of a crime, accident, or other event or action as well as having their human rights violated.

But the NRA is yet to expand on its current definition of who victims are through consultations with the public.

The NRA is also yet to draw the scope in which to focus selection of victims who shall be covered in the Peace, National Unity, and Reconciliation council that will be formed to implement the transitional justice process.

NRA’s decision to centralize victims in this process has become an answer to the prayers of the widow of slain Lieutenant General Maaprankoe Mahao, ‘Mamphanya Mahao.

She told the gathered people at the forum that victims should be granted a voice on decisions on strategies to be implemented to achieve the desired peace, national unity, and reconciliation as they are directly affected and know what will heal them as victims.

Speaking on behalf of the absent SADC facilitator to Lesotho retired chief justice Moseneke, Enver Surty also emphasized the importance of engaging victims in the preparation for transitional justice because of the trauma and suffering they endured.

“Victims demand a front role in the Transitional justice,” Surty said.

According to the facilitator on suitable Transitional Mechanism for the process to be followed in Lesotho, Dr Lipalesa Mathe, transitional justice recognizes victims’ dignity as citizens with rights, hence they should play a huge role in paving the desired future of transitional justice.

Speaking on behalf of other victims, Mosebetsi Mapetla told the forum that, it is their wish as victims to see justice being served by the courts of law, and victims being given an opportunity to be the ones to decide on forgiving those who wronged them, should they be found guilty.

Mapetla said the courts of law have shown reluctance, with some of the victims having almost 40 years without knowing what happened to their loved ones.

With the pace at which things are going, Mapetla said it is possible that those that are seeking justice might wait for 40 years as well.

Mapetla also said it is their wish to see victims compensated while they wait for justice to be served.

“The people who commit crimes were sent by others. It is therefore important to have those people revealed in order to get to the root of crimes committed,” Mapetla said.

Mepetla added, “if those that send them are left behind, they will continue using other people to fight their battle knowing they will hide behind them and not be charged”.

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