government: parliamentary constitutional monarchy
state of civil and political rights: Partly free
constitution: 2 April 1993
legal system: based on English, Roman-Dutch law, judicial review of legislative acts in High Court and Court of Appeal
legislative system: bicameral Parliament consists of the Senate and the Assembly
judicial system: High Court, Court of Appeal, Magistrate's Court, tribunals based on traditional practices
religion: Christian 80%, indigenous beliefs 20%
year of last executions: 25-11-1995
death sentences: 0
international treaties on human rights and the death penalty:
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
1st Optional Protocol to the Covenant
Convention on the Rights of the Child
Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
Statute of the International Criminal Court (which excludes the death penalty)
Murder, rape and treason are capital crimes. In 1996 the death penalty was reinstated under military law.
Lesotho is a constitutional monarchy with King Letsie III as Head of State. Under the Constitution, the King fills a ceremonial role, has no executive authority, and is proscribed from actively taking part in political initiatives.
Unrest followed the 1998 elections deemed acceptable by observers, but contested by the opposition. Neighbouring countries intervened to quell it, and a new electoral system to make parliament more representative was formulated. In May 2002 further parliamentary elections were held, which international observers declared to be free and fair. The last elections were on 3 June 2017.
The last execution took place on November 25, 1995. Last death sentences were imposed by the courts in 1996 on four accused, three of whom were tried separately and sentenced to death for the same murder. The death penalty on women
Section 299 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act of 1981 excludes pregnant women from execution. Moreover, the Penal Code specifically requires that a lesser sentence be applied to women convicted of murder if they are pregnant at the time of sentence. This conforms with Lesotho’s international obligations as a state party to the ICCPR and the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, which prohibit the execution of pregnant women.
According to deathpenaltyworldwide.org, if no law specifically excludes women with small children from execution, Lesotho has acceded to the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, which prohibits the execution of nursing women.
In 2015, Lesotho was reviewed under UPR and did not accept recommendations on the abolition of the death penalty and/or ratify the Second Optional Protocol.
On December 18 2014, Lesotho was absent on the Resolution on a Moratorium on the Use of the Death Penalty at the UN General Assembly. It abstained in 2012, 2010, 2008 and 2007.
On December 19, 2016 Lesotho abstained.