EmergencyA. Nature and description of emergency COVID-19 measures

Declaration of a national state of disaster/ states of emergency (Regulations) and derogation and limitations of rights

The Former Prime Minister of Lesotho Thomas Motsoahae Thabane first addressed the nation on 12 March 2020. In his address he highlighted the spread of COVID 19 worldwide and that Basotho should take precautions and practice clean hygiene as per the World Health Organisation guidelines. He further assured the nation that, the government of Lesotho and China are currently engaged in talks about Basotho nationals who are in China. 

In his speech, he announced the immediate suspension of the civil servant's international travel except for the essential travel which should be approved by the government. The suspension of hosting any international meetings or conferences in Lesotho, the gathering of people in large numbers like churches and funerals. He furthermore announced that the government will form a COVID National Command Centre. 

His second address to the Nation was on 18 March 2020where he announced that the government has decided to declare the state of emergency. At this point Lesotho had not reported any COVID case. In his address he announced that schools should close, the people who enter the country will be subjected to a COVID test or symptoms. All people entering the country will be subjected to a 14 days quarantine in identified facilities. Access to Lesotho was through a few borders that the government of South Africa had kept open after they closed their borders. As a way to fight this disease business owners were urged to provide protective equipment to their staff and ensure that there is social distancing at the place of work. Visitors to correctional services will also be limited. On 27 March the Declaration of COVID 19 State of Emergency Notice 2020 was gazetted and was to apply retrospectively as of 18 March 2020.

On 25 March the Prime Minister addressed the nation on reediness of Lesotho to fight COVID1919. The government of Lesotho had set aside funds to fight the pandemic, a curfew from 29 March to 29 April was also announced and people were not allowed to leave their districts, only essential services were allowed and the country was completely under lockdown.

DemocracyB. Democracy-related issues arising from COVID-19 responses of states

  • Elections 
    Lesotho is not due for elections until 2022 therefore at this stage COVID is not a threat to elections.

  • Executive 
    The COVID Command Centre through the government of Lesotho set aside funds to assist Basotho in diaspora (South Africa in this case) with food parcel to the value of 4 Million Maluti. The food parcels distribution was to be implemented through the Lesotho High Commission and Consulates in South Africa.

    Furthermore, the Ministry of Health was to arrange for distribution of medication (especially ARVs) for Basotho who were in South Africa.

  • Parliament
    Lesotho is one of the country which is known for political instability. The Former Prime Minister Thomas Motsoahae Thabane claimed that there were members of some political parties who were using the pandemic to cause political instability The Prime Minister also attempted to prorogue parliament.  President Cyril Ramaphoza sent a special envoy to Lesotho to address the brewing political tension.

  • Judiciary (role of courts; decided cases related to COVID-19)
    There were no reported cases relating to COVID 19 in Lesotho.

  • Transparency/ access to information 
    Most information is available on the government’s website.

  •  Abuse by law enforcement agents/exacerbation of authoritarian tendencies/power grabs
    There have been reported incidents of abuse by the military. The Prime Minister together with the head of the military apologised for the heavy-handedness of the military and assured the nation that the military have been reprimanded for their behaviour.

  • Democratic reform

  • Others 

Human RightsC. Human rights-related issues arising from COVID-19 responses of states

  • Right to health (including infrastructure, access to testing)
    Lesotho health sector and infrastructure has been very poor even before the pandemic. Lesotho was one of the last countries to get a confirmed positive test, and it was confirmed on 13 May. This was two months after South Africa registered patient Zero, but Lesotho was far from being prepared and still is to handle the pandemic. The first hard lock down was implemented a week after South Africa implemented lockdown. One would have thought that Lesotho was getting ready and preparing facilities and equipment to treat patients when COVID hit Lesotho. Up to date, there are only two ICU COVID-19 beds in the entire country.

  •  Right to housing (including homelessness, informal settlements, slums, shacks) 
    Lesotho did not provide any housing to homeless people.

  •  Right to water and sanitation
    As much as water is called the gold or diamond of Lesotho more than 60 percent of the population does not have access to running water. Much has not been done to improve access to water and sanitation in Lesotho.

  • Right to food/ nutrition and other socio-economic rights 
    15 million  Maluti was set aside for food parcels for vulnerable people in Lesotho. The government also set aside 40 million Maluti to assist the factory workers in Lesotho 

  • Economic impact/ impact small business/ employment social security networks

  • Women (including domestic violence)

  • Children (including education) 

  • Persons with disabilities 

  • LGBTI persons 

  • Indigenous persons

  • Migrants

  • Persons deprived of their liberty (persons in incarceration; police detention)

  • Right to life and bodily security (arrests; deaths as result of lockdown)

  • Freedom of assembly

  • Freedom of movement
    Freedom of movement was affected by COVID 19 in Lesotho. This was as a result of the state of emergency that was implemented. Basotho were also not able to travel to South Africa due to the closure of the South African borders. The South African government only allowed sick people to travel to South Africa and such people should be critically ill and transported by an ambulance.

  •  Freedom of expression/ access to information/ privacy/digital rights

  • Others

SummaryD. Summary (Analysis, Trends)



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