The Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria coordinated a state report drafting workshop in collaboration with Ministry of Law and Constitutional Affairs, Lesotho from 31 July to 4 August 2017. The workshop brought together officials from different Government departments and civil society organisations pivotal to the drafting of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (African Charter) and the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol).
The Kingdom of Lesotho ratified the African Charter in 1991 and the Maputo Protocol in 2004. However, it has only submitted one report to the African Commission under the African Charter in 2000 which covered the period from 1991 to 2000 and has not complied with its reporting obligations ever since. Lesotho has similarly not submitted any report under the Maputo Protocol according to article 62 of the African Charter and article 26 (1) of the Maputo Protocol.
State parties are nonetheless obligated to submit state reports every two years from the time of the ratification of the treaty. Consequently, both the organizers and participants of the workshop agreed that the drafting workshop was timely and very essential in getting Lesotho on track with its reporting obligation especially following the initial training that took place in April 2017 also organised by the Women’s Rights unit, Centre for Human Rights to enhance the knowledge of state officers on the nuts and bolts of the state reporting process.
The workshop itself was divided into two sessions, the first few days focused on drafting the Maputo Protocol under five thematic groups (Equality and Non-discrimination; Protection of women from violence; Rights relating to marriage; Health and reproductive rights and the Rights of specially protected women). The last two days, participants focused on research and working on substantive articles under the African Charter, broken into four thematic groups (Civil and political rights; Economic, social and cultural rights; Collective rights and Institutional measures taken by the Government).
Based on progress at the workshop and commitment to the report writing process by the different stakeholders, Lesotho plans to submit its report on the African Charter and the Maputo Protocol at the First Ordinary Session of the African Commission in 2018. This will be a very welcome development from the Kingdom of Lesotho in ensuring constructive engagement with the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights (ACHPR) towards advancing the rights of the Basotho people, especially women and girls.