MISA Lesotho has learned with grave concern about the shooting of the Newsday newspaper journalist Ntsoaki Motaung by members of the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) during the youth protest dubbed #BachaShutDown on Friday November 6th 2020.
The Institute further observed with disappointment about the arrests of other journalists who were on duty during the fateful Friday by the police. MISA Lesotho wishes to categorically condemn acts of police brutality and the harassment of journalists by the LMPS members during the protest.
MISA Lesotho has since requested the Commissioner of Police to publicly provide an account of events of Friday November 6th 2020, particularly relating to the role played by the members of LMPS manning the youth protest.
In a letter dated November 9th 2020, MISA Lesotho has implored the Commissioner to make the public statement within seven (7) days of receipt of the correspondence by his office, lest it was by authority of the Commissioner of Police that the LMPS members victimized the journalists on duty on Friday November 6th 2020.
MISA Lesotho notes with disappointment in observance of growing rate of police brutality characterized with journalists being treated like criminals by the LMPS. At this day and age, the Institute expected the LMPS to be professional and observant of role of journalists. What happened on Friday can only be attributed to an attempt by the LMPS to intimidate journalists and silence the media.
MISA Lesotho has since brought to attention of the Commissioner of Police that journalists are vested with mandate to, inter alia, inform society about events such as the youth protest on Friday. This duty is in line with section 14 of the Constitution of Lesotho which speaks to the issue of freedom of expression and access to information as a constitutional right for Basotho.