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Executive Summary

Lesotho is a constitutional monarchy with a democratic parliamentary government. Under the constitution the king is head of state but does not actively participate in political activities. The prime minister is head of government and has executive authority. In 2017 then prime minister Pakalitha Mosisili of the Democratic Congress Party lost a vote of no confidence and the snap election that followed. All major parties accepted the outcome, and Motsoahae Thomas Thabane of the All-Basotho Convention party formed a coalition government and became prime minister. Mosisili transferred power peacefully to Thabane, and Mathibeli Mokhothu assumed leadership of the opposition. Local and international observers assessed the election as peaceful, credible, and transparent. In May 2020 Thabane’s coalition government collapsed, and the All-Basotho Convention party and the Democratic Congress Party formed a new coalition government. Former finance minister Moeketsi Majoro replaced Thabane as prime minister.

The security forces consist of the Lesotho Defense Force, Lesotho Mounted Police Service, National Security Service, and Lesotho Correctional Service. The Lesotho Mounted Police Service is responsible for internal security. The Lesotho Defense Force maintains external security and shares some domestic security responsibilities with police and the National Security Service. The National Security Service is an intelligence service that provides information on possible threats to internal and external security. The Lesotho Mounted Police Service reports to the minister of police and public safety; the Lesotho Defense Force and National Security Service to the minister of defense; and the Lesotho Correctional Service to the minister of justice and law. Civilian authorities generally maintained effective control over the security forces. There were credible reports that members of the Lesotho Mounted Police Service and Lesotho Defense Force committed some human rights abuses.

Significant human rights issues included credible reports of: unlawful or arbitrary killings; torture and cases of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary arrest or detention; serious government corruption; lack of investigation of and accountability for gender-based violence, including but not limited to domestic or intimate partner violence, sexual violence, child, early and forced marriage, and other harmful practices; trafficking in persons; and the existence of laws criminalizing consensual same-sex sexual conduct between adults, although not enforced.

While impunity was a problem, the government had mechanisms in place to identify and punish officials who may have committed human rights abuses and corruption.

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U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future