Groups rally behind Chief Justice

Groups rally behind Chief Justice

MASERU – THREE legal associations from the Commonwealth have warned the government to tread carefully on Chief Justice Nthomeng Majara.
The caution comes as the government is getting ready to start impeachment proceedings against the Chief Justice whom it accuses of incompetence, negligence, dereliction of duty and bringing the judiciary into disrepute.

Justice Majara denies all the allegations, insisting that the government wants to hound her out of office.
On Monday the Commonwealth Lawyers Association (CLA), Commonwealth Magistrates and Judges Association (CMJA) and the Commonwealth Legal Education Association (CLEA) said the government should respect the constitution when dealing with the chief justice.
The associations say the government should closely observe “the Commonwealth principles on the accountability of and the relationship between the three branches of the government, which forms the Commonwealth fundamental values”.

“The judges should be subject to suspension or removal only for reason of incapacity or mis-behaviour that clearly renders them unfit to discharge their duties,” the letter said.
“In this regard, Lesotho is urged by the associations to abide by the constitutional provisions, natural justice in order to safeguard the independence of the judiciary.”
The associations urged the government to respect the provisions in the Commonwealth principles which govern the relationship between the three branches of government and are cornerstone of the Commonwealth values.

The CLA, CMJA and CLEA are non-profit organisations that seek to promote the rights of judicial workers and the independence of the judiciary. They also deal with human rights issue.
The Commonwealth is a voluntary club of former British colonies.
International pressure has been piling on the government over its treatment of the chief justice and interference.

Earlier this month the Southern African Chief Justice’ Forum issued an equally robust statement condemning the government’s interference with the judiciary.
This was followed by another strong-worded statement from the Africa Judges and Jurists Forum (AJJF) and the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) which called on government to “guarantee the independence of the judiciary and to immediately take all legal and administrative measures necessary to make the Court of Appeal function as an independent and impartial” apex court in the country.

The statement came after the AJJF and ICJ concluded a five-day fact-finding mission to Lesotho last week.
The AJJF/ICJ mission emphasised the importance of Lesotho authorities “ensuring that the constitutional and legal framework on the selection, appointment and tenure of judges and the actual practices conform to the international obligations of Lesotho pursuant the international human rights treaties to which it is party, as well as other applicable international standards”.

Senate Sekotlo

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