New law to ease extradition process

New law to ease extradition process

MASERU-THE Senate yesterday passed a new law under a special sitting that will ease the fetching of crime suspects from foreign countries.
The Fugitive Offenders (Amendment) Bill 2019 is now awaiting to be signed into law by King Letsie III.

Under the current provisions, murder suspects and others facing serious crimes often flee to South Africa before lengthy extradition processes to get them back to Lesotho.

Those facing the death penalty also use the loophole to secure lesser sentences because of an extradition treaty signed between Lesotho and South Africa which forbids the death penalty.

The new law means suspects will be fetched with much ease, prosecuted and receive the appropriate sentence when found guilty.
The Deputy President of the Senate, Tšepo Monethi, said the Bill was proposed on an urgent basis by Foreign Affairs Minister ’Matšepo Ramakoae.

The chairman of the Senate Legislation Committee, Chief Peete Lesaoana Peete, said they were on winter break but the ministry asked for the special passing of the Bill as the international community was expecting it.
Chief Peete said the Bill talks about four amendments like exchange of prisoners “so that Lesotho can access fugitives in South Africa, for example”.

This is a two-way process as Lesotho will also willingly hand over fugitives from other countries to face justice where they committed crimes.
“If we want the prisoner, he should have committed an offence regarded as a crime in both countries,” Chief Peete said.

He said they will remove dual criminal requirements so that Lesotho has access to prisoners it wants from other countries even if what they did is not regarded as a crime in those countries.
He said they will introduce simplified extradition procedures, saying courts have to be involved before extradition.

He said if such a prisoner agrees to the crime or confesses he must be allowed to come and answer.
He said the Minister of Foreign Affairs will be given powers to make regulations as they help a lot on issues of law, “so that minor changes and issues can easily be addressed without the House”.

Chieftainess Kholu Moshoeshoe said the law comes at a right time “as politicians often cause trouble then flee to Ladybrand and other parts of South Africa”.

“We need to stop such acts with the Bill,” she said.
Chief Majara Masupha said after causing trouble some Basotho flee to South Africa claiming that they were being assaulted in Lesotho.
Foreign Affairs Minister ’Matšepo Ramakoae said the amendment will help a lot in the exchange of prisoners.

Ramakoae said money laundering and terrorist financing is rife in the world that is why the international community expects Lesotho to have laws like this one urgently.
She said if the country loses credibility then trade with other countries will not be easy.

“Now it will be easier for me to change regulations flexibly without wasting time,” she said.
Chief Khoabane Theko said the amendment will help clear Lesotho of criminals and terrorists.
“As we speak, South Africa is harbouring killers of (our) First Lady,” Chief Theko said.

He said if the killers are not arrested the case will never ever be prosecuted.
He said they even suspect that some investors in Lesotho are fugitives from their own countries.

“People who rebelled from their countries are here and we do not know much about them,” he said.
Chief Theko said Lesotho is a quiet heaven where even people wanted by the CIA, the United States’ security intelligence agency, can live peacefully.

Nkheli Liphoto

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