New York, July 28, 2008--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the decision by the Lesotho Communications Authority last week to suspend private radio broadcaster Harvest FM for three months. The decision to suspend the award-winning station on July 21 follows defamation complaints lodged separately by the principal secretary in the Ministry of Communications and the police commissioner last December.
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New York, June 25, 2007— Thabo Thakalekoala, a prominent reporter and presenter for Lesotho’s private radio station Harvest FM faces a charge of high treason for airing a controversial letter, according to news reports and a local press freedom group.
Thakalekoala read on the air on Friday a letter allegedly written by members of the Lesotho national army, denouncing Prime Minister Phakalita Mosisili as “the unwanted ruler of Lesotho.” The letter, broadcast on the early morning talk show “Rise and Shine,” included accusations of corruption involving Lesotho’s ruling elite. The Lesotho Mounted Police Service arrested Thakalekoala immediately after the broadcast, according to local reports. Thakalekoala appeared today in court in the capital, Maseru; his hearing was continued until Tuesday.
ALTHOUGH LESOTHO'S CONSTITUTION GUARANTEES FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION, it also provides for the protection of the "reputations, rights, and freedoms" of individuals. Criminal defamation statues reamin on the books, making independent journalism a difficult and expensive career.
Throughout the year, Lesotho struggled to cope with the economic impact of large-scale retrenchments in the South African mining industry, a key source of jobs for the impoverished country. On the political front, tension grew between government and opposition over the schedule for general elections, which were ultimately postponed until March, 2001.
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