Lesotho Chieftainship Case Goes to the African Commission


The Constitutional Court and Court of Appeal upheld the law finding that it did not amount to unfair discrimination.

“This case is not just about me but about all women in Lesotho. It is aimed at ending women’s second-class status and ensuring we have equal access to all aspects of Lesotho life,” said Masupha.

Masupha, FIDA-Lesotho and SALC are arguing that section 10 of the Chieftainship Act violates fundamental rights guaranteed under a number of regional agreements, which have been ratified by Lesotho, including the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa. They further argue that the rulings of the Lesotho courts undermine women’s rights in violation of these key regional agreements.

“The Lesotho courts failed to uphold a fundamental right enshrined in our Constitution and under Lesotho’s regional and international law obligations. We are now hoping that the African Commission will redress this discrimination, says Kuena Thabane, an attorney and member of FIDA-Lesotho.

Countries throughout Africa are striking down laws which discriminate solely on the basis of gender. The Constitutional Court of South Africa has struck down laws which deny women the right to inherit and has permitted women to succeed to chieftainship. Courts in Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, and Tanzania have also all struck down laws which deny women the right to inherit due solely to their gender.

“Lesotho needs to bring its laws in line with other countries in Africa, which do not permit blatant discrimination merely because of the person’s gender,” says Annabel Raw, a Project Lawyer at SALC.

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