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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.

Attacks & developments throughout the region
UPDATE
JUNE 28, 2007


Thabo Thakalenkoala, Harvest FM
IMPRISONED

Chief Magistrate Molefi Makara reduced an initial charge of high treason against Thabo Thakalenkoala and allowed the radio journalist to be released on US$140 bail. The treason charge carried a possible death penalty. The new charge is subject to a prison sentence of up to 20 years and a fine of up to US$14,000. Thakalenkoala must report to authorities if he wants to leave the capital, Maseru, while the case is pending; he was also ordered not to speak publicly about the case.

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.



New York, May 16, 2000 --- Journalist Candi Ratabane Ramainoane, manager of the Maseru-based independent radio station Moafrika FM, received a hand-delivered summons to appear at the Ministry of Communication with a copy of his broadcasting license, sources in Lesotho told CPJ. The summons was delivered to the station today.

The station is accused of fueling anti-government sentiment by publicizing a massive nationwide strike held on May 10 to support demands for elections and the establishment of a government of national unity.
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