Lesotho has ratified the following documents:
  • African (Banjul) Charter on Human and People's Rights
  • Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhumane, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
  • Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women
  • Convention on the Rights of the Child
  • International Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
  • International Covenant Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
  • International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
The following documents further define the obligations of Lesotho:
    The documents listed above require Lesotho to protect and promote the following rights:

    Right to development
    Right to education
    Right to equal protection of the law
    Right to freedom from inhuman or degrading treatment
    Right to highest attainable standard of physical and mental health
    Right to housing
    Right to just and favorable work conditions
    Right to liberty and security of the person
    Right to life and survival
    Right to marry and found a family
    Right to non-discrimination on grounds of age
    Right to non-discrimination on grounds of disability (i.e. HIV positive)
    Right to non-discrimination on grounds of marital status
    Right to non-discrimination on grounds of race and ethnicity
    Right to non-discrimination on grounds of sex and gender
    Right to non-discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation
    Right to private and family life
    Right to receive and impart information
    Right to the benefits of scientific progress

    Constitutional Protection of Rights

    The Constitution of Lesotho can be viewed at http://www.lesotho.gov.ls/constitute/gconstitute.htm

    The Constitution of Lesotho is an important tool for the protection and promotion of human rights.

    The Constitution enables Lesotho to translate international agreements into domestic law, and obliges all branches of government to respect and ensure the rights it enunciates.

    The Constitution provides for the protection of the following rights, among others. This empowers individuals in making reproductive health decisions, and helps create the economic and social conditions conducive to good sexual and reproductive health.

    Right to the equal protection of the laws (art. 4(1)(o), art. 19)
    Right to freedom from discrimination (art. 4(1)(n), art. 18))
    Right to freedom from inhuman treatment (art. 4(1)(d), art. 8)
    Right to freedom of association (art. 4(1)(l))
    Right to freedom of expression (art. 4(1)(i), art. 14))
    Right to freedom of movement (art. 4(1)(c), art. 7)
    Right to liberty (art. 4(1)(b), art. 6)
    Right to life (art. 4(1)(a), art. 5)
    Right to private and family life (art. 4(1)(g), art. 11)
    Right to receive and impart information (art. 14(1))
    Right to participate in the conduct of public affairs (art. 4(1)(p), art. 20)
    Right to seek and obtain redress for violations of rights (art. 22)

    The Constitution includes other provisions that promote and protect rights relevant for good sexual and reproductive health.

    It requires Lesotho to create the economic and social conditions that are conducive to development:

    • The Constitution mandates Lesotho to ensure the health of its citizens (art. 27): "(1) Lesotho shall adopt policies aimed at ensuring the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health for its citizens, including policies designed to -
      (a) provide for the reduction of stillbirth rate and of infant mortality and for the healthy development of the child;
      (b) improve environmental and industrial hygiene;
      (c) provide for the prevention, treatment and control of epidemic, endemic, occupational and other diseases;
      (d) create conditions which would assure to all, medical service and medical attention in the event of sickness; and
      (e) improve public health."
    • The Constitution obliges Lesotho to provide education (art. 28).
    • The Constitution requires Lesotho to strive to provide employment (art. 29) and just and favorable working conditions (art. 30).
      What does that entail? This provision may be useful for the protection of women worker's sexual and reproductive health.

    • The Constitution requires Lesotho to protect children (art. 32): Lesotho shall adopt policies designed to provide that -
      (a) protection and assistance is given to all children and young persons without any discrimination for reasons of parentage or other conditions;
      (b) children and young persons are protected from economic and social exploitation;
      (c) the employment of children and young persons in work harmful to their morals or health or dangerous to life or likely to hamper their normal development is punishable by law? "
    • The Constitution mandates Lesotho to protect persons with disabilities (art. 33).
      How can this be used? Whether this provision applies to persons living with or affected by HIV/AIDS requires more research. However, it may provide a useful advocacy argument. For additional information or research please contact the Human Rights Working Group.

    • The Constitution requires Lesotho to develop citizens' economic opportunities (art. 34).
      Why is this provision important for policies addressing sexual and reproductive health? This provision is particularly relevant to women, who find themselves in situations endangering their sexual and reproductive health for lack of financial independence and appropriate economic opportunities. For additional information on poverty, human rights, and sexual and reproductive health, please click on the link below "learn about a specific reproductive health and human rights topic."

    However, the Constitution allows restrictions to rights in certain cases.

    Restrictions to the right to liberty "for the purpose of preventing the spread of an infectious or contagious disease," (art. 6(g)) or for persons who are, or are suspected to be addicted to drugs (art. 6(h)), or to control movement in and out of the country's borders of persons who are, or are reasonably suspected to be, addicted to drugs (art. 6(i), art. 6(j))

    Restrictions to the following rights for the protection of public health:

      • freedom of movement (art. 7(3)(a))
      • right to private and family life (art. 11(2)(a))
      • freedom of expression (art. 14(2)(a))
      • freedom of association (art. 16(2)(a))

    Finally, the Constitution provides there can be discriminations in laws "with respect to adoption, marriage, divorce, burial, devolution of property on death or other matters of personal law" (art. 18(4)(b)), or when customary laws are applied (art. 18(4)(c)). The Constitution explicitly states that measures adopted in relation to those aspects of private life will not be considered discriminatory.

    What does that entail? This has direct consequences on the status of married women. Indeed, it means that women's right to equality, although provided for under international law, cannot be enforced if laws are adopted and discriminate against women in all of those matters. For additional research or information, please click on the link "learn about specific reproductive health and human rights topics."

    What do restrictions entail? By authorizing restrictions to rights, it is acknowledged that Lesotho may be confronted with situations that will entail an infringement on rights. In such situations, Lesotho may take measures to address a public health problem without violating its own constitution. Restrictions are authorized under international law if all of the following conditions are met:
    1. the restriction is provided for and carried out in accordance with the law
    2. the restriction is in the interest of a legitimate objective of general interest (e.g., the protection of public health)
    3. the restriction is strictly necessary in a democratic society to achieve the objective
    4. there are no less restrictive means available to reach the same objective
    5. the restriction is not drafted or imposed arbitrarily, i.e. in an unreasonable or otherwise discriminatory manner