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Report updated November 2012

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Child population
970,000 (UNICEF, 2010)

Summary of law reform necessary to achieve full prohibition

Prohibition is still to be achieved in the home, schools, penal institutions and alternative care settings

The Children’s Protection and Welfare Act (2011) provides for “justifiable” chastisement of children. This provision should be repealed. The near universal social acceptance of corporal punishment in childrearing necessitates clarity in law that no level of corporal punishment can be considered “reasonable” and explicit prohibition of all corporal punishment and other cruel or degrading forms of punishment, in the home and all other settings where adults have authority over children.

Explicit prohibition of corporal punishment should be enacted in relation to all education settings (public and private), all institutions accommodating children in conflict with the law and all alternative care settings, including public and private day care, residential institutions, foster care, etc.

Current legality of corporal punishment

Home

Corporal punishment is lawful in the home. Article 16 of the Children’s Protection and Welfare Act (2011) provides for “justifiable” chastisement of children: “(1) A child has a right to be protected from torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, including any cultural practice which degrades or is injurious to the physical, psychological, emotional and mental well-being of the child. (2) A child shall be chastised in accordance with his age, physical, psychological, emotional and mental condition and no discipline is justifiable if by reason of tender age or otherwise the child is incapable of understanding the purpose of the discipline.” A Domestic Violence Bill was under discussion in 2011 but we have no information on proposed provisions.

Schools

Corporal punishment is lawful in schools. The Education Act (2010) is silent on the issue. Article 22 of the Children’s Protection and Welfare Act states that the state has a duty “to formulate policies which will ensure … (k) that … school discipline is consistent with a child’s rights and dignity” but it does not explicitly prohibit corporal punishment.

Penal system

Corporal punishment is unlawful as a sentence for crime. Article 127(5) of the Children’s Protection and Welfare Act explicitly prohibits corporal punishment and public humiliation as part of diversion and article 161(2) states: “No sentence of corporal punishment or any form of punishment that is cruel, inhumane or degrading may be imposed on a child.” Under article 2(4), the Act prevails over provisions in other legislation “contrary or less protective or less promotive”, which would presumably include the provisions for judicial whipping in the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act (1981).

There is no explicit prohibition of corporal punishment as a disciplinary measure in penal institutions. Rule 3 of the Lesotho Prison Rules states that the object of detaining a person in a juvenile training centre is to “keep them under discipline”; rule 31 states that “no officer shall use force unnecessarily when dealing with prisoners”. According to article 22 of the Children’s Protection and Welfare Act, the state has a duty “to formulate policies which will ensure … (q) that every child alleged as having infringed the penal law is treated in a manner consistent with his sense of dignity or worth and that he is reintegrated into society”, but the Act does not explicitly prohibit corporal punishment in penal institutions.

Alternative care

Corporal punishment is lawful in alternative care settings under the provision for “justifiable” chastisement in the Children’s Protection and Welfare Act.

Prevalence research

None identified.

Recommendations by human rights treaty bodies

Committee on the Rights of the Child

“While noting that corporal punishment is prohibited by law in schools, the Committee remains concerned that the practice continues to be widespread in schools and in the family, in the care and juvenile justice systems and generally in society. The Committee is concerned, in particular, that corporal punishment of children is accepted among the public at large.

“The Committee recommends that the State party take measures to implement effectively legislation prohibiting corporal punishment in schools and in care and juvenile justice institutions, and consider prohibiting corporal punishment in the family. The Committee recommends, in addition, that the State party raise awareness of the negative effects of such punishment and ensure that discipline in families, schools and all institutions is administered in a manner consistent with the child’s dignity and in conformity with the Convention. The Committee recommends, further, that the State party promote the use of alternative disciplinary measures, in accordance with the principles and provisions of the Convention.

“While the Committee notes that a juvenile justice system has been established in the State party, the Committee remains concerned at:

k) the legality of corporal punishment as a penalty for boys who have committed criminal offences under the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act 1981…

“The Committee recommends that the State party:

b) amend the law as soon as possible in order abolish the sanction of flogging for juvenile delinquents and, in the meantime, provisionally suspend the application of this form of sanction.”
(21 February 2001, CRC/C/15/Add.147, Concluding observations on initial report, paras. 31, 32, 61 and 62)

Human Rights Committee

“The Committee expresses concern about the treatment of detainees in contravention of articles 7 and 10 of the Covenant. While it notes the statement by the delegation that corporal punishment has been abolished, it observes with concern that the State party report indicates that corporal punishment is still being practised, provided that medical doctors are present. The Committee urges the State party to take the necessary measures to improve prison conditions and to abolish totally corporal punishment both in law and in practice.”
(8 April 1999, CCPR/C/79/Add.106, concluding observations on initial report, para. 20)

Universal Periodic Review

Lesotho was examined in the first cycle of the Universal Periodic Review in 2010 (session 8). The following recommendation was made and was accepted by the Government, stating that it considers the it already implemented or in the process of implementation (A/HRC/15/7, Report of the Working Group, para. 97(34)):

“Raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility, and abolish child corporal punishment (Brazil)”

Examination in the second cycle is scheduled for 2015.

This analysis has been compiled from information from governmental and non-governmental sources, including reports on implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Every effort is made to maintain its accuracy. Please send us updating information and details of sources for missing information: info@endcorporalpunishment.org.

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