Transformation of the Lesotho juvenile justice system since ratification of the Convention of the Rights of the Child,1989 : legislation and practice.
Ntlatlapa, Makhahliso Lydia.
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Lesotho ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989 (hereafter 'the CRC') in 1992. By virtue of ratification of the CRC Lesotho has undertaken to harmonise its national laws with the CRC provisions. This study looks into the transformation of the Lesotho juvenile justice system since the ratification of the CRC. Some of the provisions of the Children's Protection Act No. 6 of 1980 (hereafter 'the CPA') which established the Lesotho juvenile justice system are not fully compliant with the CRC. This study shows that some major topics in the current Lesotho juvenile justice such as the age of criminal responsibility, procedures in the children's court, legal representation and diversion do not meet the standards of the CRC. Further, the general principles of the CRC are inadequately applied. In order to address these inadequacies Lesotho has drawn the Children's Protection and Welfare Bill 2004 (hereafter ' the Bill' ). Some of the provisions of the Bill relevant to juvenile justice are analysed through the standards of the CRC. While the Bill still has some short falls, in the majority of provisions it sufficiently addresses gaps between the current juvenile justice system and the provisions of the CRC. The study concludes by arguing that the enactment of the Bill should not be delayed further. Professionals in juvenile justice should be trained. Further, some provisions of the Bill like designation of magistrates for the Children's Courts can be put into practice and the use of diversion and restorative justice continued. The CPA provisions which are compatible with the CRC should be used.