[27/April/2004] SANA'A, (Saba):
By Thuraya Dammaj
The first conference of the Association of Senates and Equivalent Councils in Africa and the Arab World shed light on experiences of
participating countries regarding civil society role, and respecting human rights and freedoms.. Saba here highlights one of such experiences in an interview with Lesotho Senate deputy speaker Mr. Letapatas Makhaol.
Q. What's your role, as a senate, in human rights field ?
We are a second chamber of the parliament, we are a senate, and the role of the parliament is to enhance human rights and ensure that the legislation is dominated by the human rights of the citizens.
Q. What about the civil society organizations in your country ?
Civil society organizations in Lesotho are also a very important and integral part in society and they are given a free hand to operate as much as possible. I think parliament and senate in any country should play role in supporting freedom and effective operation of NGOs in the country.
Q. Do media have a full freedom in Lesotho?
Our country is neighboring south Africa, which is very strong with its very robust media culture, so we would not be an island. We
live in an environment which require giving media freedom and fair operations for the media.
Q. What is the role of your council in supporting women ?
Actually according to our constitution, 30 percent of the members of the parliament, of the lower house and of the senate is allocated
to women, and we have also just passed a law on elections of the local governorates, 30 percent of the seats for members that are going to be elected will be actually allocated to women.
Q. Finally, what is your opinion about this conference ?
It is a great thing that we are doing a meeting to talk about the Association of Senates and Equivalent Councils in Africa and the Arab World in is a beautiful country like Yemen.