• Itumeleng Shale
  • LLB (NUL) LLM (Pretoria) PhD (Witwatersrand)
  • Lecturer, National University of Lesotho; Advocate of the courts of Lesotho

1. Population indicators

1.1 What is the total population of Lesotho?

 Lesotho’s 2006 population and housing census reflected the population of 1,880,661.[1] The latest 2016 population and housing census reflects a population increase and to about 2,8 million.[2]  

1.2 What is the total number and percentage of persons with disabilities in Lesotho?

 The 2006 Population Census reflected that about 3.7% of the total population of Lesotho has some form of disability. During the 2016 census, the Lesotho National Federation of Organisations of the Disabled (LNFOD) advocated for the adoption of the Washington Group Questionnaire in order to ensure veracity of the results.[3] Although the 2016 report has not yet been published, when published it is believed that it will show an increased percentage of persons with disabilities in Lesotho.

1.3 What is the total number and percentage of women with disabilities in Lesotho?

The total number of women with disabilities (WWDs) is estimated at 33, 191 which is 1.6 percent of total population.[4]

1.4 What is the total number and percentage of children with disabilities in Lesotho?

Reliable estimated could not be ascertained due to lack of statistics, but the Ministry of Education and Training database shows that out of the total enrolment of 424 855 pupils, a staggering 5, 2 percent (22 233) had a disability of one form or another. [5]

2. Lesotho’s international obligation

2.1 While reporting under various other United Nations instruments, under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, or the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, did Lesotho also report specifically on the rights of persons with disabilities in its most recent reports? If so, were relevant ‘concluding observations’ adopted? If relevant, were these observations given effect to? Was mention made of disability rights in your state’s UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR)? If so, what was the effect of these observations/recommendations?

As far as disability is concerned, Lesotho’s latest reports since 2015 reflect the following:

  • Lesotho’s reports to the UN treaty bodies:
  1. Second Periodic Report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC), submitted on 16 November 2016. The Committee adopted concluding observations in which it noted adoption of the Policy on Disability (2016) and the Disability Equity Bill (2018). The Committee also expressed its concern about the Disability Equity Bill which has been pending enactment since 2011 and absence of a strategy to include children with disabilities, stigmatization of children due to societal and cultural attitudes, limited access to transportation, schools, healthcare and other public services, more so in the rural areas. It urged the government of Lesotho to adopt a human rights-based approach to disability, to strengthen the legislative framework, to set up a comprehensive strategy for inclusion of children with disabilities and to undertake measures to improve the collection and analysis of disaggregated data on children with disabilities with the view to informing law, policy and practice. [6]
  2. Initial Report to the Committee on Migrant Workers (CMW), submitted on 1 December 2015.  The report does not mention disability except in relation to education of the children of migrant workers. It states that in order to sustain enrollment of such children in free primary education, they, like all other Basotho children have access to schools which cater for their needs under the Special Education Unit of the Ministry of Education. [7]
  • Lesotho’s reports under the African Human Rights system
  1. Combined Second to Eighth periodic report under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and Initial Report under the African Charter on the rights of women in Africa submitted on 30 November 2018, to be considered on 24 April 2019. Part A of the report which addresses implementation of the African Charter mentions disability with regard to the right to participate in government, [8] right to property, [9] education[10] and protection of family. [11] Part B of the report which address implementation of the African Women’s Protocol specifically addresses protection of the rights of women with disabilities through the Constitution, legislative as well as administrative measures. [12]  

3. Legislation

3.1 Does Lesotho have legislation that directly addresses issues relating to disability? If so, list the legislation and explain how the legislation addresses disability.

Disability Equity Bill, 2018 has been tabled before the National Assembly. It is currently being perused by the Parliamentary Committee for Social Cluster.

4. Decisions of courts and tribunals

4.1 Have the courts (or tribunals) in Lesotho ever decided on an issue(s) relating to disability? If so, list the cases and provide a summary for each of the cases with the facts, the decision(s) and the reasoning.

The most recent case on disability is the case of Koali Moshoeshoe & Others v Director of Public Prosecutions and Others.[13]  In this case section 219 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act, 1981 in terms of which persons with intellectual disabilities were denied capacity to give evidence in the courts of law was declared unconstitutional and in contravention of the nondiscrimination and equality provisions of sections 18 and 19 of the Constitution. However, only an ex tempore decision was given and a full judgment not yet written.

5. Policies and programmes

5.1 Does Lesotho have policies or programmes that directly address disability? If      so, list each policy and explain how the policy addresses disability.

  • National Disability Mainstreaming Plan 2015. It provides the government ministries with strategic means through which they must mainstream disability into their already existing programs.

6. Disability bodies

6.1 Other than the ordinary courts and tribunals, does Lesotho have any official body that specifically addresses violations of the rights of people with disabilities? If so, describe the body, its functions and its powers.

Disability Equality Bill, 2018 proposes establishment of a Disability Rights Commission.

6.2Other than the ordinary courts or tribunals, does Lesotho have any official body that though not established to specifically address violations of the rights of persons with disabilities, can nonetheless do so? If so, describe the body, its functions and its powers.

The yet to be established Human Rights Commission has a broad mandate including promotion and protection of the rights of persons with disabilities.

7. National human rights institutions (Human Rights Commission, Ombudsman or Public Protector)

7.1 Does Lesotho have a Human Rights Commission, an Ombudsman or Public Protector? If so, does its remit include the promotion and protection of the rights of people with disabilities? If your answer is yes, also indicate whether the Human Rights Commission, the Ombudsman or Public Protector of Lesotho has ever addressed issues relating to the rights of persons with disabilities.

Lesotho does not have a NHRI yet. The Constitution has been amended to provide for establishment of a Human Rights Commission. Human Rights Commission Act 2016, has been enacted to enable operations of the Commission. However, to date the Commission has not yet started operations. The Commission is to have a broad mandate which includes protection of the rights of persons with disabilities.

8. Disabled peoples’ organisations (DPOs) and other civil society organisations

8.1 Does Lesotho have organisations that represent and advocate for the rights and welfare of persons with disabilities? If so, list each organisation and describe its activities.

Lesotho National Federation of the Disabled (LNFOD) is the umbrella body of disabled peoples’ organizations (DPOs). The mission of LNFOD is to protect the rights of persons with disabilities in Lesotho by providing support to DPOs and empowering their members with life skills, financial and material resources and representing their needs to government, development partners and the wider society.

The additional Disabled Peoples Organisations (DPOs) in Lesotho are:

  1. Disabled and HIV & Aids Organisation  Lesotho (DHAOL) is a non-government organization aimed at providing comprehensive care and support to vulnerable groups of people affected and infected by HIV and people with disabilities and also to create an enabling society free from all types of exploitation, stigmatization and discrimination. It is based in Maseru East, Ntlafatso Street, Tel: (+266) 57953223, e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  2. Network Development of the Blind is a non-governmental organization which focuses on protection of the rights of persons with visual disabilities. It is based in Maseru. Its website is  www.lndb.co.ls, Tel: (+266)  28325326

9. Main human rights concerns for people with disabilities in Lesotho

9.1 Describe the contemporary challenges of persons with disabilities, and the legal responses thereto, and assess the adequacy of these responses to:

Further challenges which persons with disabilities face include:

  • Inaccessible information and public services
  • Social Exclusion
  • Non-representation in key decision-making positions and institutions

1. Lesotho Bureau of Statistics (BOS) www.bos.gov.ls (accessed 24 November 2014).

2. Available on www.gov.ls>articles>population (accessed 24 April 2019).

3. N Sefuthi & M Sekoankoetla ‘Reflections on the development of the National Disability Mainstreaming Plan in Lesotho’ in T Chataika (ed) The Routledge handbook of disability in Africa (2018)

4. Lesotho Demographic Survey 2006.

5. C Chitereka ‘People with disabilities and the role of social workers in Lesotho’ (2010)18, 1 Social Work and Society International Online Journal. Available on http://www.socwork.net/sws/article/view/25/69. (Accessed 23 March 2015).

6. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Concluding observations on the second periodic report of Lesotho, June 2018, CRC/C/LSO/CO/2 paras 41 & 42.

7. UN Committee on the Rights of Migrant Workers and Members of their families Consideration of reports submitted state parties under articl 73 of the Convention pursuant to the simplified reporting procedure: Initial report of states parties due in 2007, Lesotho, 15 December 2015, CMW/C/LSO/1para 147

8. African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Lesotho: Combined second to eighth periodic report under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and initial report under the Protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of Women in Africa,  Para 112 the IEC strives to provide voter education to all people including persons with disabilities.

9. Lesotho’s combined second to eighth periodic report (note 7 above) Para 136 Land Administration Authority (LAA) strives to ensure access to land registration facilities for all including people with disabilities.

10. Lesotho’s combined second to eighth periodic report (note 7 above) Para 189 Education Act provides for inclusion of learners with disabilities in the mainstream education system.

11.Lesotho’s combined second to eighth periodic report (note 7 above) Para 205 refers to section 33 of the Constitution which enjoins the government to ensure protection, rehabilitation and training of people with disabilities; see also para 213 which lists the laws which protect and include people with disabilities and para 220 which refers to policies which aimed at protection of people with disabilities.

12. Lesotho’s combined second to eighth periodic report (note 7 above) Paras 527 – 534.

13. Constitutional Case 14/2017 (unreported).