In the 1990s, the Lesotho Mounted Police Service was in disarray. Its members had gone on strike and had committed kidnappings and other crimes in the small African kingdom. A police mutiny in the capital in 1997 forced the government to address the issue of reforming the service. The effort included setting up three support agencies to monitor the activities of the police and ensure adherence to common standards. These agencies had some success but struggled to assert the type of monitoring that was envisaged. The government in 2005 appointed a forward-looking commissioner who forged ahead with her own reform priorities. The case offers insights into the challenges that arise when establishing external oversight agencies and also shows how savings can be made and reforms moved forward with the right leadership, even in low-resource environments.
Daniel Scher drafted this case study on the basis of interviews conducted in Maseru, Lesotho, in February 2010.