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Human Rights Watch World Report 1995 - Mozambique

Publisher Human Rights Watch
Publication Date 1 January 1995
Cite as Human Rights Watch, Human Rights Watch World Report 1995 - Mozambique, 1 January 1995, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/467fca9cc.html [accessed 24 November 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Events of 1994

Human Rights Developments

In its second year of peace, following the October 4, 1992 General Peace Accord, the overall human rights situation continued to improve and culminated in Mozambique's first multi-party election. Restricted freedom of movement and expression in some areas controlled by the former rebel Mozambique National Resistance (RENAMO) and appalling prison conditions and intimidation in some areas of RENAMO supporters by the paramilitary Rapid Intervention Police were the main concerns.

The first ever democratic elections were held on October 27-29, with voter turnout above 85 percent despite RENAMO's abortive and short-lived day-long boycott of the first day of voting. With 95 percent of the votes counted at time of writing the ruling Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (FRELIMO) took 45 percent in the parliamentary elections, giving it 129 out of 250 seats. RENAMO got 38 percent, gaining 112 seats. The Democratic Union, a rightest opposition party won nine seats. Joaquim Chissano, the current president was the winner in the presidential race, with 54 percent of the vote (compared to 34 percent for RENAMO leader Alfonso Dhlakama). On November 14, Dhlakama phoned U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali to accept the election results and announced that he was prepared to cooperate with the government in the post-election era.

The election campaign began officially on September 22 and over 5.2 million people registered to vote. It saw little violence and a low key campaign was conducted by both sides, although there was some intimidation by both in their stronghold areas. The south and far north voted for Chissano and FRELIMO while the central provinces of Manica and Sofala for RENAMO. The results in the strategic provinces of Nampula and Zambezia, where 41 percent of the electorate were registered, were close, neighboring villages often voting for opposing candidates.

The war and experience of human rights abuses played a role in the electoral outcome. In northern Mozambique, RENAMO campaigned to politicize villagers and in some areas sought to make amends for past brutalities. In some districts of Zambezi province RENAMO transferred a number of officers with particularly brutal reputations out of the vicinity, and apologized for past brutalities. In the far south, the scene of many massacres by RENAMO in the 1980s, the electorate overwhelmingly rejected the former rebels, to the extent that even RENAMO controlled zones voted for Chissano and FRELIMO.

Human rights protection remained a low priority at official levels and will probably not feature highly in the policies of the new government. Some sort of accommodation between the two main contending parties is likely and past records of human rights abuses are being ignored. There are no plans for a "Truth Commission," or accountability for past human rights abuses.

The appointment on April 6 of Lieutenant General Lagos Lidimo (by the government) and Lieutenant General Mateus Ngonhamo (by RENAMO) as joint heads of the new Armed Defense Forces of Mozambique (FADM) army is a good indication of this approach. Lagos Lidimo in particular has a reputation for brutality in the late 1980s in operations against RENAMO in Zambezia province.

The official demobilization process for former combatants has been completed, although there are still former soldiers who failed to register. The forty-nine U.N.-run assembly points closed their doors to new arrivals on August 15. ONUMOZ, United Nations Operations in Mozambique, had registered 64,130 government troops and 18,227 RENAMO soldiers. Of these, 7,774 troops have moved to the training camps for the FADM. The total of the new army may reach 12,000, but this is far less than the 30,000 strong army envisaged in the 1992 GPA. Most notable is that the majority of soldiers from both sides wanted to be demobilized and appeared to have no interest in being in the future army.

A notable development in 1994 was the collapse of discipline amongst rank and file RENAMO soldiers toward their leadership, reflected in a significant increase in mutinies and in beatings of their senior military leaders. For example on June 1, RENAMO's Brigadier General Raul Dick was badly beaten by his men in Mocubela Assembly Area when he tried to mediate a dispute about poor conditions. In June and July there were over thirty incidents of soldiers mutinying, often by setting up road blocks and holding civilians hostage until their demands were heard.

Re-integration into civilian society of these demobilized soldiers was one of the greatest challenges for the new post-election government. There was widespread concern that a lack of employment prospects will result in economic and socially induced banditry.

During his first ever U.S. visit in June, RENAMO leader Dhlakama admitted for the first time that RENAMO had in the past recruited child combatants. There were over 2,000 child soldiers known to international nongovernmental organizations in May. According to a UNICEF survey of the problem at this time "these children are under military supervision, kept in tightly guarded bases within RENAMO's strongest military zones." By September RENAMO had began to fully assist in permitting these children to leave. These children have been problematic for RENAMO, not least because there have been several incidents in which they went on strike demanding benefits equal to those of adult soldiers. Human Rights Watch interviewed several child soldiers in October just after the elections. Having already lost their families, they also felt betrayed by RENAMO, which they said had "dropped" them. Child combatants have been regarded as unassembled troops by the U.N. and are not eligible for the same sort of benefits that assembled soldiers receive.

The government has continued to build up its paramilitary police force, the Rapid Intervention Police. This force is some 2,000 strong, made up of former army and security personnel, and has a reputation for intimidation and heavy-handed tactics. On October 23 Human Rights Watch witnessed the Rapid Intervention Police use excessive violence against civilians in unrest following the end of a RENAMO electoral rally at Xai Xai.

There remain large quantities of arms cached across the country. A typical arms cache seen by Human Rights Watch in October included six AK-47s, six hand grenades, one RPG-7, and two PMN anti-personnel mines. These had been stored in greased cloth. ONUMOZ officials admit that there are literally millions of guns still in circulation and that both sides have been stockpiling their better weaponry. In September there was a stand-off between the government and ONUMOZ when the U.N. established that there was a massive arsenal of undeclared weaponry, including hundreds of landmines, in storage under the Ministry of Interior in Maputo. After some tense discussions, the U.N. allowed the government to register the arsenal.

Reports of appalling prison conditions and detention without trial continue to be received. There is currently a two year back-log in court hearings that is stalling the judicial process. U.N. Civilian Police monitors (Civpol), whose mandate includes prison visits, spoke of poor conditions, cases of forced labor and incidents of rape by police of inmates in the prisons visited. RENAMO continued to deny complete free movement in its zones, although this situation had gradually improved throughout 1994. In October several informants told Human Rights Watch that they had recently joined RENAMO in exchange for gaining the freedom of their relatives.

The Right to Monitor

The Mozambican "Human Rights League" attempted to visit RENAMO areas, including its headquarters at Maringue, without success, despite several public invitations by RENAMO leadership to human rights groups to visit its areas. Human Rights Watch/Africa had travelled in RENAMO zones in June and July 1993 when researching its report Landmines in Mozambique.

International human rights groups visited government areas in Mozambique throughout 1994 without hinderance and the London-based organization Article 19 conducted a successful media-monitoring project during the election campaign.

U.S. and U.N. Policy

The Clinton administration played an important role in the build-up to the elections. U.S. AID continued to invest in the peace process including in several civil education programs. The administration was also anxious that the elections be held in the fall. U.S. permanent representative to the U.N. Madeleine Albright in March warned against any further delay in holding elections. The administration has also pushed for greater accountability of government, including concern for human rights. Following the April appointment of Lagos Lidimo by the Mozambican government as joint head of the new Armed Defense Forces of Mozambique, the administration called the Mozambican Ambassador to the State Department to request an explanation for the appointment of a man with a poor human rights record to such a senior post.

The administration also played a constructive role in May in putting pressure on RENAMO to permit UNICEF access to its child combatants and speed up efforts to reunite these children with their families. RENAMO leader Dhlakama was told that such actions would facilitate his June visit to the U.S. During Dhlakama's visit to the U.S. he met with the Acting Secretary of State for African Affairs at the State Department and Department of Defense officials. He also called upon U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros Ghali in New York.

The U.S. administration presented two critical "non-papers," on May 23 and on October 11 to the Mozambican government. In May the U.S. administration expressed particular concern about the government's efforts to withhold key combat units such as the Sixth Tank Brigade and the Nyanga Brigade from demobilization, by declaring them "non-assembly areas" in violation of the GPA. The new U.S. ambassador to Maputo, Dennis Jett, used his July 4 speech to follow up on those issues, in addition to pushing for a Government of National Unity (GUN) power-sharing agreement. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, George Moose visited Mozambique for six hours on August 9 and held talks with Foreign Minister Pascoal Mocumbi and RENAMO leader Dhlakama. In these meetings Moose pushed for both sides to meet the demobilization and election schedules.

The October "non-paper" was even more hard hitting, threatening to "re-evaluate our future development assistance program in Mozambique" unless the government assisted on five key areas, including access to regional arms depots and payment of the salary and subsistence requirements of electoral officials.

The growing costs of nation-wide peacekeeping have made the international community more determined than ever to secure a U.N. withdrawal from Mozambique quickly following the elections. In early May the U.N. Security Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Operation in Mozambique (ONUMOZ) to November 15 and ordered the closing down of the mission by January 31, 1995. In November, the mandate was extended to mid-December, the date when a new government is to be sworn into office. It also authorized the establishment of a police component, Civpol, comprising 1,144 officers, while cutting back the 6,200 member military peacekeeping force to avoid additional costs on top of the annual $210 million per year already budgeted. In September the U.N. obtained funds from the U.S. to retain a reduced Civpol presence in Mozambique past January 31, 1995. ONUMOZ currently costs $26,900,000 per month, or about $900,000 per day.

The Civpol contingent has been ineffectual in some areas. In October Human Rights Watch witnessed Civpol officers consciously avoid investigating reports of human rights abuses. We were told that it would be "too much work," although this was their job.

Beginning in September U.N. priorities focused on a successful outcome of the elections and symbolic actions, such as military and police patrols, increased, pro-active investigation in reports of human rights abuses and the search and destruction of arms depots and caches declined. Only following international pressure, including from the U.S., was the issue of arms caches made a priority in October.

In December 1993 and January 1994 Italian members of the U.N. were accused of child abuse in Sofala province by an alliance of U.S., British, and Norwegian Save the Children Fund organizations. Soldiers from the now withdrawn Italian battalion Albatroz, which had been responsible for guarding the Beira corridor, were accused of repeated abuses of young girls for sexual purposes. In 1993 Human Rights Watch witnessed Italian soldiers solicit attention from a seemingly underage girl in Chimoio. Internal U.N. investigations have produced no official results on the charges.

The Work of Human Rights Watch/Africa

In March, Human Rights Watch/Africa and the Arms Project published Landmines in Mozambique, a 136-page report documenting the serious landmines problem. The report demonstrated how most combatant forces, including those of the Mozambican government, RENAMO, the former Rhodesia, South Africa, Tanzania, and Portugal have been responsible for laying landmines, especially antipersonnel mines. At least fifteen countries, most notably the former Soviet Union, have manufactured more than fifty different types of mines used in the Mozambican conflict.

Most of the mines were laid without markings or warnings to the civilian population. A large proportion were laid in such a way that their victims could not be other than civilians. More than 8,000 civilians are amputees as a result of landmines.

Professional mine clearance only began in mid-1994. Although the U.N. is responsible for coordinating initiatives, its plans were delayed by government and RENAMO political fighting, as well as the U.N.'s own bureaucracy. The U.N. has also engaged in "double dipping," giving clearance contracts to mines manufacturers, an action that Human Rights Watch vigorously opposed. The tragedy in Mozambique caused by landmines demonstrated once again that the 1980 Landmines Protocol had been wholly ineffective.

Human Rights Watch/Africa visited Mozambique in September and October and is preparing an updated Portuguese translation of Landmines in Mozambique. Following the government's appointment of Lagos Lidimo as joint head of the new army, the organization actively lobbied against the appointment on the grounds of his poor human rights record. In September Human Rights Watch/Africa met with Raul Domingos, the Head of RENAMO's Political Affairs Department to discuss human rights issues. It also engaged in other forms of advocacy, focused on informing politicians and diplomats on the current human rights situation. Human Rights Watch/Africa participated in several academic forums and conducted numerous press interviews about human rights in Mozambique.

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