Last Updated: Friday, 26 December 2014, 13:50 GMT

U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 1995 - Mozambique

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 30 January 1996
Cite as United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 1995 - Mozambique, 30 January 1996, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6aa3530.html [accessed 28 December 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.
MOZAMBIQUE

 

Mozambique has a constitutional government headed by President Joaquim Chissano who was elected in the country's first multiparty elections in October 1994. President Chissano and the leadership of his party, the National Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (FRELIMO), which has ruled the country since independence in 1975, control policymaking and implementation. The National Assembly, while providing a forum for reconciliation and public airing of issues, did not exert significant authority or independence from the executive. The extremely weak judiciary continued to be unable to implement constitutional provisions safeguarding individual human rights or provide an effective check on the power of the executive branch. Although the foundations of democracy remain fragile, Mozambique's political transition continued to be largely successful, with far fewer human rights problems than before the end of the war in late 1993. The country remained stable following the departure of the last elements of the United Nations peacekeeping force (ONUMOZ) in early 1995. Reintegration of areas controlled by the Mozambican National Resistance (RENAMO) during the war remained contentious but limited to only a few districts. Tensions between the ruling FRELIMO party and RENAMO abated somewhat as the two parties began to work together in the newly elected multiparty legislature.

Mozambique's internal security forces, which include the State Information and Security Service (SISE), the Criminal Investigation Police (PIC), the Mozambican National Police (PRM) and the Rapid Reaction Police (PIR), were a focus of controversy, with RENAMO leader Afonso Dhlakama repeatedly charging that they continued to act as arms of the ruling party. Members of the security forces committed human rights abuses.

Approximately 80 percent of the population is employed in agriculture, mostly on a subsistence level. A slow transition to a market economy continues in the small formal economy. Major exports are shrimp, sugar, cotton, and cashew nuts. While the absence of war has caused economic output to expand, extensive corruption at all levels of government and halfhearted acceptance of the principles of a free market hamper longer term economic development. The Government has not yet fully implemented major economic reforms. Starting from an extremely low base, the gross domestic product grew an estimated 5.4 percent in 1994 and was forecast to grow 5.5 percent in 1995. However, a high inflation rate continued to plague the country, and Mozambique's economy and the Government's budget remain heavily dependent on foreign aid. The annual per capita income of $90 remains one of the lowest in the world. Near normal rains and continuing peace meant that many Mozambicans, including returning refugees and the internally displaced, were able to farm their lands again, reducing dependence on food aid.

Continuing the postwar trend of recent years, the status of political and civil liberties in Mozambique improved again, but the country's overall human rights record was marred by a pattern of abusive police behavior and the corrupt and ineffective judicial system's inability to serve the average citizen. Ill-trained and undisciplined police forces, private security forces, and local officials continued to commit human rights abuses, including extrajudicial killings and excessive use of force. Security forces and police routinely beat or otherwise tortured or abused detainees. Extremely poor prison conditions resulted in the deaths of dozens of inmates. The media remained largely owned by the Government and manipulated by a retrograde faction within the ruling party. With increased press scrutiny, more abuses by security forces came to light than in previous years, and in some instances the Government investigated and punished those responsible. However, due to the common perception that the police force is inept and corrupt, many citizens resorted to mob justice. Arbitrary arrests, lengthy detentions, discrimination and violence against women, and violence against children remain problems.

Respect for Human Rights

Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:

a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

There were no known or suspected cases of political killings, but there were reports of extrajudicial killings. According to the government-owned press, a district administrator in the northern province of Nampula was accused of ordering executions by firing squad. The administrator was suspended pending an investigation. In August in an outlying Maputo suburb, rather than halting a mob from lynching two suspected thieves, a policeman fatally shot the two men. The local police station declined comment. Also in August, according to an independent news facsimile, the PRM in Maputo allegedly extorted money from the families of two suspected bandits but then summarily executed the men anyway. Witnesses claim that in July police called in to settle a dispute between neighbors over a chicken instead shot and killed one of the disputants, Fern Macongue Sitoe. According to the press, the policemen continue to work in the local police station. In February Rapid Reaction Police in Inhambane opened fire on a crowd of unarmed protesters, killing two.

From all indications, mob/vigilante killings continued to be common. In April a policeman was beaten to death in Maputo by a mob protesting police brutality. In August a mob chased and burned alive a man who had allegedly robbed a delivery truck. There were numerous but unverified reports during the year that regulos (traditional chiefs) and curadeiros (traditional healers) had imposed and carried out death sentences against persons accused of witchcraft.

b. Disappearance

There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances. The fate of thousands of Mozambicans who disappeared during the civil war still remains unresolved.

c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

The Constitution expressly prohibits torture, but the Mozambican police forces carried out serious abuses during 1995. The police often used excessive force, and there were continuing reports that, as a matter of routine, detainees were often beaten and whipped. Corruption in the police forces extends throughout the ranks, and the PRM used violence and detention to intimidate people from reporting abuses. In August the Mozambican League of Human Rights reported that police in Nampula commit torture in jails, police stations, and public places.

According to a 1995 investigation by the Mozambican League of Human Rights, security forces employed by the Commercial Bank of Mozambique beat and tortured (including use of electric shocks) employees of that institution during 1994. According to a press report in February, members of the "Proteg" private security force beat Gabriel Jose Stefane and two of his relatives and detained them for 2 days in the firm's headquarters. In March police in Mutarara detained and beat two RENAMO members of the National Assembly. This lead to a parliamentary inquiry and disciplinary action against the police involved. RENAMO leader Dhlakama charged on numerous occasions that members of his party were being harassed, detained, and beaten by police. He also charged that police, under the guise of civilians, continue to steal from and intimidate his constituency in Manica Province. In June the Mozambican League of Human Rights reported that the "Lightning Brigade" of the Mozambique Armed Defense Force (FADM), sent to the Moamba area west of Maputo to deal with armed banditry, had detained, beaten, and tortured suspects without due process.

The rise of criminal activity, combined with the ineffectiveness of the police forces and a weak judicial system (see Section l.e.), led to increased instances of popular justice and vigilante activity. The local press frequently reported instances of suspected thieves being severely beaten or even lynched by angry mobs. Confiscating people's possessions under flimsy pretexts is a common police practice. On occasion, the Government has taken action to counter the abuses arising from police corruption and excessive use of force. In February Nampula Province Governor Rosario Mualeia called on police in the province to stop beating citizens and confiscating their possessions. There were isolated instances of disciplinary actions in other parts of the country.

Prison conditions throughout the country posed a serious threat to inmates' life and health. Medical and food supplies are more often than not insufficient, and it is estimated that some prisons hold up to four times their intended prisoner capacity. According to Justice Minister Jose Abudo, illnesses prevalent in the prison population include diarrhea, malaria, scabies, and tuberculosis. Abudo made a highly publicized visit to Maputo jails in August and drew attention to the terrible conditions. He noted that with the exception of Niassa central prison, all other prisons in the country were overcrowded.

According to a report by the Mozambican Legue of Human Rights, the central prison in Maputo houses nearly twice its capacity--1,575 rather than 800 inmates. The civil prison in Maputo is currently housing 550 prisoners rather than its stated maximum capacity of 250. In Nacala City, in Nampula Province, the prison is housed in the basement of the only hotel in town. As the Nampula Provincial Director of Prisons, Basilio Augusto, explained, the province does not have adequate buildings to house prisoners. Thus, prisoners, ill or not, are all placed in the same cell in inhumane conditions. For example, Nampula central prison, with a capacity of 90 persons, currently houses 400 prisoners.

In September Radio Mozambique reported that 31 inmates had already died in Chimoio central prison in 1995 from illness, lack of food, and lack of sanitary conditions. According to the report, prisoners in Chimoio receive only one meal per day, and the prison authorities rarely provide inmates with medical attention. August press reports stated that 25 prisoners died in Manica central prison. In May the press reported that the Director of the Nampula prison had been accused of stealing prisoners' food and that 12 prisoners had died in the first 3 months of the year from malnutrition. In July 3 former detainees at the First Police Station in Nampula stated that at least 10 people died there over a 3-month period. The three men attributed the deaths to food shortages and lack of medical assistance. However, they also charged that police beat inmates as punishment for disobeying orders. They further alleged that some police guards asked for money in exchange for freedom.

In January the Tanzanian Embassy requested that the Government investigate reports that 13 Tanzanian citizens had died of diseases caused by poor conditions in the jail in Beira. International human rights groups are given access to prisoners.

d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

The law requires that most detainees be charged or released within 30 days. However, persons accused of the most serious crimes, i.e., security offenses or those requiring a sentence of more than 8 years, may be detained for up to 84 days without being formally charged. With court approval, such detainees may be held for two additional periods of 84 days while the police complete their investigation. In practice, however, these rules, as well as a detainee's constitutional right to counsel and to contact relatives or friends often are ignored. The Government has broad latitude to determine what constitutes a security offense.

Most citizens are unaware of their rights, particularly those granted under the 1990 Constitution, and detainees can spend many months, even years, in pretrial status. In some cases, detainees may be released from prison while the investigation proceeds, but the bail system remains poorly defined, with police and prison officials usually taking bribes to effect the release of those who can afford to pay. The law provides that if the prescribed period for investigation has been completed and no charges have been brought, the detainee must be released. In practice, however, this law is often ignored, in part because of the severe lack of administrative personnel, trained judges, and sufficient lawyers to monitor the judicial system (see Section 1.e.). A large backlog of prisoners continues to await trial. In March the Deputy Minister of Justice acknowledged that between 20 and 30 percent of some 4,000 detainees held in jails had been held without charge beyond the period stipulated by law, but in July, the Minister of Justice stated that of 2,572 detainees awaiting trial, 1,451 had not been charged. In July it was reported that of 174 prisoners in the Xai Xai jail, only 25 had actually been convicted of crimes. The same month long-time detainees at the Gaza provincial prison in Xai Xai rioted, demanding that their cases be tried; 11 detainees were injured when police intervened.

According to the Mozambican League of Human Rights, of the 1,575 people detained in Maputo central prison, 1,009 were awaiting trial. The League discovered that one person who was arrested for stealing cement has been jailed in Maputo central prison since September 1992 but has yet to be taken before a magistrate. In another documented case a man in the central prison accused of stealing a kilogram of onions in 1989 still awaited trial at year's end.

The 1990 Constitution expressly prohibits exile, and the Government does not use exile as a form of political control.

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial

The 1990 Constitution formally established an independent judiciary and specifically states that the decisions of the courts take precedence over all other authorities and individuals and must be obeyed. Nevertheless, the executive, and by extension the FRELIMO party, dominates the judiciary. In general, judges are beholden for their positions to the ruling FRELIMO party, which continues to exercise significant influence on all aspects of public life through the executive and party organs. Moreover, the President appoints the members of the most important tribunal, the Supreme Court, and prior to the October elections, these were automatically ratified by the FRELIMO-appointed National Assembly. The President also appoints the Attorney General, and after a delay of almost a year, in December, the President filled this long-vacant position. The new multiparty National Assembly has yet to assert its prerogatives in the judicial area.

Mozambique has two complementary formal justice systems: the civil/criminal, which includes customary courts; and the military. A 1991 law empowered the Supreme Court to administer the civil/criminal; it also hears appeals, including military cases, although the Ministry of Defense administers the military courts. Civilians are not under the jurisdiction of or tried in the military courts. Local customary courts handle matters such as estate and divorce cases. In regular courts, all accused persons are in theory presumed innocent and have the right to legal counsel and the right of appeal, but the authorities do not always respect these rights, and in fact the great majority of the population does not possess the means to obtain any form of legal counsel following the disintegration of a government organization previously responsible for providing counsel for indigent defendants. The President of the Supreme Court has acknowledged that the judicial system is plagued by bribery and extortion.

The Government, with international assistance, has developed a comprehensive plan for improving the professional level and efficiency of the judiciary. However, in 1995 little action was taken to put this plan into effect. The military is also discussing new judicial institutions.

Since the establishment of the Supreme Court in 1988 and the abolition of the Revolutionary Military Tribunal, persons accused of crimes against the State are tried in common civilian courts under standard criminal judicial procedures. A judge may order a trial closed because of national security interests or to protect the privacy of the plaintiff in cases concerning rape.

Efforts to reintegrate RENAMO-controlled zones into central administrative structures continued, but RENAMO still administers a number of areas through a rudimentary form of civil administration and traditional courts, with extensive use of traditional authorities as judges. In a June Focus on Africa report, traditional chiefs were accused of sentencing to death persons accused of witchcraft and throwing them to the crocodiles.

f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence

The 1990 Constitution provides for the right to privacy and expressly forbids the use of surveillance techniques. By law, police need a warrant to enter homes and businesses. Although there are fewer reports of such activity, incidents of illegal telephone wiretapping by government intelligence agencies allegedly still occur. In July RENAMO's Dhlakama accused the SISE of spying on him during a visit to Gaza Province.

Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

a. Freedom of Speech and Press

The Constitution, the 1991 Press Law, and the 1992 Rome Peace Accords provide for freedom of expression and the press but with restrictions in cases involving national defense considerations. In practice, however, the Government restricts these freedoms. While criticism of the President is not legally prohibited, the 1991 Press Law holds that, in cases of defamation against the President, truth is not a sufficient defense against libel. Although this law had not been tested in court, it resulted in considerable self-censorship and almost no direct criticism of the President.

The Government dominates the media through direct control of, and subsidies to, the most important means of reaching the public. The Government owns the country's only two daily newspapers (Noticias in Maputo and Diario in Beira), the largest weekly newspaper (Domingo), the main radio station, the only weekly news magazine and one of the two television stations. The Government also has its own wire service (the Mozambican Information Agency--AIM), which local journalists regard largely as an outlet for propaganda.

While control of the media is not word-by-word and day-by-day, the official media know their limits and generally do not criticize government officials or policies. Two ministers did become the target of press campaigns, but this was less a break with past practice than evidence that they were out of favor with the retrograde faction of FRELIMO that has the most influence on the press. The government-controlled media not only avoids stories critical of the Government but also finds ample space for items that support it or that portray the opposition in a bad light. Recently, such activity included disinformation campaigns regarding RENAMO activities and exaggerated reports on the degree of food shortages in the country. Abolition of the Ministry of Information in late 1994 did not result in greater independence for the media as the Ministry's functions were taken over by the Prime Minister's Office.

Notwithstanding the dominance of the official media, the small, independent press carry opposition viewpoints and generally have far more credibility. However, the influence of the independent press and, for that matter, of the official press as well, is limited largely to Maputo and the provincial capitals because of the logistical difficulty of distribution of any publication in rural areas.

The independent media consist of two weekly newspapers (Savanna and Demos), two daily fax newsletters (Mediafax and Imparcial), the second television station (RTK) and a few limited-range radio stations. RTK began its third year of broadcasting in 1995. While independent of the Government, the station is owned by a FRELIMO Central Committee member, and programming has not taken an independent political line. Both RTK and the government station broadcast only in Maputo and two other major cities, leaving the vast majority of the country without television coverage.

Journalists of the independent as well as the government-controlled press who even obliquely criticized high-level officials were subject to threats and intimidation. In March Mediafax editors quickly were summoned to the prosecutor's office (even though such legal processes usually take months) after publishing a story about a vice minister's actions relating to a stolen car. Interior Minister Manuel Antonio made public threats against journalists of Diario de Mocambique, after that paper published reports linking the Minister's brother to a stolen car. In June a journalist with the government-owned AIM was detained by police for 8 hours, apparently in retaliation for press articles critical of police behavior.

There are no formal restrictions on academic freedom, but, in practice, teachers routinely adhere to self-censorship since their employment depends on the State.

b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The Constitution provides for freedom of assembly and association. Legislation enacted in 1991 provided guidelines for the registration of political parties, and 18 registered political parties were active during the 1994 election campaign, including RENAMO and FRELIMO. Throughout 1995 political groups were free to hold congresses and press conferences.

Other groups and associations also have organized or become more active. For example, in mid-February the Order of Lawyers of Mozambique was established with the announced purpose of reorganizing the legal profession and redefining the national standards for accreditation as an attorney. The Mozambican Christian Council has undertaken a project to collect arms throughout the country. It has held several rallies where people were able to exchange arms for agricultural equipment. The rallies were well-attended and faced no governmental obstacles or harassment.

Under new legislation approved in October 1992, a political party must demonstrate that it has no racial, ethnic, or religious exclusiveness and secure at least 2,000 signatures of support from within the country in order to be recognized legally.

No groups were known to have been denied permission to hold public marches.

c. Freedom of Religion

The Constitution mandates strict separation of church and state and provides for the freedom to "practice or not practice a religion." The Government does not require religious organizations or missionaries to register, and foreign missionaries are routinely granted visas. The Constitution gives religious institutions the right to own property and operate schools. In May a radio station owned by a religious organization opened in Maputo, and in March a Muslim-owned weekly newspaper was launched. Relations between the Government and religious organizations, tense in the early years after independence, began to improve in 1992 and have improved further as the Government has sought political support from these organizations in the multiparty system.

d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

The Constitution provides for freedom of travel within the country and abroad. The Government no longer requires citizens to obtain permits from local authorities in order to travel within the country. The Government does continue to enforce a law fining foreigners who overstay their visas $300 per day.

With the end of the civil war and the return of the rains after the record drought of 1992, internally displaced Mozambicans and those who had sought refuge in neighboring asylum countries began to return home at the end of 1992 and throughout 1993 and 1994. Under the auspices of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and with the assistance of the International Organization of Migration, by mid-1995 over 1.7 million refugees had returned, and most of the 3.6 million displaced persons had moved back home. Travel to RENAMO controlled areas was generally not difficult, although in many cases RENAMO insisted that in order to ensure safety and prevent misunderstanding, relief workers and others should carry RENAMO letters.

The numerous soldier mutinies which plagued the country during 1994 largely abated due to the demobilization of most of the former combatants, with relatively few such protests threatening freedom of movement. A more significant problem, especially for truck drivers and foreign tourists, was harassment by police demanding bribes to escape trumped-up charges of minor infractions.

At the end of 1995, there were few refugees from other countries in Mozambique. Between October 1992 and December 1994, the UNHCR registered 383 refugees, but the Government has subsequently lost track of the whereabouts of 200 of these persons. In January the Foreign Minister stated that the Government had received 187 requests for asylum. There were no reported cases in which refugees were forced to return to countries where they might have a well-founded fear of persecution.

Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their Government

Citizens freely exercised for the first time their right to vote in multiparty elections in October 1994, which U.N. and other observers declared to be free and fair. President Chissano was elected, with the ruling FRELIMO party winning 129 of the 250 National Assembly seats. The newly elected Parliament, with its FRELIMO majority, did not provide any significant check on the power of the executive branch. The President and the FRELIMO leadership continued to control policymaking and implementation, and FRELIMO members were appointed to all cabinet positions and provincial governorships, even in provinces where RENAMO had won overwhelming majorities in the 1994 elections.

RENAMO, for its part, in Nampula Province raised money by imposing its own taxes and also carried out its own census. In other areas, FRELIMO administrators accused RENAMO officials of running parallel governmental structures, and harassing and even physically abusing central government appointed officials. By year's end, there were indications the Government was establishing itself in some RENAMO-dominated areas.

In March the Government proposed local elections, limited to the 10 provincial capitals and Maputo, for 1996. The timetable and the areas to participate in these elections were still being debated at year's end however, and they were not expected to take place in 1996.

While there are no legal restrictions hindering women's involvement in government, cultural factors and underdevelopment have inhibited their political advancement. Nonetheless, of the 250 newly elected National Assembly deputies, 62 are women (48 of 129 FRELIMO, 13 of 112 RENAMO and 1 of 9 Democratic Union Coalition), albeit, these female deputies are not believed to play a significant role in either the Parliament's or the individual parties' decisionmaking processes. One woman serves as a minister in the Government and five as vice ministers.

Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights

There are no legal obstacles to the formation of local human rights groups in Mozambique, and two groups formed in 1993 continued to operate. Based on its belief that the great majority of human rights abuses in Mozambique never come to light, the Mozambican League for Human Rights has focused efforts on educating the public regarding its rights, with emphasis on the rights of prisoners. The Government has permitted the League access to Maputo prisons under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Justice. The League has also publicly criticized widespread abusive behavior of the Mozambican police and the Minister of Interior himself.

The Mozambique Government has been receptive to international human rights monitoring groups, including the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability, Language, or Social Status

The Constitution forbids discrimination based on race, sex, religion, or disability, but the Government does not ensure in practice that such discrimination does not occur.

Women

According to medical and other sources, violence against women, especially wife beating and rape, is widespread, especially in rural areas. According to a local women's group, many women believe that their spouses have the right to beat them. The police do not normally intervene in domestic disputes, and cases are rarely brought before the courts. Furthermore, when victims of physical abuse are brought to the hospital, these cases are rarely registered as caused by domestic violence. No official statistics exist with reference to the magnitude of domestic violence. The Government has not specifically addressed the issue of violence against women. While rape can theoretically be prosecuted in the courts, cultural pressures would make it highly unlikely for most women to press for such action.

Despite the constitutional prohibition of discrimination based on sex, women suffer from both legal and societal discrimination. Mozambique has civil and commercial legal codes which predate independence and frequently contradict each other and the Constitution. Among these laws are discriminatory measures based on traditional African practices which limit widows' inheritance rights, with estates reverting to the deceased husband's relatives. Also, the legal domicile of a married woman is her husband's house, and she may only work outside the home with the express consent of her husband. A married woman can use property as collateral for funds only with her husband's consent. The Government has not yet drafted any measures that would revise and update family law.

Women continue to be underrepresented in the professions; a few women are active in the leadership of nongovernmental organizations (NGO's). Women have less access than men to educational institutions above the primary level. Although roughly equal proportions of male and female children enter primary school, by secondary school, males greatly outnumber females. Discrimination against women is most apparent in rural areas where over 80 percent of the population live and where women are engaged mainly in subsistence farming and childrearing, with little opportunity for schooling or access to health care.

In July, in preparation for the U.N. Conference on Women in Beijing, the Mozambican Association of Women in the Legal Profession held a seminar which examined discriminatory elements in the law. They questioned Article 21 of the Constitution, which grants Mozambican citizenship to the foreign wife of a Mozambican male but normally does not grant citizenship to the foreign-born spouse of a Mozambican woman. They also examined several portions of the Civil Code which dictate a woman's residence and grant decisionmaking power to the fathers and husbands.

In May the Mozambican Association of Demobilized Soldiers noted that demobilized female soldiers were not being given the same opportunities as men for reintegration into social and economic projects.

The Justice Ministry and an NGO, the Association of Women, Law, and Development (MULEIDE), which aims to promote and defend the legal rights of women, are collaborating to identify outdated laws that conflict with rights granted to women by the 1990 Constitution. This has been a slow process with few concrete accomplishments.

Children

The Government has not made children's rights and welfare a priority. It has made little attempt to alleviate the plight of the increasing numbers of urban street children, many of whom were orphaned by the war. In a speech in April, the Minister of Social Action Coordination suggested that there were hundreds of thousands of abandoned children in urban areas. Such street children are routinely beaten by police and are often victims of sexual abuse. The Government appears either unwilling or unable to deal with an increasingly corrupt and overcrowded educational system in which it is widely reported that school children (or their parents) must bribe teachers for passing grades. Reportedly about half of the country's children do not attend school at all.

People with Disabilities

Although the Constitution expressly states that "disabled citizens shall enjoy fully the rights enshrined in the Constitution," few resources were available to make this a reality. In 1991 the Association of Mozambican Disabled (ADEMO) was created to address the social and economic needs of the disabled. Although poorly funded, ADEMO provides training, raises public awareness of the need to fully integrate the disabled into society, and lobbies the Ministry of Labor to initiate legislation to support the working rights of the disabled. The electoral law governing Mozambique's first multiparty elections specifically addressed the needs of disabled voters in the polling booths. No special access facilities exist.

National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

There was no systematic persecution or discrimination on the basis of race or ethnicity. However, the FRELIMO Government has traditionally included at all levels a disproportionate number of southerners, mostly from the Shangaan ethnic group. The Government took some steps to address this imbalance--in a departure from previous practice, new provincial governors appointed during 1995 were all natives of the respective provinces and more nonsoutherners were included in FRELIMO's parliamentary delegation.

RENAMO leadership is predominantly from the Shona ethnic group. There is no indication that the conflict between the Government and RENAMO was primarily motivated by ethnicity, although ethnic and regional factors may have played some role and explain some of the civil war violence.

Section 6 Worker Rights

a. The Right of Association

The Constitution specifies that all workers are free to join or refrain from joining a trade union. The Labor Law passed in December 1991 further protects workers right to organize and to engage in union activity at their place of employment. The legislation gave existing unions the right to register independently from the then FRELIMO dominated Organization of Mozambican Workers (OTM). The three independent unions that broke away from the OTM in 1992 formed a central union in 1994 but maintain working contacts with OTM. In December 1994, the National Peasant Union was created, and it specified that it is autonomous and unrelated to any political party.

While still subject to strong government influence, OTM is seeking to develop a more democratic image. At its Third National Congress in May 1994, the OTM membership for the first time elected the President and the Secretary General. Previously both OTM positions had been government appointments. New OTM statutes call for independence from any influences by companies, governments, political parties, and religious groups. The independent unions charged, however, that OTM still lacked sufficient independence from the Government and called for the establishment of a new central union structure.

The Constitution explicitly provides for the right to strike, with the exception of government employees, police, military personnel, and employees of other essential services (which include sanitation, firefighting, air traffic control, health care, water, electricity, fuel, post office, and telecommunications). While there were frequent calls for a general strike to protest what was seen as an insufficient minimum wage, no such strike occurred. Some wildcat strikes were held, predominantly for payment of salaries in arrears.

The 1991 Labor Law forbids retribution against strikers, the hiring of substitute workers, and lockouts by employers. There were no known instances of employer retribution against striking workers. Specific labor disputes are generally arbitrated through ad hoc workers' committees, formally recognized by the Government. The Constitution and labor legislation give unions the right to join and participate in international bodies. The OTM is a member of the Organization of African Trade Union Unity and the Southern African Trade Union Coordinating Council. The Mozambican Parliament has ratified four International Labor Organization conventions on employment policies, tripartite negotiations, trade union legislation, collective bargaining, and protection of trade union rights.

b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

The Labor Law protects the right of workers to organize and engage in collective bargaining. It expressly prohibits discrimination against organized labor, although antiunion discrimination has not been an issue because, until recently, unions were government-controlled organizations. In late 1991, the Government decreed that it would no longer set all salary levels. Negotiation of wage increases was left in the hands of existing unions. During 1994 and 1995, the OTM took an active role in negotiating an increase in the minimum wage. The OTM, the three independent unions, and business organizations met with the Government to negotiate a "social pact," which resulted in an increased minimum wage and the setting of voluntary price ceilings on certain food staples. The more activist independent unions and, to a lesser extent the OTM, utilized the threat of a general strike to compel the Government and business organizations to negotiate. The resulting "social pact" committee has since been formalized to negotiate issues which impact on workers. In September the OTM, the three independent unions, and the Teachers and Journalists Unions continued to negotiate with employers' associations and the Government for an increase in the minimum wage rate. They demanded a 75 percent increase in the minimum wage and an indexing of wages to the inflation rate. The Government agreed to a 37.5 percent wage increase.

While Mozambique has enacted legislation for the establishment of export processing zones, no zones have been created.

c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

Forced or compulsory labor is prohibited by law, and there have been no reports of such labor practices.

d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children

Child labor is regulated by the Ministry of Labor. In the wage economy, the minimum working age is 16 years. Because of high adult unemployment, few children are employed in regular wage positions. However, children commonly work on family farms or in the urban informal sector, where they perform such tasks as guarding cars, collecting scrap metal, or selling trinkets and food in the streets.

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

The Government sets minimum wage rates administratively. The minimum wage at year's end was less than $21 (218,143 meticais) per month. The Ministry of Labor is responsible for enforcing the minimum rates in the private sector, the Ministry of Finance in the public sector. Violations of minimum wage rates are usually investigated only after workers register a complaint. It is customary for workers to receive benefits such as transportation and food. The minimum wage is not considered sufficient to sustain an average urban worker and family. Many workers must turn to a second job, if available, as well as work garden plots to survive.

The standard legal workweek is 44 hours, with a weekly 24-hour rest period stipulated. In the small modern sector, the Government has enacted health and environmental laws to protect workers. On occasion, the Government has closed firms for noncompliance with these laws, but the Ministry of Labor enforces these laws ineffectively. Workers have the right to remove themselves from work situations that endanger their health or safety without jeopardy to their continued employment.

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