U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 1999 - Mozambique
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Publication Date||25 February 2000|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 1999 - Mozambique , 25 February 2000, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6aa7328.html [accessed 23 December 2014]|
|Disclaimer||This 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's constitutional Government, headed by President Joaquim Chissano, held its second general multiparty elections in December (the first multiparty elections were held in 1994). President Chissano was reelected and his party, the Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (FRELIMO), won 133 seats in the 250-seat Assembly of the Republic, with the remaining 117 seats going to the opposition coalition of the Mozambique National Resistance – Electoral Union (RENAMO-UE). The elections were peaceful and orderly; however, they were marred by allegations of vote-counting irregularities. Chissano and the leadership of FRELIMO, which has ruled the country since independence in 1975, dominate policymaking and implementation. The Assembly is a multiparty parliament that provides increasingly useful debate on national policy issues and generates some proposals independently. During legislative sessions, the Assembly's FRELIMO majority influenced the executive branch on some policy issues. Opposition parties in the Assembly, working together with FRELIMO, were able to develop and enact some legislation on a bipartisan basis. The Constitution provides for an independent judiciary; however, the executive branch dominates the judiciary, which lacks adequate resources, and is chronically understaffed, susceptible to corruption, and largely ineffectual.
The forces responsible for internal security under the Ministry of Interior include: the Criminal Investigation Police (PIC), the Mozambican National Police (PRM), and the Rapid Reaction Police. The State Information and Security Service reports directly to the President. The military continued to suffer from a lack of money and long term strategy. Many former military personnel of all ranks work in other government security forces. Members of the security forces committed numerous serious human rights abuses.
Mozambique is a very poor country. Approximately 80 percent of the population are employed in agriculture, mostly on a subsistence level, and approximately 75 percent of the population live in poverty. The primary exports are shrimp, sugar, cotton, and cashew nuts. The transition to a market economy continued during the year. In 1998 the gross domestic product (GDP) was about $3.4 billion, up over 10 percent in each of the last 3 years. Inflation was less than 5 percent in 1998. The economy and government budget remained heavily dependent on foreign aid. The economy had a $204 million trade deficit in 1998, down from $377 million deficit in 1995. Annual per capita income was approximately $180. High unemployment and underemployment in the formal and informal sectors continued. Corruption continued to be a problem in the public and private sectors.
The Government's human rights record, although poor in numerous areas, continued to show improvements in several others. Police continued to commit numerous abuses, including extrajudicial killings, excessive use of force, torture, and other abuses. Police officers tortured and beat persons in custody, and abused prostitutes and street children. Prison conditions remain extremely harsh and life-threatening; many prisoners died due to the harsh conditions. Police continued to use arbitrary arrest and detention, and lengthy pretrial detention was common. Fair and expeditious trails were not possible due to an inefficient, understaffed, and underfunded judiciary, which is dominated by the executive and subject to corruption. The Government generally respected freedom of the press; however, there were some limitations. Media outlets owned by the Government and State enterprises largely reflected the views of factions within the ruling party; however, the number and diversity of independent media increased, and their criticism of the Government, its leaders, and their families largely is tolerated. Human rights violations received extensive coverage in both government and independent media during the year. Both the Government and the law imposed some limits on freedom of association. The Government, at times, infringed on freedom of movement. The country's movement toward decentralization and expanding democracy progressed; the voter registration process was successful with 85 percent of the estimated eligible population registering to vote in the general elections. Domestic violence against women as well as widespread discrimination against women in employment and property rights, remained problems. The abuse and criminal exploitation of street children increased in urban areas, and child prostitution remained a problem. Discrimination against the disabled, child labor, and forced child labor remained problems. The media reported a few cases of trafficking in women and children. Occasional mob violence resulted in several deaths.
Section 1. Respect for Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom From:
a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing
There were no reports of political killings; however, there were a few reports of extrajudicial killing. In March relatives of a detainee accused police of killing him in Beira central prison. Authorities attributed the man's death to an unspecified illness; an eyewitness testified in March that he saw police beating the victim on the way to the prison. The case was referred by the Mozambican Human Rights League (LDH) to the Attorney General's office, but still was pending at year's end.
In October a new organization, Human Rights and Democracy (DHD), published a critical assessment of human rights conditions (see Section 4); among the complaints were alleged police killings.
Extremely harsh prison conditions and torture resulted in the deaths of some persons in custody (see Section 1.c.).
In 1998 a journalist in Cabo Delgado province reported that an accused thief, Cabral Manica, died while in police custody because of torture. The police officer allegedly responsible for Manica's death was convicted in June and sentenced to 3 months in prison.
There was no investigation into the 1998 death in police custody of Intipa Faque in the northern province of Nampula; nor was any action taken against the officers responsible.
The Government reportedly investigated the police killing of a demonstrator during a labor strike at a security services company in 1998; however, no report was released publicly, nor was any action taken against the officers responsible (see Section 6.a.).
An investigation was ongoing at year's end into the 1997 police killing of Eduardo Machava, allegedly for refusing a shakedown attempt.
Police denied wrongdoing in the 1997 killings of Abel Zefanias dos Anjos and Crescensio Sergio Muchange, and reportedly have not yet referred either case to the criminal investigation branch.
Occasional mob and vigilante killings continued in both urban and rural areas due to general public frustration with rising crime. In August a man in Maputo was caught stealing from a residence and was beaten by a crowd until the police intervened. Another man was beaten to death by a mob in a Maputo suburb after breaking into a residence.
Some of the hundreds of thousands of landmines still in the ground after decades of civil war caused 12 deaths during the year.
There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances; however, police were responsible for unexplained disappearances of prisoners.
The fate of thousands of citizens 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 and cruel or inhuman treatment; however, the police continued to commit serious abuses and torture, beatings, death threats, physical and mental abuse, extortion, and unexplained disappearances of some prisoners remained problems. From January to September, the LDH reported 78 complaints of torture, including several instances involving the mistreatment of women, beating, illegal detention, and death threats.
Corruption in the police forces extends throughout the ranks, and the PRM used violence and detention to intimidate persons from reporting abuses.
Journalists continued to report that police extorted money from street vendors, many of whom are widowed and divorced women, sometimes beating the women, and often stealing their merchandise. There also were reports of police abuse of prostitutes and street children (see Section 5).
The national budget allocated more funding for the hiring and training of police, as well as for higher salaries. New standards for the police force were imposed, requiring a minimum educational level of the tenth grade. A new police academy is scheduled to be opened in early 2000 to provide some university level training to police officers. Human rights training is becoming mandatory for all security officers, with human rights groups like the LDH teaching some of the courses. The LDH's president noted in October that there had been overall improvement in police performance.
There was some sporadic political violence related to the December elections, attributable to both RENAMO-UE and FRELIMO supporters (see Section 3).
Prison conditions in most of the country are extremely harsh and continued to pose a threat to inmates' health and lives. A LDH report released in January on the Beira central prison found that conditions remain significantly below minimum international standards. Latrine facilities are primitive; in some prisons, inmates must keep human waste in their cells until they persuade or bribe attendants to remove it. Food is substandard and scarce. Most prisoners receive only one meal per day on a regular basis. There are many deaths in prison, the vast majority due to illness and disease. In March after being transferred to Maputo Central Hospital, three minor prisoners died due to illness and an alleged lack of food while imprisoned. While the health problems of most inmates remain unattended, the Ministry of Health made specific efforts to address some of the more serious diseases in the prison system, including cholera, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS-related illnesses.
The Beira chapter of the LDH visited Beira central prison in December 1998, and January, and found that torture, death threats by agents of the State, extortion, physical and mental abuse, and unexplained disappearances of some prisoners still are problems. There are reported cases in which inmates complained of extortion, and of denial of visitation rights and medical care. During its visit the LDH noted a marked drop in the number of complaints from inmates from a high of 700 during a previous visit in 1998, to 300. In September a woman's prison, which included a prison school, was opened in Ndlavela.
In October the Ministry of Justice held a 4-day symposium on prison reform, seeking ways to improve conditions and the rehabilitation of inmates. In connection with the symposium, Justice Minister Jose Abudo admitted that the penal system was "imperfect and lacking, beset with serious structural problems that demanded profound reforms."
In November 1998, a newspaper reported the discovery of a clandestine prison in Buzi District, Sofala Province, where police allegedly detained prisoners in underground cisterns. Local authorities denied the existence of this illegal prison.
Two National Directorates of Prisons (DNP's), one under the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) and the other under the Ministry of Interior (MOI), operate prisons in all the provincial capitals. The DNP's also hold prisoners at an agricultural penitentiary in Mabalane and industrial penitentiaries in Nampula and Maputo. According to nongovernmental organization (NGO) sources, MOI inmates generally are unconvicted suspects who may have been interviewed by a judge but not sentenced, some of whom have been held for years (see Section 1.d.). MOJ inmates generally have been tried and sentenced in a conventional legal process. In most prisons, inmates under MOJ jurisdiction are imprisoned with those under MOI jurisdiction. Military and civilian prisoners are held in the same prisons.
Detention facilities remained severely overcrowded, generally housing four to six times the number of prisoners that they were built to accommodate. During the year, Beira central prison held 653 prisoners in a prison built to hold 200; Manica held 1,000 in a prison built to hold 300; Tete held 405 in a prison built to hold 90. Inhambane provincial prison held 150 in a prison built to hold 75; Nampula held 400 in a prison built for 70; and Pemba held 413 in a prison built for 90. Maputo central prison, built to hold 800 inmates, held 2,300, of whom 1,570 were awaiting trial. However, the Maputo Machava maximum security prison, with a capacity of 600, held considerably less than that.
Minors are incarcerated with adult inmates. During a visit to the Beira central prison in August, the Minister of Coordination of Social Action found 25 minors detained there. However, the LDH reported noticeably fewer minors held in detention nationwide. At times Maputo city prison houses children as young as 3 years of age, brought there by mothers sentenced for long periods for crimes.
International as well as domestic human rights groups may have access to prisoners at the discretion of the MOJ and MOI; however, officials sometimes cite unsanitary conditions or security risks as reasons to delay or cancel visits.
d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile
The Constitution provides that the duration of preventive imprisonment be set by law; however, the police continued to arbitrarily arrest and detain citizens in practice. Under the law, the maximum preventive imprisonment is 48 hours, during which time a detainee has the right to have his case reviewed by judicial authorities, after which he can be detained up to another 60 days while the case is investigated by the PIC. In cases where a person is accused of a very serious crime carrying a sentence of more than 8 years, he may be detained up to 84 days without being charged formally. If a court approves, such detainees may be held for two more periods of 84 days each without charge while the police complete the investigation process. 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 many cases, the authorities either are unaware of these regulations or ignore them, often also ignoring a detainee's constitutional right to counsel and to contact relatives or friends.
In February police detained a Pakistani imam for questioning in connection with the criminal investigation of the murder and decapitation of a young black man (see Section 2.c.). An investigating magistrate released the imam on bail after 8 days in detention, but ordered him to remain in the country for further questioning. In August the Imam was rearrested and remained in detention at year's end pending a trial.
In 1998 a radio journalist, Fernando Quinova, was detained without charge after reporting on Radio Mozambique that a prisoner died while in the custody of the police (see Section 2.a.). Quinova escaped from prison, but was rearrested on March 2, and charged with slandering the police and illegally leaking documents: neither charge exists under the Penal Code. On March 8, Quinova was freed after the media publicized his plight. In May the Cabo Delgado provincial court convicted a police commander of illegally detaining Quinova. The commander was fined approximately $44 (546,000 meticais) and ordered to pay Quinova approximately $240 (3 million meticais) in compensation.
Many persons complained that security officials often detained them for spurious reasons and demanded identification documents; many officers also demanded bribes to permit persons to continue toward their destinations. The media reported that citizens in Nampula province complained to authorities that police detained persons for not carrying identification documents, and demanded money when they could not produce documents. Many victims lived in areas where there was no notary public available to validate their documents. Many victims chose not to seek police assistance because of their usual demand for bribes or a lack of confidence that the police would help.
Most citizens also are unaware of their rights, particularly those provided by the Constitution, the law, and the Penal Process Code. As a result, detainees can spend many weeks, months, and even years in pretrial status. The bail system remains poorly defined, and prisoners, their families, and NGO's continue to complain that police and prison officials demand bribes to release prisoners.
Under the Penal Code, only those suspects caught in the act of committing a crime can be held in detention. Justice Ministry officials say that some police lack adequate training and do not know how to charge a person properly with a stated crime. An unfortunate detainee thus may be subjected to indefinite detention. The National Directorate of Prisons reported that there are an estimated 7,500 persons in the prison system, 4,758 of whom were detainees who had not been charged. In response to this problem, a legal enforcement commission convened in May and ordered cases of detainees to be reviewed so that those who had served their time or were being held illegally (without charge) could be released. In Beira alone, 230 prisoners were released from the central prison during May and June. The DHD report on human rights conditions released in October gave particular emphasis to the problem of arbitrary arrest and detention (see Section 4).
Drug cases are subject to a special regime. A 1996 law specifies that the legal period of preventive detention in drug trafficking cases is 10 days. The same law authorizes a long period of investigation – up to 9 months – in cases involving drug smuggling, drug production and transfer, and criminal association.
The Constitution expressly prohibits exile, and the Government does not use exile as a form of punishment.
e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
The 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; however the executive, and by extension the FRELIMO party, continued to dominate the judiciary, which is understaffed and manned by inadequately trained appointees. The DHD report on human rights conditions released in October gave particular emphasis to problems in the judiciary (see Section 4).
The President appoints the President and Vice President of the most important tribunal, the Supreme Court. Supreme Court nominations initially are prepared by the Supreme Higher Magistrate's Council (CSMJ), the body responsible for overseeing professional behavior among magistrates. The CSMJ, generally all FRELIMO party members, submits a list of qualified persons to the President of the Republic. The president then submits his choices to the National Assembly for approval. No assembly approval is needed for other judicial appointments.
There are two complementary formal justice systems: The civil/criminal system, and the military system. Civilians are not under the jurisdiction of, or tried in, military courts. A 1991 law empowered the Supreme Court to administer the civil/criminal system; it also hears appeals, including military cases, although the Ministry of Defense administers the military courts. Below the Supreme Court there are provincial and district courts. There also are courts that exercise limited, specialized jurisdiction, such as the administrative court, customs court, fiscal court, maritime court, and labor court. The Constitution called for the creation of a Constitutional Council, but the Government has not yet passed implementing legislation. In the absence of this body, the Supreme Court is tasked with ruling on issues of constitutionality, as it did when assessing the eligibility of presidential candidates for the general elections. In November the Supreme Court overruled the National Election Commission and allowed the United Front of Mozambique (FUMO) party to participate in the RENAMO-UE coalition (see Section 3). Persons 16 years old and younger fall under the jurisdiction of a court system for minors. Through this legal channel, the Government can send minors to correctional, educational, or other institutions. As with the provincial and district courts, the specialized and minor court systems are ineffective due to a lack of qualified professionals.
In August Supreme Court Chief Justice Mario Mangaze complained that only 25 percent of citizens had access to the official judicial system. Outside the formal court system, a number of local customary courts adjudicate matters such as estate and divorce cases. These courts are staffed by respected local arbiters who have no formal training but who exercise a substantial judicial and executive role, particularly in the area of arbitration.
Persons accused of crimes against the State are tried in regular civilian courts under standard criminal judicial procedures. The law provides definitions of crimes against the State, such as treason, terrorism, and sabotage. The Supreme Court has original jurisdiction over members of Parliament and other persons who are immune from trial in the lower courts. Early in the year, an administrative judge was arrested and detained for shooting a homeless man and is now on trial in the Supreme Court.
A judge may order a closed trial because of national security interests or to protect the privacy of the plaintiff in cases concerning rape.
In regular courts, all accused persons are in principle presumed innocent and have the right to legal counsel and the right of appeal; however, authorities do not always respect these rights. The great majority of the population is either unaware of these rights or does not possess the means to obtain any form of legal counsel. Although the law specifically provides for public defenders, such assistance is not available in practice, particularly in the rural areas. Some NGO's, such as LDH, the Government's National Institute for Legal Assistance, and the Mozambican Association of Women in Judicial Careers, continued to offer limited legal counsel at little or no cost to both defendants and prisoners.
A lack of licensed attorneys exacerbates the judicial system's weakness. There are an estimated 200 licensed attorneys in the country; the vast majority work in Maputo. There continued to be a shortage of qualified judicial personnel, with only 20 to 30 nationwide. There are appeals courts in all provinces, but few of these courts are staffed by formally trained judges, despite the fact that the Judicial Magistrates Statute requires a law degree. Some districts have no formal courts or judges at all. Several donor initiatives to remedy these shortages were continued or completed, including Danish and World Bank-financed training of district court judges and public prosecutors.
In 1998 while speaking at the opening of the Supreme Court session, Chief Justice Mangaze complained that a number of judges and others responsible to the courts are guilty of unacceptable practices, including corruption and bribe taking, chronic absence, unequal treatment, and deliberate delays and omissions in handling cases. Justice Mangaze also presides over the Higher Magistrate's Council (CSMJ), which expelled 23 judges for corruption since 1995. A Ministry of Justice official estimated that 16 judges have been removed from office since 1998, including three judges whose cases were heard during the year. In 1998 the National Assembly passed a law, which was implemented during the year, that speeds the implementation of CSMJ decisions affecting judges who appeal charges of misconduct, thus removing them from the bench more swiftly.
In November 1998, a young man accused of stealing from his employer was beaten, bound, and left in the sun by his employer, who accused him of stealing. His resulting injuries were so severe that both of his arms had to be amputated. The judge hearing the case was criticized widely by the press and public for only imposing a $40 (500,000 meticais) fine against the employer, who later absconded.
The Penal Code contains legal guidelines for the judicial treatment of minors and forbids the imprisonment of minors below the age of 20; however, there are many documented reports that some judges ordered the incarceration of minors in common prisons without trial (see Section 1.c.).
There were no reports of political prisoners.
f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence
The Constitution provides for the right of privacy and expressly forbids the use of surveillance techniques, and the Government generally respected these provisions. By law police need a warrant to enter homes and businesses. There were no documented reports of such search activity; however, some political groups suspected that their telephones were tapped by government intelligence agencies, and claimed that security forces kept watch on their activities.
Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties:
a. Freedom of Speech and Press
The Constitution, the 1991 Press Law, and the 1992 Rome Peace Accords provided for freedom of expression and of the press, and the Government generally respected these provisions; however, limitations on these freedoms are permitted if they relate to the media's obligations to respect the Constitution, human dignity, and imperatives of foreign policy and national defense. A media watchdog organization expressed concern that the vagueness of "imperatives of foreign policy and national defense" could lead to unwarranted restrictions. While criticism of the President is not prohibited, the 1991 Press Law holds that in cases of defamation against the President, truth is not a sufficient defense against libel. This law has not been tested in court; however, the President experienced considerable verbal and written criticism during the year – especially during the course of the electoral campaign – without invoking this clause.
Police harassment and detention of radio journalist Fernando Quinova continued in the beginning of the year (see Section 1.d.). Quinova was released in March after the media publicized his plight in the northern province of Cabo Delgado. The National Journalists Union and Radio Mozambique provided legal counsel. In May a police commander was convicted of illegally detaining Quinova. Another officer was convicted and sentenced to 3 months imprisonment in June for the death in custody of Cabral Manica, which Quinova reported. In April the Tete district court absolved the newspaper Fax Do Interior, of charges of defamation, which had been levied in 1997. In June a Maputo court dismissed a suit of libel brought by an opposition politician against the state-owned newspaper Domingo.
Government and state-owned media largely reflected the views of the ruling party, but many such media sources also carried significant criticism of the Government's handling of the local election administration. Media ownership is diversified – the U.N. Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Media Project estimated that 34 percent of the country's media were public, 36 percent were private commercial, and 28 percent were private nonprofit (church affiliated); however, the public category includes the country's only daily newspapers, the only Sunday newspaper, and the only weekly newsmagazine. Two progovernment newspapers – Noticias and Domingo – together with a third sports-oriented weekly are owned by a single corporation, Noticias Sarl, in which state-owned enterprises hold majority shares. Both evidenced blatant bias in favor of the ruling party, FRELIMO, during the election period; however Domingo continued pushing for reform of the justice system. In June one fairly modern government-owned printing press in Maputo was privatized.
A large number of periodicals and broadcasting entities have been licensed since 1992 and the independent media criticisms of government leaders and their families largely is tolerated. An independent publisher started a daily newspaper in Maputo during the year, but was forced to limit publications to one per week due to financial constraints. There were four independent weekly newspapers published in Maputo, and five other independent weekly journals published in provincial capitals. According to a survey by the Panos Institute, the nine weekly newspapers had a combined total circulation of 45,910. There are an additional 20 printed periodicals with a combined circulation of 34,000. There also are eight periodicals that transmitted daily editions electronically, with a combined subscription of more than 1,500. The second oldest faxed daily, Imparcial, is owned by RENAMO. Websites were developed during the year for several independent media. Only a small minority of the population receives news directly through either television or the print media.
While the Government no longer owns most radio and television stations, government stations are the only broadcasters capable of countrywide transmission; however, there are local and independent broadcasts in almost all urban areas. Government media are showing greater transparency in reporting and some independence of editorial content. Radio Mozambique, the public's most important source of information, is government owned, but its news coverage is considered unbiased and fair. Radio Mozambique receives the largest single subsidy from the state budget of any public company. It broadcasts in Portuguese and 18 indigenous languages; its external service broadcasts in English as well as in Portuguese for citizens in neighboring South Africa. Radio Mozambique regularly broadcasts public debates that include a variety of participants with differing opinions.
In addition to Radio Mozambique, there are 16 independent (primarily church-supported) and state-supported radio stations, most using local languages in addition to Portuguese, which have spread to over a dozen cities. One such station, Radio Terra Verde, is linked directly to the principal opposition party. Radio Terra Verde (RTV) is second only to Radio Mozambique's youth-oriented Radio Cidade in popularity, outside of broadcast times for soccer matches. Foreign radio programs, including the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Radio France International (RFI), Radio Diffusao Portugal (RDP)-Africa, and the Voice Of America (VOA) reach all major population centers and report local news via Mozambican-based part-time reporters; the BBC and the RFI carry news in Portuguese but broadcast most of the day in English and French, respectively.
TV Mozambique moved into a new Portuguese-built studio in 1998 and began broadcasting during the year. During the elections, TV Mozambique was biased towards the ruling party. Portuguese Television for Africa (RTP Africa) offers a second source of televised news to all parts of the country reached by TVM. Privately owned television transmission continued to be limited to Maputo; transmissions from Quelimane did not begin during the year due to financial constraints. International television news via cable in Maputo and via satellite is available nationwide.
A media development report released by UNESCO expressed concern about the strong concentration of national and local media in Maputo city and province, mirroring lopsided socio-economic development nationwide. Furthermore, a 1997 census revealed that 60.5 percent of citizens over age 15 are illiterate in any language and 70 percent of the population over 5 years of age do not speak Portuguese, which further limits the reach of the media beyond Maputo.
Article 19, a United Kingdom-based NGO, reported that the independent media are constrained by the high cost of newsprint, distribution, and equipment. It claimed that publications close to the Government have an advantage in securing exemptions from customs duties. In September UNESCO's Media Diversity Project announced that it would assist 24 private sector print and faxed journals from all provinces to lower their paper costs and strengthen their ability to negotiate better commercial arrangements with the now privatized Cegraf printing press in Maputo; however, this arrangement had not been finalized at year's end.
The National Union of Journalists (SNJ) continued to work with the Austrian Institute for North-South Development to improve working relationships between journalists and police officers. The SNJ defended the state-owned Diario de Mozambique journalists' right to strike for back pay and benefits in Beira.
Final debate on recommendations that membership in the media watchdog committee, the Higher Council of Social Communications (CSCS), be redefined to eliminate majority control by governmental appointees was deferred for another year. The CSCS was among the several organizations, including a joint operation by the LDH and Article 19, which monitored media fairness during the December presidential and parliamentary elections. The CSCS did not issue an evaluation of the elections by year's end.
The Prime Minister's weekly press conferences are important opportunities for journalists to discuss politics and government policies; however, they were suspended during the electoral campaign. The Prime Minister's information office seeks to facilitate international press access to key government officials and to provide policy guidance on how new media should be regulated. The Prime Minister's information office continues to monitor press content informally.
There are no formal restrictions on academic freedom. Private educational institutions, both church-related and secular, are well established and continued to expand in several cities. A new Islamic University announced in 1998 is not yet in active development. Students from Catholic University again served as election monitors during the year.
b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association
The Constitution provides for freedom of assembly, and the Government generally respects this right in practice. The law regulates public demonstrations but does not apply to private gatherings held indoors and by individual invitation, nor does it cover religious gatherings or election campaigning.
The law specifies some time limitations on the exercise of the right to gather or demonstrate peacefully. The law states that marches, parades, and processions cannot be held on Saturdays, Sundays, holidays, or between 5:00 p.m. and 12:30 a.m. on other days. The law provides for possible exceptions to this regulation, if justified, but such decisions are not made in an open and established manner. Further, the law states that any organizers of gatherings or demonstrations must submit a notice to civil and police authorities with at least 10 signatures, for the holding of any such demonstration, along with a justification of the purpose of the gathering. The law stipulates that the Government must reply to any such request within 2 days of receiving the request, and that no reply within this period shall be understood to mean governmental acceptance. During the election campaign, political parties were not required to request authorization to hold political rallies.
The law provides for freedom of association; however, both the Government and the law imposed some limits on this right. Legislation promulgated in 1991 sets forth the process for the registration of political parties. There are over 20 registered, active political parties. Under 1992 legislation, a political party must demonstrate that it has no racial, ethnic, or religious exclusiveness and secure at least 2,000 signatures of citizens in order to be recognized.
The Government requires nonpolitical groups such as NGO's and religious organizations to register. In 1998 the Government issued a decree regulating the registration and activates of foreign NGO's. NGO's must register their presence and scope of work with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; the Ministry then issues permits to those NGO's whose programs the Government decides complement its priorities. Observers believe that these new requirements worsen the already lengthy bureaucratic process that NGO's must follow to work in the country. Although the registration process is not always transparent and can take many months, the authorities rarely reject applications from new associations. The law forbids religious parties from organizing; however, there were no reports of government attempts to impede the right of association for political purposes during the year.
c. Freedom of Religion
The Constitution provides that all citizens have the freedom to practice or not to practice a religion, and gives religious denominations the right to pursue their religious aims freely, and the Government generally respects these rights in practice.
The 1989 Law on Religious Freedom requires religious institutions and missionary organizations to register with the Ministry of Justice, reveal their principal source of funds, and provide the names of at least 500 followers in good standing. No particular benefits or privileges are associated with the registration process. The Government requires foreign missionaries to register with the Office of Religious Affairs in the Ministry of Justice, but routinely grants visas and residence permits to them.
In February police detained a Pakistani imam for questioning in connection with a murder (see Section 1.d.). The media reaction to the detention sparked sharp public debate (see Section 5).
The law governing political parties specifically forbids religious parties from organizing, and any party from sponsoring religious propaganda.
The Constitution gives religious groups the right to own and acquire assets, and these institutions are allowed to operate schools. While virtually all places of worship nationalized by the State in 1977 have been returned to the respective religious organizations, the Catholic Church and certain Muslim communities complained that some other properties such as schools, health centers and residences unjustly remain in state hands, and continued to press for the return of such properties. The Government claimed that all "erroneously" nationalized properties have been returned. These complaints and the Government's responses to them have been aired in the press and debated in Parliament. The Conference of Catholic Bishops repeatedly raised this issue in its regular periodic meetings with the President, noting that many properties remain in state hands. In April an independent newsletter published a list of properties that the Government has failed to return, including Catholic schools and seminary properties in Inhambane, Maputo, Niassa, and Zambezia provinces, and a Muslim school in Sofala province. In 1998 the Catholic Church successfully negotiated for the return of many educational, social, and residential facilities that had remained in state hands.
d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation
The Constitution provides for the right to live anywhere within national territory and to travel within the country and abroad; however, at times authorities infringed on these rights.
Police traffic checkpoints occasionally affected freedom of movement, sometimes for security concerns. In an effort to reduce harassment and confiscation of travelers' possessions at the borders, customs supervisors levied disciplinary fines and fired abusive customs agents. In large cities, the police often stop foreign pedestrians and order them to present original passports or resident papers, sometimes refusing to accept notarized copies, and fining those who failed to show proper documents (most persons do not like to carry the originals of documents due to the risk of theft). Police also detained local citizens routinely for failure to carry identity papers and demanded bribes (see Section 1.d.).
The law includes provisions for the granting of refugee and asylee status in accordance with the provisions of the 1951 U.N. Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol. Mozambique continued to offer shelter to approximately 370 refugees from 7 African countries and Cuba in cooperation with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The Government operates two transit centers near Maputo. Niassa and Tete provinces have scattered groups of transients from Burundi, Rwanda, Angola, Somalia, and Liberia. Due to the heightened conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo, there were additional refugees in Niassa province. Refugee camp conditions continued to be poor, and some refugees claim to fear attack by fellow refugees on the basis of ethnicity. The UNHCR makes alternative shelter available to those who feel threatened. The Government offers first asylum, and offered it to some refugees during the year.
There were three cases of voluntary repatriation and no reports of the forced return of persons to a country where they feared persecution.
Section 3. Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their Government
The Constitution provides citizens with the right to elect their representatives in universal, direct, secret, and periodic elections, and in December citizens freely exercised their right to vote in the country's second multiparty general elections that international observers considered to be generally free and fair; however, the elections were marred by allegations of vote counting irregularities. President Chissano was returned to office with approximately 52 percent of the vote, and the ruling FRELIMO party won 133 of the 250 assembly seats. The largest opposition group, RENAMO-UE, made a strong showing in the elections, winning 117 seats in the Assembly and 48 percent of the presidential vote. Prior to the election, FRELIMO party members held all Cabinet positions and provincial governorships, since the President appoints governors. New cabinet members and governors had not been appointed by year's end.In September in an extraordinary session, the Assembly amended the electoral law by consensus to permit the general elections to be held on December 3-4. In November the Supreme Court overruled the National Election Commission and allowed the FUMO party to join the RENAMO-UE opposition coalition (see Section 1.e.).
Voter registration commenced on July 20 for 60 days. Despite some minor technical difficulties, including long lines and missing equipment, the registration process ran smoothly. Approximately 85 percent of the eligible voting population registered to vote. The 6-week campaign period was marked by some sporadic violence attributable to both FRELIMO and RENAMO-UE supporters (see Section 1.c.), although at significantly reduced levels than during the 1994 elections. Leaders of both parties called for an end to the violence.
According to international and domestic observers, the voting process was transparent, peaceful and orderly with approximately 75 percent of the population participating; however, international and domestic observers complained of a lack of full access to the vote count and the opposition coalition RENAMO-UE charged that there was fraud in the vote-counting process. There were a significant number of ballots on which preferences were unclear, largely due to illiteracy, which required interpretation by the Electoral Commission. The Commission also did not count tally sheets from several hundred polling stations at both the provincial or national level due to mathematical errors, omissions, and other problems. International observers were not given full access to the process of examining the contested ballots and tally sheets, or to the vote counting. RENAMO-UE charged that this affected them disproportionately because tally sheets were discarded from provinces where RENAMO-UE support was strong. RENAMO-UE took this issue and several others to the Supreme Court on December 23, and a few days later the Court unanimously rejected RENAMO-UE's complaints, acknowledging that there were some minor irregularities but concluding that these did not change the results of the elections.
Article 19 and the LDH monitored media coverage of the national electoral campaign. Radio Mozambique generally presented balanced coverage, whereas TVM was biased towards the ruling party. The government-supported newspapers Noticias, Diario de Mozambique, and Domingo demonstrated pro-government partisanship. The National Election Commission was criticized for categorizing these government-supported newspapers as private-sector media, thereby exempting them from the electoral law's requirement that public media provide fair and balanced treatment of all parties during the electoral campaign.
There are no legal restrictions hindering women's involvement in government; however, women are underrepresented in government and politics. Cultural factors inhibit women's effectiveness in public life (see Section 5). There were 62 women in the 250-member National Assembly, one female Cabinet minister, and three female vice ministers, before the December elections. The new National Assembly was not sworn in by year's end, nor had the President appointed a new Cabinet. FRELIMO's policy mandates that at least 30 percent of the party's two governing bodies must be women. During the year, the Political Commission met this mandate, while the Central Committee fell short by about 2 percent.
Section 4. Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights
There are no legal obstacles to the formation of domestic human rights groups, although registration procedures applying to NGO's are onerous and expensive (see Section 2.b.). In October a new organization, the DHD, published the first edition of what is to be an annual report on human rights conditions in the country. The report's critical assessment gave particular emphasis to problems in the judiciary, conditions in prisons, and arbitrary arrest and detention of citizens. Among the complaints were alleged police killings, domestic violence, labor disputes, and land title conflicts. The DHD and the LDH conduct human rights education seminars and workshops for a wide range of audiences including political parties, security agencies, businesses, and NGO's.
The Government responded to human rights-related inquiries from Amnesty International, Transparency International, the LDH, and the DHD on a case-by-case basis. Other rights-oriented groups also have had contact with the Government.
Section 5. Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability, Language, or Social Status
The Constitution forbids discrimination based on race, sex, religion, or disability; however, in practice discrimination against women and the disabled persists.
Although official statistics are not kept, according to health officials, women's groups, and other sources, domestic violence against women – particularly rape and beating – is widespread. Many women believe that their spouses have the right to beat them, and cultural pressures discourage women from taking legal action against abusive spouses. There is no law that defines domestic violence as a crime; however, domestic violence can be prosecuted under other crimes such as rape, battery, and assault. During the year, the NGO Women, Law, and Development (MULEIDE) registered 300 requests for assistance in cases involving domestic violence, of which 70 were forwarded to the courts. The police normally do not intervene in domestic disputes. Hospitals usually do not ascribe evidence of physical abuse to domestic violence. The DHD report on human rights conditions released in October gave particular emphasis to the problem of domestic violence (see Section 4).
A group of women's NGO's, including Women in Law and Development, Mozambican Women in Education, Women in Judicial Careers, and the FRELIMO-sponsored Mozambican Women's Organization, support the organization Everybody Against Violence, which serves as a monitoring and educational group for issues of domestic violence and sexual abuse of women and children, including counseling of victims and mediating within families. The organization continued to expand during the year. All NGO's actively opposing domestic violence worked to involve police in education, enforcement, and identifying domestic violence as a public order problem.
Despite constitutional provisions for the equality of men and women in all aspects of political, economic, social, and cultural life, the civil and commercial legal codes contradict one another and the Constitution. Under the law of the Family and Inheritance, the husband or father is the head of household, and both wives and daughters must obtain male approval for all legal undertakings. For example, a woman must have the written approval of her husband, father, or closest male relative in order to start a business. Without such approval, a woman cannot lease property, obtain a loan, or contract for goods and services. The legal domicile of a married woman is her husband's house, and she may work outside the home only with the express consent of her husband. While it appears that these legal restrictions on women's freedom are not enforced commonly, especially in the informal economy, they leave women open to extortion and other pressures.
Family law provides that a married couple's assets belong to the husband, who has full authority to decide on their disposition. When a husband dies, his widow is only fourth in line (after sons, fathers, and brothers) to inherit the household goods. A contradictory provision of the law states that a widow is entitled to one-half of those goods that are acquired during the marriage, but in practice women rarely know of or demand this right.
Customary law varies within the country. In some places, it appears to provide women less protection than family law, and unless a marriage is registered, a woman has no recourse to the judicial branch for enforcement of the rights provided her by the civil codes.
A new Land Law was adopted in 1997; sections pertaining to rural areas came into force in 1998, and those related to urban areas became effective during the year. The law is expected to have a significant effect on women, who are the primary cultivators of family land. Under customary law, they often had no rights to the disposition of the land. The revised Land Law specifically permits women to exercise rights over community land held through customary rights. However, domestic NGO's such as the Rural Women's Development Association and Rural Mutual Assistance Association have cautioned that a considerable investment of time and education would be necessary before the new rights granted to women would supersede traditional practice.
The Constitution grants citizenship to the foreign-born wife of a male citizen, but not to the foreign-born husband of a female citizen.
Women continued to experience economic discrimination in practice. Women constitute slightly more than half the population but are responsible for two-thirds of economic production, according to the 1997 census. The Presidential Minister for Social and Economic Affairs reported that women in the workplace receive lower pay than men for the same work. According to Members of Parliament who debated the proposed revision of the Labor Law, women are subject to sexual harassment and to discrimination in hiring because of potential absences on maternity leave; although the Labor Law entitles a woman to 60 days of maternity leave, employers often violate this right. The Government continued to target maternal and child health and focused on immunizations for women in childbearing years and for young children. The Ministry of Health estimates that the rate of maternal mortality is 662 per 100,000. Numerous other health and community development NGO's also emphasize programs to improve women's health and increasingly are looking to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS and related health problems.
The Government has made children's rights and welfare a priority, but admits that some children are in trouble. Primary education is not compulsory. More than 1000 new primary schools opened during the year throughout the country; however, schools are overcrowded, and there is much corruption in the school system. Newspapers frequently reported that the parents of school children had to bribe teachers, or that girls exchanged, or were forced to exchange, sex with teachers for passing grades. The 1997 census estimated that some 50 percent of children of ages 6 through 10 are in primary school. Only a fraction of children continue with secondary studies.
An NGO, the Association for Mozambican Children (ASEM), opened 2 alternative-learning centers during the year for more than 900 children who were not able to return to their regular schools after being expelled from their homes or because they had left school to work. During the year, the Government supplied ASEM with textbooks.
Girls continued to have less access to education than boys above the primary level: 42 percent of students in grades 1 through 5 were girls, and 40 percent of students in grades 6 through 10 were girls. The percentage increased to 48.4 percent for grades 11 and 12. However, there are only 82 public secondary schools nationwide, of which only 18 offer classes through grade 12. About 76 percent of females over 15 years of age are illiterate. Outside the main cities, secondary schools are fewer, and where boarding is required for attendance, the number of female students drops significantly. In a case that gained national attention in 1998, residents of Morrumbene district in Inhambane Province demanded the exclusion of girls from the dormitories at the Cambine secondary school. In the absence of separate boarding facilities, local residents blamed schoolgirls for immoral behavior in the community and pressured authorities to comply with the illegal demand, which effectively prevented many girls from attending the school. The few out-of-town girls who remained to study were forced to live in unprotected shacks.
NGO's and the Government took some steps to protect and reintegrate into families or other supervised conditions an estimated 3,000 street children in the Maputo metropolitan area. Street children sometimes are beaten by police and frequently are victims of sexual abuse. Some remedial government programs continued, including programs on education, information dissemination, health care, and family reunification. The 1997 census found that the mortality rate for infants was 145 per 1,000, and for children under the age of 5 it was 116 per 1,000. The Maputo City Social Action Coordination Office continued its program of rescuing abandoned orphans and assisting single mothers who head families of three or more persons. The same group offered special classes to children of broken homes in local schools. Other NGO groups sponsored food, shelter, and education programs in all major cities. The Association for Mozambican Children, in Beira, also provided counseling to parents who have expelled children from their homes, usually when a wife has children unacceptable to a new husband.
Social workers found that some parents of disabled children in several districts, including the populous towns of Gorongosa and Dondo, did not permit their children to leave their homes. In 1998 social workers made similar findings in Sofala. Provincial social action officials continued their educational campaign to reverse traditional attitudes toward disabled children.
Authorities in several provinces took steps to combat child prostitution; however, sexual abuse and exploitation of children below the age of 15 continued (see Sections 6.c. and 6.f.). In Sofala province, where child prostitution flourishes along the Beira development corridor (frequented by truck drivers, businessmen, and tourists), the Government established information centers in affected areas to provide information to families and friends of children who are raped and exploited, and counseled them on how to deal with the police, public prosecutors, and judges.
In May an Africa-wide conference on child soldiers was held in Maputo to consider the reintegration of child soldiers into civil society. The resulting "Maputo Declaration" called for an end of the use of child soldiers and for pressure to be placed on nations in violation. The conference was supported by the Government, political parties, and religious organizations. The NGO Restore Hope was successful in obtaining a promise from the Defense Ministry that former child soldiers would not be conscripted.
There were reports that children often were used as bargaining chips to settle financial and other disputes in rural areas (see Sections 6.c. and 6.f.). According to Domingos do Rosario, a sociologist with the Cultural Patrimony Department, children sometimes were used as labor to settle outstanding economic accounts in rural areas.
There are numerous reports that children are incarcerated with adults in prisons throughout the country (see Sections 1.c. and 1.e.).
People with Disabilities
The Constitution states that "disabled citizens shall enjoy fully the rights" that it provides for; however, the Government provided few resources to implement this provision. Representatives of disabled groups and wounded veterans frequently protested that societal discrimination continues against the disabled. Victims of landmine detonations are among the most visible disabled citizens. About 1.9 percent of citizens are physically or mentally disabled.
Disabled women protested in 1998 that the Government only provided four schools nationwide for hearing and vision impaired persons and for the physically and mentally disabled. There are few job opportunities for disabled persons in the formal sector, although the 1997 census reported that 55 percent of disabled persons worked or held a job.
Social workers found that some parents of disabled children in several districts, including the populous towns of Gorongosa and Dondo, did not permit their children to leave their homes. Provincial social action officials continued their educational campaign to reverse traditional attitudes toward disabled children.
The Government continued to rely on NGO's to assist the disabled. Founded in 1991, the Association of Mozambican Disabled addresses social and economic needs of the disabled. Smaller NGO's also have formed, notably the Association of Handicapped Military and Paramilitary Mozambicans, which represents disabled demobilized soldiers, and the Association of Blind and Visually Impaired Mozambicans. There is a new organization in Pemba for hearing-impaired persons.
On June 23, the Cabinet issued a resolution that approved the first national policy on disabled persons, and laid out principles and strategies aimed at encouraging their active participation in the country's socio-economic development. The plan is scheduled to be implemented in 2000 and would address, in part, concerns of the disabled regarding access to public buildings and the government infrastructure.
A major concern of the disabled is accessibility to buildings and transportation. The only provisions that the Government has enacted for accessibility to buildings and transportation for the disabled were in the electoral law governing the country's first multiparty elections, which addressed the needs of disabled voters in the polling booths. Special access facilities are rare.
Relations among communities of different faiths generally are amicable, especially at the grassroots level. However, there has been a longstanding racial division within the Muslim community, particularly between black and Indian Muslims.
In February the police detained and questioned a Pakistani imam in connection with a murder (see Sections 1.a and 2.c.). In April a state-owned newspaper stated in a series of poorly documented articles that the imam had confessed to the crime. The newspaper's allegations unleashed an intense debate in Parliament and the media and included accusations that the press was anti-Muslim, that black Muslims and Indian Muslims harbored racial prejudices against each other, and that Indian Muslims were involved in drug trafficking and organized crime.
There was no systematic persecution or discrimination on the basis of race or ethnicity; however, the FRELIMO Government traditionally has included at all levels a large number of southerners, mostly from the Shangaan ethnic group, which has engendered complaints from residents of other parts of the country. There also were complaints against the Government that it favors economic development in the southern part of the country over other areas. To address such complaints, the Government has taken some steps to correct the imbalance since the 1994 elections by appointing provincial governors native to their respective provinces. The Government also includes in senior positions persons originally from the northern part of the country.
Section 6. Worker Rights
a. The Right of Association
The Constitution provides that all workers are free to join or refrain from joining a trade union, and workers enjoy these rights in practice. Labor relations are governed by the 1991 Labor Law, which protects workers' rights to organize and engage in union activities, and the 1985 Labor Law which was revised and promulgated in 1998. Some observers fear that free trade zones created under the revised 1998 law would refuse to honor existing rights.
Until 1992 the only trade union federation was the Organization of Mozambican Workers (OTM), which was affiliated with, and dominated by, the FRELIMO party. Three unions broke away from the OTM in 1992, and by 1994 had formed their own central union, the Free and Independent Union of Mozambique (SLIM). In January the Ministry of Labor recognized this second central union as a legal entity, known as the Confederation of Free and Independent Unions of Mozambique (CONSILMO). CONSILMO is permitted to participate in national negotiations on the minimum wage with the Consultative Labor Commission, a body including representatives from labor, private employers, and Government. CONSILMO maintained the SLIM's working relationship with the OTM, and includes the powerful 28,000-member Sinticim construction trades union, an early champion of the rights of female workers.
In 1994 the OTM declared itself free of commitments to any political party, companies, or religious groups, and ruled that members affiliated with any political party could not hold elected union offices. Independent unions maintain that the OTM is not independent of the Government. A new organization, the Committee of Women Workers, protested the industrial trend of laying off women before men whenever possible, citing the loss of 120 jobs in Sofala alone during the year.
The Constitution explicitly provides for the right to strike, with the exception of civil servants, police, military personnel, and other essential services (which include sanitation, fire fighting, air traffic control, health care, water, electricity, fuel, post office, telecommunications, and grave digging). In January unskilled construction workers struck at the Mozal Aluminum smelter project in protest of certain allegedly unsafe working conditions, and to protest their perception of a wage disparity with marginally more skilled workers brought in from South Africa. The dispute lasted a few days and was resolved after a pledge by Mozal managers to heighten job site occupational safety.
Provisions of the 1991 Labor Law forbid retribution against strikers, the hiring of substitute workers, and lockouts by employers. Specific labor disputes generally are arbitrated through special workers' committees, formally recognized by the Government.
Two members of the workers' committee of a security services company were suspended from their duties after giving advance notification of a January 1998 strike action to company management. The law specifies that strikers must notify police, government, union, and employers 48 hours in advance of intended strikes. The firm charged the two with illegally representing employees who were protesting the company's failure to answer a wage and benefits appeal made in late 1997 and with allegedly assaulting company managers. Their case has not yet been resolved.
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.
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. In 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. The Consultative Commission on Labor met periodically to negotiate changes in the minimum wage. In 1998 for the first time since independence, the country's banks, which are entirely privatized, signed a collective bargaining agreement, regulating the labor relationship between bank management and staff.
The law provides for the creation of export processing zones (EPZ's); however, no firms began production in an EPZ during the year.
c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor
Forced or compulsory labor is prohibited by law; however, while there were no reports of such practices in the formal economy, there were reports that persons were trafficked into neighboring countries (see Section 6.f.) The law does not prohibit forced and bonded labor by children specifically, and such practices occur, especially within an extended family. Children in rural areas sometimes are used as labor to settle economic accounts, with their families delegating their children to work limited periods of time (see Sections 5, 6.d., and 6.f.).
d. Status of Child Labor Practices and Minimum Age for Employment
The Ministry of Labor regulates child labor, although there are no specific child labor statutes. In rural areas, children sometimes work alongside their parents or independently in seasonal harvests or commercial plantations. Employers normally do not pay children wages for such work, but compensate them with gifts such as school supplies and books.
In the wage economy, the minimum working age is 18 years. The recently revised Labor Law sets the minimum age at 15. Children between the ages of 15 and 18 may work with the permission of their parents and the Ministry of Education. Children younger than the age of 15 are not permitted to work. The minimum wage laws apply and the maximum workweek for children is 38 hours.
Because of high adult unemployment in the formal sector, estimated at around 50 percent, few children are employed in regular wage positions; however, children, including those under age 15, 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. The informal labor sector is unregulated. Children also are employed in domestic positions, and in a September newspaper survey, labor union representatives noted the growing presence of children in construction jobs.
Primary education is not compulsory, and less than 50 percent of school-age children attend classes. Children not in school frequently are employed in the agricultural and casual labor sectors.
The law does not specifically prohibit forced and bonded labor by children, and such practices are known to occur in rural areas (see Sections 5, 6.c., and 6.f.).
e. Acceptable Conditions of Work
The industrial minimum wage of approximately $35 (450,000 meticais) per month, is set by ministerial decree, although the level is recommended through an administrative process. There is also an agricultural minimum wage of about $24 (305,000 meticais), which is set by ministerial decree after informal consultation with agricultural unions. Neither minimum wage is considered sufficient to provide a decent standard of living for an average worker and family, and many workers must turn to a second job, if available; maintain their own gardens; or depend on the income of other family members to survive. The OTM calculates that the real minimum wage fell 33 percent in the past decade.
The Ministry of Labor is responsible for enforcing the minimum wage rates in the private sector, and the Ministry of Finance in the public sector. Violations of minimum wage rates usually are investigated only after workers register a complaint. It is customary for workers to receive benefits such as transportation and food in addition to wages. There is an obligation for workers or employers to participate in a social security scheme, although they voluntarily may create and contribute to private accounts or plans with the National Institute of Social Security, to cover retirement, unemployment compensation, and emergency benefits. Worker complaints grew of employers deducting social security contributions from wages but failing to pay them into accounts.
The standard legal workweek is 44 hours, with a weekly 24-hour rest period.
In the small formal sector, the Government has enacted health and environmental laws to protect workers. However, the Ministry of Labor enforces these laws ineffectively, and the Government only occasionally has closed firms for noncompliance. The Labor Ministry reported 730 industrial accidents during the year, with 36 deaths. Most of these accidents were blamed on unsafe practices or the lack of safety equipment. During the parliamentary debate in 1998 on revision of the Labor Law, delegates noted that there continued to be significant violations of labor legislation in many companies and services. Workers have the right to remove themselves from work situations that endanger their health or safety without jeopardy to their continued employment.
f. Trafficking in Persons
There are no specific laws that prohibit trafficking in persons, although trafficking can be addressed under labor, immigration, and child welfare laws; however, there were credible reports that there is some trafficking in persons, primarily women and children, to South Africa and Swaziland. Both countries apparently offer economic opportunities that attract poor women and children, who sometimes are victimized by traffickers. On occasion, the media reported that citizens worked in foreign countries for low wages or in poor conditions. In August there were several press reports about the discovery of a group of Mozambican women held against their will in a brothel in South Africa. The women had been recruited in Mozambique to work as domestic servants, and after they arrived in South Africa they were forced to work as prostitutes. There have been other credible reports of that citizens were lured into South Africa by Nigerian and other organized crime syndicates based in South Africa by promises of jobs and decent wages, and then held as near-slaves on farms and other enterprises.
There were reports that children in rural areas often were used as bargaining chips to settle financial and other disputes in rural areas (see Sections 5 and 6.c.). Families delegate their children to work limited periods of time to settle economic debts.