Amnesty International Report 2006 - Mozambique
|Publication Date||23 May 2006|
|Cite as||Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 2006 - Mozambique, 23 May 2006, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/447ff7b138.html [accessed 29 March 2015]|
Over 800,000 people needed food aid as a result of prolonged drought. Some 200,000 people were still unable to access anti-retroviral drugs and other treatment for HIV infection. High death rates from AIDS-related illnesses seriously affected economic and social development. Police officers were charged with extrajudicial executions, ill-treatment of suspects and extortion, and were imprisoned to await trial. However, others accused of using excessive force against protesters were not subject to independent investigation or brought to justice. Violence between supporters of ruling and opposition parties led to deaths and the destruction of homes. Restrictions on freedom of the press remained, and journalists faced harassment and assault.
Armando Guebuza was sworn in as the new President in February. He pledged to consolidate national unity, to promote human rights and democracy, and to fight poverty, corruption and crime. In March, the new government launched a five-year programme aimed at good governance, transparency in public services management, and public security.
The judiciary remained seriously understaffed, with just over 1,000 officials, including 184 judges, serving a population of nearly 19 million. As a result, people often took justice into their own hands.
Steps to combat drug trafficking, acts of terrorism and other organized crime included the deployment of special police anti-terrorist brigades in all airports from July. However, efforts to curb rising crime were undermined by the deaths each year of around 1,000 police officers from AIDS-related illnesses.
Efforts to combat corruption included the upgrading in September of the Anti-Corruption Unit to a Central Office for Combating Corruption, with increased staffing and resources. The Anti-Corruption Unit, an investigation unit independent of the police, had proved its effectiveness in the investigation and subsequent prosecution of several high-profile cases.
In December Mozambique ratified the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People's Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa and the protocol establishing the African Court of Justice.
Food shortages and HIV infection
Poverty remained widespread, with over half the population reported to be living on less than one US dollar a day. Over 800,000 people were affected by food shortages and in need of food aid. Severe drought in central and south Mozambique caused widespread crop failures and inflated prices.
The rate of HIV infection among people aged between 15 and 49 was 15.6 per cent, the National Statistics Institute announced in June. Only one per cent of children with HIV had access to anti-retroviral or other drugs.
There were fewer allegations of police torture of detainees than in previous years. Some action was taken to discipline or prosecute police officers, particularly in Manica province. There, following an investigation by the provincial Procurator in November, 14 police officers were charged with various offences, including the assault and extrajudicial execution of suspects, extortion and theft. At least five extrajudicial executions occurred in the first half of 2005. The officers were imprisoned to await trial. According to reports, one was charged with attempted murder for trying to shoot the Procurator during an interrogation session. The trial, set for December, was postponed and had not started by the end of 2005.
- After a robbery at a national electricity premises in Chimoio in April and an exchange of fire with the police, two suspects were reportedly captured and killed in police custody. Four police officers were arrested in August and subsequently charged with stealing proceeds from the robbery that had been recovered but later went missing. In November, two of them were also charged with the killing of the suspects.
- In August officers of the Rapid Intervention Police and the public order police harassed and beat people in the Munhava area of Beira, a stronghold of the Mozambique National Resistance (Renamo) party, allegedly for not carrying identity cards.
- In June municipal police officers in Maputo assaulted and briefly detained two photojournalists who took pictures for the Zambeze newspaper of officers chasing street vendors and seizing their goods. The police commander later apologized publicly and promised to punish those responsible.
The force used by the police to break up protests appeared to be excessive, and no investigations were conducted into whether force and firearms were appropriately used.
- In July the Rapid Intervention Police and other police units used tear gas to disperse a peaceful demonstration in the Xipamanine market in Maputo against the removal of unauthorized traders.
- In September the police beat and opened fire on vendors in the Limpopo market in Xai-Xai, Gaxa province, who were marching to the municipal offices to complain about conditions in the market. Two people were arrested for throwing stones at the police.
- Rapid Intervention Police officers reportedly assaulted striking students who set up barricades at the Eduardo Mondlane University in Maputo to protest at new scholarship regulations. Eleven students were said to have required medical treatment for fractures and other injuries.
Politically motivated violence erupted in Mocimboa da Praia, Cabo Delgado province, between supporters of the ruling Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (Frelimo) and the Mozambique National Resistance-Electoral Union (RUE) over disputed municipal elections won by Frelimo in May. RUE accused Frelimo of rigging the elections and in September installed a parallel local authority, prompting three days of violence. Twelve people, including a police officer, were killed; 47 were injured; and nearly 200 houses were burned in Mocimboa da Praia and the nearby town of Muindumbe. Thirty-six people were subsequently arrested. There was no official inquiry into the incident. The Mozambican Human Rights League concluded that both parties had been responsible for the violence.
Press freedoms restricted
Journalists faced harassment and official impediments to their work.
- In March the news media were denied access to a trial for criminal libel, an offence punishable by up to one year's imprisonment. The accused were Teodoro de Abreu, former editor of the Demos newspaper, and Momad Assi Satar, the author of an open letter to the Attorney General and in prison since being convicted of the murder in 2000 of Carlos Cardoso, a journalist investigating fraud and corruption. The open letter, published by Demos in August 2004, said the Attorney General was complicit in delaying investigations into allegations that the son of former President Joaquim Chissano was implicated in the murder. In March the libel trial was suspended in response to a defence complaint that the Attorney General was represented in court by one of his subordinates. It had not resumed by the end of 2005.
- In August journalist Isaías Natal said that he had been threatened with death by a Frelimo official in Sofala province after the Zambeze newspaper published an article about the defection of two Frelimo members to another party.