Covering events from January - December 2003
Many people faced food shortages as a result of floods and drought. Important trials represented some progress in tackling corruption. Despite police reforms, there were a number of allegations of torture and of excessive use of force and firearms. There were reports of trafficking in people and body parts.
Hundreds of thousands of people suffered food shortages as a result of floods in the north and centre and drought in the centre and south of the country. In June the government set up a research body to monitor its poverty reduction programs which included strategies for gender equality and combating HIV/AIDS.
In March the government declared that it had fulfilled its obligations under the Ottawa Convention by destroying its last stocks of anti-personnel landmines. Some minefields remained to be cleared at the end of the year.
Former soldiers of the Resistência Nacional Moçambicana (RENAMO), Mozambique National Resistance, who continued to guard RENAMO's former military stronghold in Marínguè, Sofala province, reportedly surrounded the local police station for several hours in September.
Elections in 23 urban and 10 rural municipalities in November returned the ruling Frente da Libertação de Moçambique (FRELIMO), Front for the Liberation of Mozambique, to power in most areas. The RENAMO-União Eleitoral, RENAMO-Electoral Union, which had boycotted municipal elections in 1998, gained a majority in Beira and three other areas.
In December the Assembly of the Republic passed a new family law establishing gender equality.
Steps to end impunity for corruption and organized crime
In January, six men were convicted of the murder of Carlos Cardoso, editor of a daily newspaper, in November 2000. The journalist had been investigating a US$14 million fraud at the state-run Commercial Bank. Two businessmen and a former bank manager were convicted of contracting the murder of Carlos Cardoso and the three others of carrying out the killing. Five received prison terms of 23 years and six months each, and one, Aníbal dos Santos Júnior, was sentenced in absentia to 28 years' imprisonment for the murder and related offences. In December the Attorney General visited the six men in prison after hearing that they were being held in leg-cuffs or chains, apparently as a security measure. He declared such restraint illegal. A few days later, the businessmen and bank manager went on trial in connection with the bank fraud.
In September a court acquitted seven police officers who had been charged with assisting Aníbal dos Santos Júnior to escape from prison in September 2002. The judge said that the defendants had been used as scapegoats to "protect those who were untouchable". Investigations continued into the murder of economist António Siba-Siba Macuácua in August 2001.
He had been investigating corrupt practices and attempting to recover bad debts which had led to the collapse of the Austral Bank in April 2001.
The National Assembly passed an anti-corruption law in October compelling high-ranking civil servants to declare their wealth on taking up their posts.
Torture and excessive use of police force
There were further reports of torture, although 2003 saw a decrease in such reports.
- Paramilitary police arrested Francisco Alberto Come in Maputo in January without giving a reason. They reportedly beat him with batons and kicked and punched him, inflicting serious wounds, and then took him to a police station. He was subsequently hospitalized. The Mozambique Human Rights League (MHRL) lodged complaints with the police and the Procurator General's Office, but no criminal investigation had apparently been initiated by the end of the year.
Police shot dead criminal suspects in circumstances which suggested inadequate training in the use of force and firearms. In some cases the police announced that inquiries were being held but the results of such investigations were apparently not made public.
- Virgílio Amade, a former worker in the former German Democratic Republic (GDR), died after being hit by a police bullet in Maputo in September during one of the regular demonstrations in support of the GDR workers' pay claims. A ballistics investigation reportedly confirmed that the bullet came from a police weapon. A criminal investigation was ongoing at the end of the year.
- A police officer was detained after shooting dead 18-year-old Carlos Faruca in Beira in October. The officer reportedly claimed that he had acted in self defence when Carlos Faruca and other unarmed youths tried to steal his mobile telephone. He was detained awaiting trial at the end of the year.
Reports indicated that networks of traffickers took women and girls to South Africa to serve in the sex trade or in other forms of forced labour. Some victims were reportedly lured by the offer of jobs while others were said to have been taken there by force.
There were also reports of a trade in body parts, apparently for ritualistic purposes. Many of the victims were children.
- A woman saved the life of a nine-year-old boy whom she found beside a road in Chimoio in October. His genitals had been removed. According to reports, a businessman had offered money to procure the genitals and an intermediary contracted a man and a woman to carry out the mutilation. After intensive pressure from the Beira office of the MHRL, all four were arrested. At the end of the year they were still awaiting trial.
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