Republic of Mozambique
Head of state and government: Filipe Jacinto Nyussi
No one was held responsible for the murder of a constitutional law expert who stated that a proposal by the opposition party on provincial autonomy was constitutional. The Public Prosecutor charged two men with a crime against the security of the state for criticizing former President Armando Guebuza. A new Penal Code came into force. Draft laws impacting on the rights of women and girls were passed into law.
Filipe Nyussi of the Mozambique Liberation Front (FRELIMO), the ruling party, was sworn in as President on 15 January, after winning 57% of the votes cast in October 2014.
Afonso Dhlakama, leader of the Mozambican National Resistance (RENAMO), the main opposition party, rejected the election outcome and boycotted the opening of Parliament in January. Throughout the year, RENAMO campaigned for provincial autonomy in the central and northern regions, where the party claimed it had taken the majority of votes. In April, Parliament rejected a bill put forward by RENAMO that aimed to formalize regional autonomy.
In September, clashes between national armed forces and RENAMO's militia resumed following several months of post-electoral tension. On 13 September, Afonso Dhlakama's convoy was hit by gunfire while he was campaigning in Manica province. The result of an investigation into the incident was still pending at the end of the year.
A stagnation of the country's poverty level in the past decade contributed to fuelling social clashes.
In October, the Council of Ministers approved the Regulation of the Access to Information Law, which had come into force in December 2014. The law established the responsibility of governmental authorities and private entities with regard to the release and dissemination of information that is in the public interest; deadlines for providing the information; and a legal mechanism whenever a request for information is denied.
A new Penal Code came into force in July. It includes a number of positive revisions such as the decriminalization of abortion, the option of non-custodial sentences as an alternative to prison, and the criminalization of actions that are destructive to the environment.
Under the new Code, abortion is legal when the pregnancy poses a risk to the mother's or the foetus' health, when it is the result of rape or incest, or when the abortion is undertaken during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy by a qualified health professional at an official health centre.
The need to approve the Regulation on the decriminalization of abortion and the fact that the Criminal Procedure Code has not been revised constitute an obstacle for the implementation of the new legislation.
FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
On 19 June, the Public Prosecutor formally charged Carlos Nuno Castel-Branco with a crime against the security of the state for defaming former President Armando Guebuza. The accusation was based on an open letter published on Carlos Nuno Castel-Branco's Facebook page in November 2013, which criticized Armando Guebuza's governance record.
The Facebook post was later published in Mediafax, a newspaper. Fernando Mbanze, editor of Mediafax, was charged with "abusing freedom of the press" and breaching the State Security Law. On 16 September, the Kampfumo Municipal District Court acquitted both men on the grounds that publishing a letter did not qualify as a crime under Mozambican law. The Public Prosecutor appealed against the Court's decision. The Court had not yet decided on the appeal at the end of the year.
On 3 March, Gilles Cistac, a constitutional law expert, was shot dead by four gunmen in Maputo, the capital. A prominent academic, he had publicly stated that RENAMO's proposal on provincial autonomy was constitutional, drawing criticism from FRELIMO. Hundreds of human rights activists and students marched in Maputo on 7 March, calling for justice for his murder. The police publicly launched an investigation into his killing but those responsible had not been identified by the end of the year.
For the third year running, no action was taken to hold anyone to account for the arbitrary and unlawful detention of José Capitine Cossa. He was detained without charge or trial in Machava Maximum Security Prison and released in 2012.
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