Annual Report: Mozambique 2011

Report
May 28, 2011

Annual Report: Mozambique 2011

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Head of state: Armando Guebuza
Head of government: Aires Bonifacio Baptista Ali (replaced Luísa Días Diogo in January)
Death penalty: abolitionist for all crimes
Population: 23.4 million
Life expectancy: 48.4 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f): 162/144 per 1,000
Adult literacy: 54 per cent

The police committed human rights violations including extrajudicial executions and arbitrary arrests. Police used live ammunition during protests, killing 14 people and injuring more than 400. There were reports of torture and other ill-treatment in prisons.

Background

In January, President Armando Guebuza was sworn in for a second term. In the same month he replaced Prime Minister Luísa Días Diogo with Aires Bonifacio Baptista Ali.

At least 10 people were killed during lynchings by community members that occurred throughout the country in 2010. Scores of others were seriously injured during attempted lynchings. The majority of these incidents occurred in Sofala province.

A number of prison escapes occurred. In January, 51 prisoners escaped from a prison in Nampula, of whom seven were recaptured. In March, three prisoners escaped from the maximum security prison in Maputo and in October a further 17 prisoners escaped from a prison in Nampula. Seven guards were arrested in connection with the Maputo escape.

Hundreds of undocumented migrants, some of them refugees, were arrested. The majority were allegedly attempting to enter South Africa irregularly. In June, nine people drowned and more than 40 went missing after a boat carrying scores of undocumented migrants sank off the coast of Cabo Delgado province.

In October, the government publicly declared its commitment to ensuring reform of the prison system and particularly to reducing overcrowding in prisons. Discussions started on a Bill on alternatives to prison sentences.

Also in October, the Interior Minister was removed from his post and made Minister of Agriculture. This move followed protests in Maputo and Manica provinces where police used live ammunition to control the crowds, killing 14 people.

In November Mozambique ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol.

Police

Police were convicted of criminal activities including assault, robbery, extortion and murder. There were a number of cases of police being killed or seriously injured by alleged criminals, apparently sometimes because of links between police officers and criminal gangs.

Excessive use of force

Police continued to use excessive force during demonstrations and to stop alleged criminals. In May, the body of Agostinho Chaúque - whom the authorities had called "public enemy number one" - was found in Matola city near his family home. Police claimed he was killed in an exchange of fire in Maputo city.

  • In September, police fired live ammunition at crowds in Maputo and Manica provinces who were demonstrating against the rising price of bread and basic commodities, including by burning tyres and blocking roads. At least 14 people were killed and more than 400 injured. The police said they used live ammunition because they had run out of rubber bullets. More than 140 people were arrested for instigating the violence. Most of these had charges against them dropped by the courts due to lack of evidence. Although several criminal proceedings related to the demonstrations were under way at the end of the year, none appeared to relate to the use of firearms by the police. Furthermore, no one had as yet been held responsible for similar lethal use of firearms during demonstrations in 2008.
  • In September, police shot and killed a man known as Walter M.K. in Maputo city. According to police, when police asked to see his identification he pulled out a gun and opened fire. The police also said Walter M.K. had been wanted in connection with the murder of two police officers and armed bank robbery. No inquiry or investigation is known to have been carried out into his death.

Arbitrary arrests and detentions

In addition to the mass arrests following the protests in September, there were reports of arbitrary arrests and detentions by police.

  • On 10 August, Hermínio dos Santos, Chairperson of Mozambique's Forum of War Veterans (FDGM), was arrested, apparently because he was planning to organize a demonstration. Members of the Rapid Intervention Force (FIR) were stationed outside his home for four days before his arrest and he was arrested by members of the Public Order Police and FIR, apparently because he failed to respond to a summons. However, according to reports, he had not personally been served the summons. He was charged with disobedience, tried and acquitted by the Machava Judicial Court in Maputo on 30 August.

Torture and other ill-treatment

There were reports of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in prisons. In April, at least seven inmates at the Brigada Operacional's Maximum Security Prison in Maputo told the Justice Minister during her visit to the prison that they had been beaten, kicked, whipped and tied up by prison guards. One reported that the guards had allowed other inmates to beat him and had joined in the beatings. Five of the prisoners were apparently ill-treated as a disciplinary measure for being in possession of mobile phones; another was ill-treated for returning late to his cell, while the seventh was not aware of the reason for this treatment. The Director of the prison and other prison guards were suspended but no information was available regarding criminal proceedings against them by the end of the year.