Mozambique’s independence from Portugal in 1975 was followed by nearly two decades of civil war until peace was achieved in 1992. After 18 years in power, President Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique’s ruling FRELIMO party stepped down and voters elected a new president, Armando Guebuza, in December 2004. Guebuza was re-elected in 2009 despite observers’ claims of irregularities and lack of transparency in the election process. The next parliamentary and presidential elections will be held on October 15, 2014.
Due mainly to international investment in natural resources, Mozambique has seen relative stability and growth until violence erupted between Mozambique’s opposition group RENAMO and the government in late 2012. The escalating violence between the ruling and opposition parties in central Mozambique has caused several civilian deaths and displaced more than 6,000 people. The parties are currently engaged in a dialogue to end the violence and review the electoral laws.
In addition to renewed conflict, the conduct of the Mozambican police continues to violate Mozambique’s constitutional protections of fundamental rights and freedoms. These include deaths in detention and extrajudicial executions of suspected criminals, as well as excessive use of force and firearms. Existing internal police accountability systems are largely ineffective, with very little follow-up to cases of human rights violations by police. Police codes of conduct and disciplinary procedures are inadequate and do not conform to international human rights standards. Limited access to justice by victims and their families is compounded by a weak and often corrupt justice system and other obstacles.
Amnesty International is particularly concerned about the rights of women and girls in Mozambique. In March 2014, Mozambique’s National Assembly is expected to consider a pre-approved draft law allowing rapists to escape prosecution by marrying their victims. The draft law represents a huge step backwards for women and girls in Mozambique and encourages impunity. It violates the right of access to justice, bodily integrity, non-discrimination, and the right not to be subjected to torture, cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment or punishment. Amnesty International calls on the Mozambican authorities to protect the rights of women and girls by not passing this law.