Mozambican authorities must immediately and unconditionally drop criminal charges against Carlos Nuno Castel-Branco and Fernando Mbanze over a Facebook post that criticized the then president, Amnesty International said today ahead of the court’s final decision on the case on September 16, 2015.
“The charges against the two men make a complete mockery of justice. Both men were simply exercising their right to freedom of expression by speaking out about the governance of Mozambique on social media and in a newspaper. That is clearly not a crime,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for Southern Africa.
Economist Carlos Nuno Castel-Branco is charged with crimes against the security of the state for publishing a comment on Facebook in November 2013 questioning the manner in which former President Armando Guebuza governed Mozambique. He faces a jail term of up to two years if convicted.
Fernando Mbanze, the editor of the MediaFax newspaper, is charged with abusing freedom of the press under article 42 of the Press Law in conjunction with the State Security Law for publishing Carlos Nuno Castel-Branco’s Facebook post as an open letter in the newspaper. The men were brought before the court on August 31, 2015.
“Mozambican authorities must drop the politically motivated charges against these two individuals as they amount to harassment, intimidation and infringement on their right to freedom of expression and on the freedom of the press,” said Muchena.
“Targeting people for posting legitimate opinions on social media platforms is not only a vast overreaction by the authorities but sets a dangerous precedent. Authorities must be creating a healthy environment for people to peacefully exercise their human rights and exchange information and views as long as they are not harming anyone.”