• Sheet of paper Report

Annual Report: Mozambique 2013

May 21, 2013


Head of state Armando Emílio Guebuza

Head of government Alberto Vaquina (replaced Aires Ali)

People were subject to arbitrary arrest and detention by police, and prolonged detention without trial. Excessive use of force by police was reported. Appalling conditions in prisons led to riots.


On 8 March a shoot-out between police in Nampula city and about 300 members of the opposition Mozambique National Resistance (Resistência Nacional Moçambicana, Renamo) resulted in the deaths of a police officer and a Renamo member, and injuries to several others, both police and Renamo. Police had raided the Renamo headquarters where the men had set up camp since December 2011, apparently awaiting orders from the party leader, Afonso Dhlakama, to stage anti-government protests. At the end of October Afonso Dhlakama moved with about 800 men to the Renamo former base in Gorongosa, Sofala province, threatening to return to war unless the government agreed to meet them. In November a government commission was set up to begin dialogue with Renamo. In December, four Renamo members were convicted and sentenced to nine months and 11 days' imprisonment in connection with the March shoot-out. They were released immediately as they had spent that time in pre-trial detention.

On 11 May parliament elected former Minister of Justice, José Abudo, as the first Justice Ombudsman. On 5 September, 11 commissioners of the new National Human Rights Commission were sworn in.

In September President Guebuza was re-elected Frelimo president at the party's 10th congress.

Police and security forces

Between February and November, over 20 Asian businessmen and family members were kidnapped in the capital Maputo and held for ransom. The Asian business community alleged that the police were involved in the kidnappings. In September individuals suspected of involvement were arrested and released, apparently due to lack of evidence. Others were arrested in November; no further information was available by the end of the year.

In April the Commander General of Police acted in defiance of a court decision and reportedly stated that he was not bound by the decision of the judiciary with regard to police discipline.

  • In March, five police officers in Nacala, Nampula province, including the Nacala Police Commander, were arrested in connection with the alleged illegal storage of arms. A judge ordered their conditional release pending investigation, but they were re-arrested and detained by police before again being released after intervention by lawyers. The Commander General of Police stated that police had acted in accordance with the Police Disciplinary Regulation of 1987 and were not bound by the decision of the court. In September the Constitutional Council determined that the provision of the Regulation which the Commander General had relied on had already been revoked.

Arbitrary arrests and detentions

Police carried out arbitrary arrests and detentions, a number of which were politically motivated. Some detainees were released without charge. None appeared to have received compensation and no police officers appeared to have been held criminally responsible.

  • Police arrested members of the War Veterans Forum, including its spokesperson, Jossías Alfredo Matsena, who was arrested on three separate occasions. On 10 January he was arrested and released without charge after a few hours. On 19 January he was again arrested, and charged with fraud and threats against a Frelimo district representative. He was tried for fraud and acquitted in March; the charges relating to the alleged threats were dropped in June. On 14 February he was arrested without a warrant while on his way to the offices of the Mozambique Human Rights League. He was held in Machava police station in Maputo province for some hours and transferred to the 1st Police station in Inhambane for two days before being taken to the Inhambane maximum security prison. He was charged with concealment of arms and incitement to violence and held for four months before being released pending trial.
  • On 18 April, 38 members of the opposition Democratic Movement of Mozambique (Movimento Democrático de Moçambique, MDM) were arrested during mayoral by-elections in the province of Inhambane. They were initially released without charge, but in August were accused of illegal campaigning at polling stations. The detainees said they were distributing food and water for the MDM polling station monitors. On 5 October they were convicted of alleged electoral offences and sentenced to two months' imprisonment without the option of a fine. Seven were tried in their absence.

Excessive use of force and unlawful killings

In July the Maputo Administrative Court ordered the state to pay 500,000 meticais (about US$17,000) in compensation to the mother of an 11-year-old boy who was killed by a stray bullet fired by police during violent demonstrations in Maputo in September 2010. No officer was held accountable. There were further cases of excessive use of force by the police during the year.

  • In July police shot and killed a 19-year-old man, known only as António, in the city of Nampula. António and a friend were reported to have driven a car into a police vehicle parked outside the 2nd police station in Nampula and failed to stop. Police pursued them and fired, hitting António, who died later. Police authorities told Amnesty International delegates in November that an investigation was being carried out. No further information was available at the end of the year.
  • In August, the district Police Commander in Ilha de Moçambique, Nampula province, beat a pregnant woman, resulting in her hospitalization. Police authorities said that the Commander had beaten her in his personal capacity during a private dispute. They stated that a disciplinary procedure had been instituted and that an investigation was being carried out. No further information was available at the end of the year.

Detention without trial

In at least three prisons in Maputo and two in Nampula, hundreds of people were held without trial, some without charge, for longer than the time legally allowed. Thousands of people remained similarly detained throughout the country.

  • On 16 February a joint delegation of Amnesty International and the Mozambique Human Rights League found José Capitine Cossa (also known as Zeca Capetinho Cossa) detained without charge or trial in Machava Maximum Security prison. He had been held for over 12 years; the authorities claimed they did not know why he was there. In September the Attorney General informed Amnesty International that José Capitine Cossa had been released on 4 September as his detention had been irregular and that an investigation was being carried out. By the end of the year no one had been held responsible and José Capitine Cossa had not received compensation for unlawful arrest and detention.

Prison conditions

Prisoners in Nampula Central Prison and Beira Central Prison rioted in March and September respectively in protest against overcrowding, poor food and health conditions. The Rapid Intervention Force used excessive force during the riots at Nampula Central Prison, which was condemned by the Minister of Justice. Conditions at Nampula Central Prison were harsh, with extreme overcrowding, insanitary conditions, nutritionally inadequate food and poor medical facilities. Similar conditions were recorded in other prisons.


Amnesty International visits/reports

  • Amnesty International delegates visited Mozambique in February and November.
  • Locking up my rights: arbitrary arrest, detention and treatment of detainees in Mozambique (AFR 41/001/2012)