Urgent Action: End Smear Campaign Against Bishop Lisboa (Mozambique: UA 132.20)

August 26, 2020

Bishop Don Luis Fernando Lisboa of Pemba city, in Northern Mozambique, has been the subject of an ongoing smear campaign to undermine and delegitimize his vital human rights work in the province of Cabo Delgado. President Nyusi, and government affiliates have directly and indirectly singled out Bishop Lisboa in their critique of dissidents. The authorities must ensure a safe and supportive environment for Bishop Lisboa to continue his human rights work without fear of intimidation, harassment and any reprisals.



  1. Write a letter in your own words or using the sample below as a guide to one or both government officials listed. You can also email, fax, call or Tweet them.
  2. Click here to let us know the actions you took on Urgent Action 132.20. It’s important to report because we share the total number with the officials we are trying to persuade and the people we are trying to help.


President Filipe Jacinto Nyusi
President of the Republic of Mozambique
Address: Avenida Julius Nyerere, PABX 2000
Maputo – Mozambique
Ambassador Carlos Dos Santos
Embassy of the Republic of Mozambique
1525 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington DC 20036
Phone: 202 293 7146 I Fax: 202 835 0245
Email: [email protected]
Salutation: Dear Ambassador


Honorable President Filipe Nyusi,

I am writing to you concerning the ongoing smear campaign against human rights defender (HRD) Bishop Don Luis Fernando Lisboa, of Pemba city. On 14 August, in a press conference in Pemba city, you lamented those ‘foreigners’, who freely choose to live in Mozambique, of using human rights to disrespect the sacrifice of those who keep this young homeland. This statement triggered an onslaught of attacks on social media against Bishop Lisboa and his human rights work, with many users accusing Bishop Lisboa of associating with terrorists and insurgents. Furthermore, on 16 August, Egidio Vaz, a well-known government affiliate referred to Bishop Lisboa on social media as “a criminal [who] should be expelled from Mozambique”.

The campaign to undermine and delegitimize the work of Bishop Lisboa is not new. In November 2019 Publico, a local pro-government newspaper, released an an article entitled, “Bishop sows seeds of violence.” On 22 June 2020, they same newspaper published an article accusing Bishop Lisboa of rebellion against the government and disturbing the public order. In the past, similar smear campaigns have led to the murder of human rights defenders, journalists, government critics and professors. Journalists and researchers who work to expose human rights violations and abuses in Cabo Delgado have been harassed, intimidated, arrested, detained and tortured with impunity. Bishop Lisboa provides vital support and aid to the population of Cabo Delgado province, who have fled their villages due to the ongoing armed conflict in the province.

I urge you to end the smear campaign against Bishop Lisboa and refrain from using language that stigmatizes, abuses, disparages or discriminates against HRDs including by characterizing them as criminals, “foreigners”, terrorists, unpatriotic or of being morally corrupt; ensure a safe and supportive environment for Bishop Lisboa and other HRDs so that they can carry out their vital human rights work without fear of attacks, intimidation and harassment; and ensure that the right to freedom of expression is fully respected, protected, promoted and fulfilled, and that human rights defenders are able to freely carry out their work without fear of attacks, intimidation, harassment and censorship.

Yours sincerely,