17 January marks two years that fifteen asylum seekers and refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and one refugee from Ethiopia, have been arbitrarily detained in Pemba, northeast Mozambique, in appalling conditions. They must be immediately and unconditionally released.
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Minister Helena Kida
Minister of Justice
Due to postal restrictions caused by COVID-19, please only send physical mail to the Embassy
Email: [email protected]
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
Dear Minister Helena Kida,
I am writing to you concerning the case of 16 people (11 refugees and five asylum seekers, 14 men and one woman from the DRC and one man from Ethiopia), who remain detained at the Third Police Station in Pemba city, Cabo Delgado province, northern Mozambique.
The 16 people have been detained since their arrest on 17 January 2019 without an arrest warrant. Two years have passed since they have been arbitrarily deprived of family contact. They have not been informed of the reasons for their continued detention, nor of any administrative or criminal procedures against them. They have also never been brought before a court to legalize their detention. According to Article 308, §1°, N° 3, of the Criminal Procedural Code of Mozambique, a person cannot be held in pre-trial detention for more than 90 days after their arrest.
During these two years, the 16 detainees have been held in inhumane conditions. According to the detainees, their cell does not have a toilet, forcing them to dig several holes in the police station’s patio to use as a toilet. They drink yellow water from the cell’s sink, and they have not been provided with adequate food. They do not have mattresses and have to sleep on a sheet of paper on the floor. Their prolonged arbitrary detention in the current context of the global Covid-19 pandemic represents an additional and grave risk to the right to health of the 16 refugees and asylum seekers. The local authorities have not implemented any measures to avoid the spread of Covid-19 at the Third Police Station in Pemba.
On 12 March 2019, their lawyers filed a provisional release application, but the Pemba Provincial Court has yet to rule on the request.
I urge you to ensure the urgent, unconditional and immediate release of the 16 refugees and asylum seekers and allow them to return safely to the Maratane Camp in Nampula province, northern Mozambique, and provide them with adequate compensation and reparations; and ensure that no one is coerced into “requesting” repatriation or deported to their countries of origin or to any other country where they would be at real risk of serious human rights violations, in line with Mozambique’s international human rights obligations.