Mozambique - Amnesty International Report 2008


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Head of State : Armando Guebuza
Head of government : Luisa Diogo
Death penalty : abolitionist for all crimes
Population : 20.5 million
Life expectancy : 42.8 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f) : 171/154 per 1,000
Adult literacy : 38.7 per cent

There was an increase in the number of suspected criminals unlawfully killed by the police. The police were also responsible for other human rights violations including arbitrary arrests and detentions and excessive use of force. Floods, which started in December 2006, displaced an estimated 120,000 people by February 2007. The situation was aggravated by Tropical Cyclone Favio, which hit the southern province of Inhambane causing further damage and destruction to homes.


Mozambique ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in March.

In November the Assembly General granted itself powers to amend the Constitution in order to postpone the first-ever provincial Assembly elections, scheduled for December.

There was a series of explosions in a military arsenal in the capital, Maputo, and one in the city of Beira. More than 100 people were killed, hundreds more injured and hundreds left homeless. The most serious incident was in March when an explosion at the Malhazine military arsenal in Maputo, which had already exploded in February, killed more than 100 people and injured at least 500. Smaller explosions throughout 2007 resulted in further casualties.

Extrajudicial executions

There was an increase in the number of suspected criminals unlawfully killed by the police. Few of these cases were investigated and no police officers were prosecuted for human rights violations. In May the Procurator General announced an investigation into the possible existence of “death squads” within the police force who were responsible for these killings. However, to date, the results of the investigation have not been made public. Police officers arrested for human rights violations in 2006 had still not been tried by the end of 2007.

  • In April, three police officers took Sousa Carlos Cossa, Mustafa Assane Momede and Francisco Nhantumbo from a police station in Laulane, Maputo, to a sports field in the neighbourhood of Costa do Sol where they shot them dead. The officers claimed the men were trying to escape. However, autopsy results revealed that the three had been shot in the back of the neck at close range. The officers were suspended from duty, but the police initially refused to arrest them. They were eventually arrested and detained in May, and alleged that they were carrying out superior orders. The investigation into this case was continuing at the end of 2007.
  • Abrantes Afonso Penicela died in hospital in August one day after being kidnapped, beaten, shot and burned by police officers who left him for dead. Before he died he told his family and a police officer that a group of at least five police officers drove in two cars to his home, with one of his friends. His friend’s telephone was used to call him and when he came out of the house, the police officers seized him, put him into one of the cars and gave him a toxic injection. They drove him to a secluded area in Xhinavane, some 120km north of Maputo, where they beat him until he lost consciousness. The police officers shot him in the back of the neck and set fire to him, then left, apparently thinking that he was dead. He managed to crawl to a nearby road, where he was found by local people who contacted his family and took him to Xhinavane Hospital. He was then transferred to Maputo Central Hospital. His family reported the case to police at the 5th police station and an officer went to the hospital to hear his testimony. Police officials informed the family that the case was being investigated, but no one had been arrested by the end of 2007.

Arbitrary arrests and detentions

Cases of arbitrary arrests and detentions by the police were reported. The majority were not investigated by the authorities.

  • In March demonstrators in Maputo demanded the resignation of the Minister of National Defence after a second explosion at the Malhazine military arsenal. They argued that he had failed to move the munitions following an earlier explosion in February. Six demonstrators were arrested and detained without charge at the Alto Mãe police station in Maputo. They were released the next morning. Journalist Celso Manguana was arrested at the Alto Mãe police station when he investigated the six arrests. He was detained for two days, then charged with insulting the authorities and transferred to Maputo Civil Prison. Apparently, he had called the police incompetent when they failed to answer his questions. He was released three days after his arrest and the charges against him were dropped.

Amnesty International visit

  • Amnesty International delegates visited Mozambique in September.