Police continued to unlawfully kill suspects, possibly carrying out extrajudicial executions. At least three police officers were tried for human rights violations committed in previous years. Police used excessive force during demonstrations, killing at least three people and injuring more than 30. Freedom of expression was suppressed and journalists were increasingly harassed.
Mozambique enacted three new laws in April relating to children: the Law on Child Protection; the Law on Trafficking of Persons, especially Women and Children; and the Law on Juvenile Justice.
The fight against corruption suffered a setback in January when the Anti-Corruption Forum was abolished on the grounds that the presidential decree establishing it was unconstitutional.
In September, the former Minister of the Interior, Almerino Manhenje, was arrested in connection with the disappearance of about US$8.8 million from the Ministry of Interior when he was the Minister between 1999 and 2005.
Between January and May, at least 22 prisoners died in the Chimoio Agricultural Penitentiary in Manica province. However, according to the Mozambican Human Rights League, prison conditions had improved.
"Police used excessive force during demonstrations, killing several people."
At least 14 criminal suspects died after being lynched by mobs in the provinces of Maputo, Manica and Sofala between February and April. In Chimoio 29 people were arrested in connection with the lynching, three of whom were charged and found guilty of inciting violence. They were sentenced to six months’ imprisonment.
At least 72 people died of cholera and other diseases brought on by floods that ravaged central Mozambique in early 2008, displacing more than 100,000 people from their homes.
Police continued to unlawfully kill criminal suspects and other people. They usually alleged that the victims were behaving in a suspicious manner or were criminals trying to escape. Some officers were reportedly arrested but were not brought to trial. In July, three police officers were sentenced to 21 years’ imprisonment for the murder of three men at a football field in Costa do Sol in 2007. They were also ordered to pay US$25,000 compensation to the families of the victims. A member of the Presidential Guard was sentenced to 18 years’ imprisonment for killing a man in the same area in 2006. However, the majority of police officers were not prosecuted for human rights violations.
- Police shot and killed three alleged robbers in the Baixa area of Maputo in February. According to the police, the men were about to rob a bank and a factory. There were conflicting reports about what happened. An eyewitness said that one of the alleged robbers got out of the car, ran towards a nearby hotel and was shot dead. The other two were shot at by the car. According to other reports, one man was arrested when he got out of a parked vehicle. The police stated that he tried to escape while being taken to a police station and was shot dead. The other two were shot dead on the street corner near the factory.
Excessive use of force
Police used excessive force during demonstrations, killing several people.
- In February, police fired what they claimed were rubber bullets at demonstrators in Maputo city who were protesting against an increase in transport fares. However, at least three people were killed and 30 injured by stray, live ammunition. Police also used live ammunition during related demonstrations in the province of Gaza. A police spokesperson stated that live ammunition was used because some officers were caught by surprise by the rioters. No investigation was carried out into these incidents.
- In March, police shot Celsio João Daimon in his home in Beira. The police, who were looking for an escaped prisoner and who were reportedly drunk, shot him with AKM rifles at close range when he emerged from a friend’s room. He was hit in the thigh by three bullets. When the officers realized he was not the man they were looking for, they took his phone and left him. Celsio João Daimon’s brother took him to the police station to report the incident. Members of the Rapid Intervention Force arrived and started beating him, apparently believing him to be the escaped prisoner. When they realized he was not, they took him to hospital, where he had to have his leg amputated. Three police officers were arrested and convicted in connection with this crime – two were fined and one sentenced to a four-year prison term. However, no action was taken against any member of the Rapid Intervention Force.
Freedom of expression
Freedom of expression was suppressed. In September, police stopped a demonstration called by war veterans demanding better living conditions. Nineteen were arrested and held for a few days before being released pending trial.
There was increasing harassment of journalists with defamation and criminal charges being used to suppress freedom of the press. Journalists were summoned for questioning by procurators to explain their work.
- Three Zambeze newspaper journalists were tried in August on charges of defamation and threatening state security over an article questioning the Prime Minister’s nationality. They were convicted and sentenced to six months’ imprisonment, converted to a fine of 30 meticais (US$1.20).
Amnesty International visitsAmnesty International delegates visited Mozambique in May.
Amnesty International report
Licence to Kill: Police accountability in Mozambique (29 April 2008)