In February, Mozambique’s human rights record was assessed under the UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) and the UN Human Rights Council’s final report was adopted in June. Mozambique accepted 131 recommendations made during the UPR and stated that many had already been or were in the process of being implemented. These included recommendations to investigate all cases of arbitrary detention, torture and other ill-treatment; to investigate excessive use of force by the police; and to bring perpetrators to justice.
In March, former Minister of Interior Almerino Manhenje was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment by the Maputo City Court for mismanagement of funds and abuse of power. The charges related to unlawful budgetary decisions and mismanagement of expenses while he was Minister of Interior in 2004. The former Director and Deputy Director of the financial department of the Ministry were also sentenced to two years in prison in the same case.
In April, guards from the main opposition party, the Mozambique National Resistance (Resistência Nacional Moçambicana, Renamo), shot at police officers at an airport in Sofala which was being renovated for a visit by President Guebuza. They demanded that all work stop until the ruling party, the Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (Frente de Libertação de Moçambique, Frelimo) agreed to hold talks with Renamo. Afonso Dhlakama, president of Renamo, threatened to create unrest aimed at overthrowing Frelimo.
In September, 25 judges were selected for the Superior Appeal Courts, set up to relieve the Supreme Court, which was previously the only court of appeal. Systems for the functioning of the new courts had not been put in place by the end of the year.
Scores of people, mainly elderly, were killed after being accused of witchcraft. The highest reported incidence of such killings occurred in the southern province of Inhambane where at least 20 elderly people were killed between August and September.Top of page
Border and law enforcement officials were responsible for human rights violations against undocumented migrants and asylum-seekers. Thousands of undocumented migrants and asylum-seekers – mainly Somalis and Ethiopians – entered the country through Tanzania between January and July. Many reported that border officials and police beat them, stole their property, stripped them naked and abandoned them on islands in the Rovuma River. Others said the boats they arrived in were overturned by marine police.
- An asylum-seeker from the Horn of Africa arrived at Mocimboa de Praia, Cabo Delgado province, by boat with around 300 people. As law enforcement officials attempted to push the boat back into the sea, it overturned and at least 15 people drowned. The asylum-seeker was rescued and later deported to Tanzania, but managed to re-enter Mozambique using a different route. He was found and beaten by law enforcement officials before finally arriving at Maratane refugee camp in Nampula, having walked some 695km from the border.
- On 29 April there were reports that at least four Somali asylum-seekers were killed by Mozambique law enforcement officials and their bodies thrown into the Rovuma River as they attempted to cross into Mozambique from Tanzania. Despite requests from UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, no investigation appeared to have been carried out.
As in previous years, police used excessive force and sometimes firearms against criminal suspects. Many instances resulted in grievous bodily harm or death. A police officer was convicted for the killing of a man in November 2007. However, the majority of past cases of human rights violations by police remained unresolved, including in relation to excessive use of force during demonstrations in 2009 and 2010 when police used live ammunition.
- On the evening of 14 January, Angelo Juiz Nhancuana was drinking in Maputo city when his uncle arrived with two police officers, demanding that he be arrested for stealing a computer. Angelo Nhancuana agreed to go with the police, but refused to be handcuffed. One of the police officers hit him over the head with his pistol and shot him through the arm when he fell. Angelo Nhancuana was in hospital for a month and was informed that the police had no case to answer as the weapon was fired accidentally. The case was reopened after intervention from Angelo Nhancuana’s lawyer.
- In the early hours of 5 March, police shot and killed Hortêncio Nia Ossufo in his home in Muatala, Nampula. Claims by police that they had attempted to immobilize Hortêncio Ossufo as he tried to escape were contradicted by an eyewitness who said he was deliberately killed in a case of mistaken identity.
- On 22 March, a police officer was sentenced by the Inhambane Provincial Court to four years’ imprisonment for killing Julião Naftal Macule in November 2007. None of the other nine police officers who took part in the operation were charged.
There were continued reports of torture and other ill-treatment of prisoners, including after attempted escapes.
- On 24 September, two prisoners died from their injuries at the Quinta do Girassol detention centre in Zambezia province after being beaten by a prison guard with sticks, stones and bricks. The prisoners had apparently been recaptured while trying to escape.
Access to justice continued to be a challenge for the majority of citizens due to the costs and other obstacles. Despite a law which exempts indigent people from paying court fees, many judges continued to insist on payment of such fees even from those with a certificate of poverty.Top of page