Mozambique: Detained journalist in critical condition denied medical treatment

Amnesty International has received credible reports that Amade Abubacar, a journalist who is being arbitrarily detained in a Mozambican prison, is being subjected to ill-treatment, including denial of food, family visits and medical treatment.

Allegations that Amade Abubacar is being ill-treated and denied medical treatment must be investigated thoroughly and transparently and all those suspected of criminal responsibility brought to book
Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa

Amade Abubacar was arrested on 5 January for documenting deadly attacks by armed groups against civilians in Cabo Delgado province, and is believed to be in a critical condition in detention. Amnesty International is calling for his immediate and unconditional release.

“Allegations that Amade Abubacar is being ill-treated and denied medical treatment must be investigated thoroughly and transparently and all those suspected of criminal responsibility brought to book. Amade is languishing in jail for simply doing his job as a journalist, exposing the suffering wrought on civilians by deadly attacks in Cabo Delgado,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa.

“Mozambican authorities must either charge Amade with a recognizable criminal offence or release him immediately and unconditionally and allow him to continue to do his job without fear of reprisals. His continued detention is a mockery of media freedom in Mozambique.”

Amade is being held at the Mieze Correctional Centre in Pemba district, Cabo Delgado province. His prison cell is overcrowded, and he has been denied his right to receive family visits.

Possible torture and denial of medical treatment

Amnesty International has been reliably informed that Amade has been suffering from a range of health problems since the start of his detention, including constant headaches and diarrhea. Prior to his arrest Amade was in good health but his condition has deteriorated rapidly while in detention. 

We fear that Amade’s health is now in critical condition and his life may be at risk
Deprose Muchena

The organization is concerned that Amade could be in need of urgent medical attention and that he may not be receiving necessary and adequate medical treatment.

“We fear that Amade’s health is now in critical condition and his life may be at risk. His original detention was an affront to media freedom and now the authorities seem intent on compounding this shocking injustice by keeping him in detention,” said Deprose Muchena.

On 25 January representatives of the Mozambican Bar Association visited Amade alongside his lawyer at the prison. However, he was denied any private consultation with the representatives during this visit.  He spoke to representatives in front of prison authorities. He told representatives that he had been subjected to different forms of ill-treatment by the military, including physical aggression and forcing him to sleep handcuffed. He has also complained of being denied food. Amnesty International believes this amounts to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, or even torture.

Amade Abubacar is a prisoner of conscience who is being detained solely for exercising his right to freedom of expression. He should not have spent a single night in detention and must be immediately and unconditionally released
Deprose Muchena

“Amade Abubacar is a prisoner of conscience who is being detained solely for exercising his right to freedom of expression. He should not have spent a single night in detention and must be immediately and unconditionally released.” said Deprose Muchena.

Background

Amade Abubacar is a journalist at the Nacedje Communitary Radio in Cabo Delgado. He was arrested on 5 January while covering attacks on civilians by armed groups. The attacks have escalated since the beginning of October 2017, with more than 100 people killed and hundreds of others having fled their homes.

As part of a strategy to suppress media attention on the attacks, believed to be carried out by members of a local armed group known as “Al-Shabab”, Mozambican authorities have arbitrarily detained journalists reporting the story.