Mozambique: "I Can’t Believe in Justice Any More"

Just a few weeks ago, on October 28th, elections were held in Mozambique, elections won by President Armando E. Guebuza of the ruling Frelimo party by about 75% of the votes. The main opposition party, Renamo, is now contesting the vote, accusing Frelimo of rigging the vote. Nevertheless, election observers from the European Union said the voting was “well-managed” and “calm.” So far no election-related violence has erupted in this southern African Country. Positive signs you may say. 

But not everything in Mozambique is as rosy as it may seem. Amnesty International just released today a new report on police accountability in Mozambique. The report, which follows up from an earlier report published in 2008 on the same issue, looks at the failure of the authorities to ensure justice for victims by not investigating suspected unlawful killings by the police.

Amnesty’s investigations in Mozambique show that at least 46 people have been unlawfully killed by police since 2006. In the majority of these cases, there has not been even as little as an investigation opened and in only a few have suspected officers been brought to justice, leaving families in the dark about what happened to their loved ones.

There are two-stage crimes. The initial unlawful deprivation of the most fundamental human right–to life–and the unwillingness of the Mozambican authorities to seek justice for that crime. Impunity is a prerequisite for all manner of things–none of them good for Mozambique – AIUSA’s Advocacy Director for Africa, Scott Edwards

Amnesty is calling on the government of Mozambique to ensure that all cases of police force that result in death or serious injury are fully investigated and those police officers responsible be brought to justice. The families of those killed deserve it.

Take action now to help bring an end to human rights violations by the police in Mozambique!

Mozambique Rocks the Vote

Mozambique goes to the polls tomorrow in its fourth general election since independence from Portugal in 1975. Parliamentary control and the Presidency are up for grabs. Election observors from the African Union, the Commonwealth and the Southern African Development Community have arrived to monitor the elections. Which is good, because so far things have been a bit bumpy.

President Armando Guebuza of the governing Frelimo party is being challenged by Afonso Dhlakama, leader of Renamo, and Daviz Simango, mayor of Beira city and founder of the Mozambican Democratic Movement. Seventeen parties and two coalitions are meanwhile in the running for seats in the Mozambican parliament and, for the first time, provincial assemblies.

So far, there have been several incidents of violence between supporters of Frelimo and Renamo, resulting in harm to persons and property. Several people have been hospitalized or forced to seek medical attention while offices have been vandalized and property stolen. Violence is often a serious issue in Mozambique; Amnesty International has documented many incidents of extra-judicial killings by the police with few prosecutions of the perpetrators and no justice for the victims or their families.

Mozambique has recently been praised by the International Monetary Fund for its economic policies and last month President Guebuza chaired the World Climate Conference, taking a strong stand on the need for new environmental policies to address climate change. Emerging in 1992 from a devastating civil war, Mozambique is now poised to take strong strides in the region and become a leader on climate change, tourism and economic development (despite the nation’s current continuing desperate poverty). Let’s hope a free and fair election unmarred by further violence or human rights violations speeds Mozambique further along this path.