Security forces used excessive force against peaceful protesters
In May 2023, the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (a FIDH-OMCT partnership) conducted a field mission in Maputo, Mozambique. The mission concluded that the “situation of human rights defenders remains critical, as impunity of perpetrators of human rights violations remains high, and as space for civil society continues shrinking.”
EN:— The Observatory (@OBS_defenders) June 22, 2023
🇲🇿#Mozambique:@OBS_defenders, accompanied by @fidh_en member organisations @CDD_Moz & @humanrightstz, was in Maputo to assess the situation of #humanrightsdefenders and civic space in the run-up to the elections pic.twitter.com/KNQeuqU2aB
On 11th October 2023, municipal elections took place in Mozambique. After the results were announced on 26th October, the main opposition party, Mozambican National Resistance (RENAMO), called its supporters to take to the streets to demand the Constitutional Council not validate the election results due to irregularities in the voting. According to reports, security forces used excessive force, including live ammunition, rubber bullets and tear gas, against peaceful protesters, with at least three people reportedly killed as a result.
According to Amnesty International, the violent response to the protest by police is not an isolated event. In 2023 alone, at least three peaceful protests were suppressed by police. For instance, in March 2023, while peaceful protests took place to commemorate the death of artist Azagaia, the police responded with violence and detained at least seven protesters.
Happening now in Maputo, the capital city of Mozambique. RENAMO, the opposition party, called nationwide demonstrations to protest against the electoral fraud in last week’s elections. pic.twitter.com/UNIOLX5yVp— Nwa ❤️ (@Nwaadaz) October 17, 2023
On 5th June 2023, authorities called Leonardo Gimo, a reporter for the privately owned broadcaster TV Sucesso, to appear before the National Criminal Investigation Service (SERNIC) office in Mozambique's northern province of Nampula on 8th June. There, the journalist was told that he was being investigated for criminal defamation following a complaint by Cesariato Rumeia, the police district commandant in Angoche, over a 2022 report about alleged police corruption. If convicted of criminal defamation, Gimo faces up to one year in prison or a fine.
Also in June, during a municipal event, Paulo Vahanle, the mayor of the city of Nampula, prevented two reporters from Televisão de Moçambique (TVM) from covering the event. According to reports, the major refused to speak unless the reporters left the event. At the same event, the phone of Areno Fugão, a reporter with the privately owned newspaper Wampula Fax was confiscated.
🇲🇿 #Mozambique - @globalfreemedia ask of police officials: "Drop criminal defamation and slander case against journalist Leonardo Gimo for his report on suspected corruption." @GimoLeonardo is doing his job! https://t.co/QEz8wGMgXd @AFEXafrica @ZitamarNews— IFEX (@IFEX) July 5, 2023
On 12th October 2023, police arbitrarily detained RENAMO candidate and mayor of Quelimane city, Manuel de Araujo, for “disturbing the voting counting process”. He was released later without charge. Earlier in the month, three Democratic Movement of Mozambique leaders were detained and later released after a judge found no basis for the arrests.