Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
2007
March 11, 2008

The Republic of Mozambique is a constitutional democracy with an estimated population of 20 million. President Armando Guebuza was elected in December 2004 in what national and international observers judged to be generally free and fair elections, despite some irregularities. The Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (FRELIMO) has been the ruling political party since independence in 1975, heavily influencing both policymaking and implementation. While civilian authorities generally maintained effective control of the security forces, there were some instances in which elements of the security forces acted independently.

Incidents of serious human rights abuses in some areas—including unlawful killings by security forces and vigilante killings—increased during the year. Prison conditions remained harsh and life threatening, resulting in several deaths. Arbitrary arrest and detention as well as lengthy pretrial detentions were problems. An understaffed and inadequately trained judiciary was inefficient and heavily influenced by the ruling party. Judicial decisions involving independent media outlets created a more constraining environment for press freedom. In addition societal problems such as domestic violence, discrimination against women, abuse, exploitation, and forced labor of children, trafficking in women and children, and discrimination against persons with HIV/AIDS remained widespread.

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

Section 1 Respect for Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom From:

a. Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life

Although the government or its agents did not commit any political killings during the year, security forces committed unlawful killings.

Violence as a first resort, excessive use of force, and abuse by police remained problems. Authorities often failed to investigate police violence and bring the perpetrators to justice. However, authorities expelled and, in some cases, brought criminal charges against dozens of officers for disciplinary offenses during the year.

A sharp increase in crime, particularly in and around Maputo City, was likely a factor in the increase in the number of unlawful killings committed by security forces during the year. An overanxious police force responded with a strong show of force and often resorted to violence. Police arbitrarily shot and killed numerous persons. For example, on April 4, three policemen shot and killed Carlos Cossa, Mustafa Assene Momede, and Francisco Antonio Nhantumbo on a football field in a Maputo suburb. An investigation by the Criminal Investigation Police (PIC) indicated the victims were criminals who had escaped from a police car. However, the Attorney General's Office concluded that the shots fired by police were at close range, suggesting summary executions. Further investigation into the killings continued at year's end.

On November 8, members of the riot police shot and killed Juliao Macul in Massinga, Inhambane Province. Minister of Interior Jose Pacheco explained the killing as a police reaction to a denunciation of the suspect and added that Macul attempted to avoid being questioned by police. However, media reports indicated that police mistook Macul for a wanted criminal and made no attempt to identify or arrest Macul before shooting him seven times. Police set up a commission of inquiry to investigate the death, but no further information was available at year's end.

On December 22, police shot and killed Augusto Covilas who had called the police to report that his house was being robbed. Upon arriving at the scene, two members of the police opened fire without attempting to find out who was in the house. Authorities arrested the two officers involved and an investigation was underway at year's end.

Police use of torture resulted in deaths. For example, on August 15, PIC agent Alexandre Francisco Balate drugged, beat, and burned Abranches Afonso Penicelo and left him for dead, according to press reports. Penicelo survived and made it to a hospital before dying from his injuries the following day. Family members of Penicelo claimed the killing was perpetrated by a death squad with which Balate was affiliated. An investigation by the Attorney General's Office was ongoing at year's end.

There were no developments in the following 2006 killings by security forces: the January police killing of an unarmed civilian who was trying to persuade a group of policemen to stop beating a younger woman; the January killing by police of five suspects during a warehouse raid; the March police killing of four detainees in a high security prison; the May killing of at least two prison escapees; the June killing by military police of a secondary student for allegedly wearing boots that belonged to a military officer; the June killing by three members of the Presidential Guard of an unarmed citizen who disobeyed orders to stop his vehicle; and, the July police killings of a prisoner who was active in organized crime and planned to testify in court.

There were no developments in the trial of police who shot six gang members in Matsinho, Manica in 2005.

There was one reported killing as a result of torture and other reports of abuse by members of the Community Policing Councils (CPC), nonstatutory bodies set up by the Mozambican National Police (PRM) in many districts to prevent crime. On April 2, Nzero Zamala, the CPC chairman of Nhamatanda District, Sofala Province, whipped Manuel Chinzo Joao more than 60 times, allegedly because Joao was having an affair with Zamala's wife. Joao was not taken to a hospital until April 6, where he subsequently died from his injuries, according to the Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique (AIM).

Land mine-related accidents resulted in deaths and injuries. The government continued to cooperate with international organizations and donors as well as commercial firms to clear suspected land mine areas.

Unlike in the previous year, there were no reports of killings by unknown actors. The investigation into the March 2006 killing of leading opposition party Mozambican National Resistance (RENAMO) deputy Jose Gaspar Mascarenhas by an unknown gunman was ongoing at year's end.

Killings by vigilante groups were widespread during the year. The nongovernmental organization (NGO) Human Rights League (LDH) and other civil society groups claimed these killings were related to increased crime, lack of police presence in certain neighborhoods, and an ineffective justice system. Most targets of such killings were suspected muggers, thieves, and drug dealers. While nationwide statistics were not available, the press reported at least 26 killings by vigilantes during the year, most of which occurred in and around Maputo City, Matola, and Beira. For example, in June a mob in the Vaz neighborhood of Beira beat to death two suspected thieves. In July a mob killed a suspected thief by beating him, soaking him in gasoline, and burning him to death. In November vigilantes apprehended a suspected petty thief, beat him to death, and burned his body.

Unlike in the previous year, there were no reported mob killings of persons suspected of witchcraft.

b. Disappearance

There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances.

c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

While the constitution and law prohibit such practices, police continued to commit abuses. During the year human rights advocates and media outlets reported complaints of torture and other cruel treatment, including several instances involving sexual abuse of women, beatings, and prolonged detention. There were a few reports of deaths resulting from police torture.

The LDH reported that torture in prisons continued to be a problem. Torture and other abusive treatment continued at police squadrons, according to the LDH.

On April 28, police in Macia, Maputo Province, reportedly beat British citizen Alan Evans at a checkpoint. Evans was treated at a clinic in Swaziland for injuries sustained in the incident. There was no further information by year's end.

On July 2, policemen at the 5th squadron in Machava, Maputo Province, severely beat and threatened to kill trainee lawyer Aguinaldo Mandlate, who was at the station to represent clients being interrogated by the PIC. While police claimed he was "trying to escape" and received his injuries after falling, Mandlate stated he fled after police threatened him with a gun. Police gave chase, beat Mandlate, and threw him in a cell with other inmates for several hours before he was rescued by colleagues and taken to the hospital for treatment of head injuries. There were no further updates at year's end.

No action was taken against police involved in the following 2006 torture cases: the May torture of Alexandre Emilio and several others by police from Maputo's 12th Squadron; and the May beating of Generosa Anselmo Cossa, a delegate of RENAMO.

There continued to be reports of abuse and violence by members of the CPC.

Unlike in previous years, there were no reports of violence between FRELIMO and RENAMO supporters during the year.

Vigilante violence also resulted in deaths and injuries.

Prison and Detention Center Conditions

Prison conditions were extremely harsh and life threatening.

The Administration for Prison Services operated 211 prisons in 10 provinces and is under the Ministry of Justice. The Ministry of Interior and the police are responsible for jails at police stations.

Overcrowding remained a serious problem. The LDH noted that many prisons held up to three times the number of prisoners for which they were built, and that often prisoners slept in bathrooms, standing up, or in shifts. For example, the Maputo Central Prison held 2,246 prisoners in a facility designed to hold 800, and the Inhambane Provincial Prison held 346 prisoners in a facility designed to hold 75. During the first half of the year, the LDH visited 74 prisons and detention facilities, which held a total of 11,424 inmates in facilities designed to hold 5,913.

The LDH found that more than 500 detainees in the Maputo Central Prison (Machava) had been held beyond the 90-day preventive detention period. Of the prisons visited, 399 prisoners remained in jail after the end of their sentences (including 206 at the Maputo Central Prison). The LDH described 35 facilities as "physically inadequate." In detention facilities, overcrowding did not appear to be a serious problem. During the first half of the year, the LDH visited several police station detention facilities and noted that some detainees continued to be held beyond the maximum police station preventive detention period of 48 hours.

Reports continued that most prisoners received only one meal per day. In 13 of the prisons visited, the LDH characterized the provision of food as "poor." It was customary for families to bring food to prisoners; however, there continued to be occasional reports that guards demanded bribes in exchange for delivering food to prisoners. In several prisons, inmates prostituted themselves in exchange for food, according to the LDH.

There continued to be many reported deaths in prison, the vast majority due to illness. In many facilities overcrowding, lack of sanitation, potable water, and food also led to sickness.

In a series of prison visits conducted during the first half of the year, the LDH found malaria, scabies, and tuberculosis to be frequent among prisoners in nearly all of the country's prisons. LDH also found other illnesses caused by malnutrition, including paralysis and blindness. Both healthy and sick prisoners regularly were kept in the same cells. The spread of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases was a serious problem for the prison population, and the LDH noted that in many prisons, authorities denied condoms to inmates.

In the first half of 2007, the LDH reported 39 juveniles under the age of 16 held with adults from the general prison population.

Pretrial detainees were held with convicted prisoners.

International and domestic human rights groups had access to prisoners, although at the discretion of ministries of justice and interior. Unlike in previous years, the LDH reported facing serious problems obtaining credentials to visit prisons. While in some cases authorities simply did not respond to the LDH requests for credentials, in other cases certain prison directors denied the LDH access to visits despite having credentials.

d. Arbitrary Arrest or Detention

While the constitution and law prohibit arbitrary arrest and detention, both practices continued to occur.

Role of the Police and Security Apparatus

Forces under the Ministry of Interior, including the PIC, the PRM, and the Rapid Intervention Force, are responsible for internal security. An additional security body, the State Information and Security Service, reports directly to the president. The armed forces (FADM) are responsible for external security, but patrolled with the PRM and manned checkpoints due to a significant increase in crime during the year.

The police continued to be poorly paid, despite an increase in pay during the year. Trainee-level officers reportedly received approximately $89 (2,113 meticais) a month, while those at higher rank received approximately $115 (2,725 meticais) a month. Corruption and extortion by police were widespread, and impunity remained a problem. In January Deputy Interior Minister Jose Mandra said that criminal elements had infiltrated the police force.

Police regularly detained persons for arbitrary reasons and demanded identification documents solely to extort payments. Many crime victims reportedly avoided police assistance because of expected demands for bribes and a lack of confidence that the police would help. During the 12 months preceding April, the Maputo City Police Command initiated disciplinary and criminal proceedings against 113 Maputo policemen, expelling 28 of these from the force. The most common reasons for disciplinary action, according to Maputo's police chief, were collaboration with criminals, extortion of goods and money, excessive alcohol consumption, and abandonment of post. During the year the Ministry of Interior expelled at least 160 police officers. However, the vast majority of police who committed infractions were "recycled," sent back to school, and then transferred to a new unit. In the three months preceding March, the Ministry "recycled" 178 police. These included suspected criminals, thieves, and agents suspected of collaborating with criminals. A government-sponsored survey ranked the PRM as the second most corrupt public institution.

Professional training for police officers continued during the year; in August 60 PRM officers in Gaza Province completed human rights training.

Implementation of the 2003-12 strategic plan of action and modernization for the PRM continued; seven of its nine "guiding principles" reflected respect for human rights. While the plan acknowledged the problem of abuse of police powers, it made no specific provision for ensuring greater accountability for such abuses.

Arrest and Detention

Although the law provides that persons be arrested openly with warrants issued by a judge or prosecutor (except persons caught in the act of committing a crime), police continued to arrest and detain citizens arbitrarily. By law the maximum length of investigative detention without a warrant is 48 hours, during which time a detainee has the right to judicial review of the case. The individual may be detained another 90 days while the PIC continues its investigation. When a person is accused of a crime carrying a sentence of more than eight years, the individual may be detained up to 84 days without being charged formally. With court approval, such detainees may be held for two more periods of 84 days each without charge while the police complete the investigative process. The law provides that when the prescribed period for investigation has been completed and no charges have been brought, the detainee must be released. In many cases the authorities either were unaware of these regulations or ignored them, often also ignoring a detainee's constitutional right to counsel and to contact relatives or friends. The law provides that citizens have access to the courts as well as the right to representation, regardless of ability to pay for such services. However, due to a shortage of legal professionals, indigent defendants frequently had no legal representation.

The bail system remained poorly defined. Prisoners, their families, and NGOs continued to complain that police and prison officials demanded bribes for releasing prisoners.

There were reports that police harassed and arbitrarily detained persons, including journalists, during the year.

Government statistics indicated that approximately 40 percent of inmates were still awaiting trial. In addition there continued to be reports of detainees who spent longer in pretrial detention than the period of the sentence they eventually received. By law a judge has 48 hours to validate a detention in any proceeding; however, this statute often was not enforced.

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial

The constitution and law provide for an independent judiciary; however, the executive branch and the ruling FRELIMO party heavily influenced an understaffed and inadequately trained judiciary, particularly in the lower tiers. The judicial system continued to suffer from a lack of transparency and often did not comply with the principles of promotion and protection of human rights.

In May the parliament passed a new judicial organization law, which establishes intermediate appeals courts and expands the powers of district courts to rule on more serious criminal cases. The new law also empowers district court judges to rule on criminal cases with penalties ranging between eight and 12 years, compared with up to only two years before the law. The law permits judges to rule on a significantly higher number of cases and was expected to reduce the backlog in the judicial sector. In addition alternative measures such as work brigades, conditional release for prisoners who have completed half of their sentence, and traveling tribunals continued.

Approximately 93 of the country's 128 judicial districts had functioning courts; however, a shortage of judges and qualified staff was a major problem. In March Chief Justice Mario Mangaze reiterated that the country had only 36 percent of the judges and prosecutors needed to administer justice effectively. There were 221 judges (or approximately one per 90,500 inhabitants), 183 of whom held law degrees as required by law for all judges appointed after 2000. During the year 7 percent of the 1,429 staff employed by the courts held university degrees. Continuing problems included chronic absenteeism, unequal treatment, low salaries, corruption, deliberate delays, and omissions in handling cases. Unlike in the previous year, there were no reports that judges were expelled for illicit behavior.

The president appoints both the Supreme Court president and vice president. The Higher Judicial Magistrates' Council (CSMJ) prepares Supreme Court nominations and submits a list of qualified potential nominees to the president. Members of the CSMJ tended to be either FRELIMO members or FRELIMO-affiliated. The president makes all other judicial appointments.

There are two complementary formal justice systems: the civil justice system and the military justice system. The Supreme Court administers the civil system, and the Ministry of National Defense administers military courts. Under the Supreme Court there are province and district-level courts, and each province has a court of appeal. Cases in military courts may be appealed to the Supreme Court. Civilians are not under the jurisdiction of, or tried in, the military courts.

There also are courts that exercise limited, specialized jurisdiction, such as the Administrative Court, the Customs Court, and the Maritime Court. The Constitutional Council is charged with determining the constitutionality of laws and decrees, supervising the electoral process, declaring and validating electoral results, and ruling on electoral disputes. A separate court system exists for minors 16 years of age and younger. The government may send minors to correctional, educational, or other institutions.

Trial Procedures

Persons accused of crimes against the government are tried publicly in regular civilian courts under standard criminal judicial procedures. Members of the media may attend trials, although space limitations prevented the general public from attending. A judge may order a trial closed to the media in the interest of national security or to protect the privacy of the plaintiff in a sexual assault case. Article 12 of the judicial organization law "prohibits the production and public transmission of images and sounds at trials." There is no trial by jury.

In regular courts all accused persons, in principle, are presumed innocent and have the right to legal counsel and appeal; however, authorities did not always respect these rights. Although the law specifically provides for public defenders for the accused, such assistance generally was not available in practice, particularly in rural areas. The LDH reported that most citizens remained unaware of this right, and many had no access to legal counsel. Some NGOs continued to offer limited legal counsel at little or no cost to both defendants and prisoners. Only judges or lawyers may confront or question witnesses.

Outside the formal court system, local customary courts, and traditional authority figures often adjudicated matters such as estate and divorce cases. Respected local arbiters with no formal training staffed customary courts.

Political Prisoners and Detainees

There were no confirmed reports of political prisoners or detainees. Unlike in the previous year, RENAMO did not continue to allege that 10 of its party members were being held as political prisoners in Mutarara District in Tete Province.

Civil Judicial Procedures and Remedies

Although the law provides for an independent and impartial judiciary in civil matters, in practice the judiciary was subject to political interference.

f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence

The constitution and law prohibit such actions, and the government generally respected these prohibitions in practice. However, opposition party members alleged that government intelligence services and ruling party activists continued without warrants to monitor telephone calls, conduct surveillance of their offices, follow opposition members, use informants, and disrupt party activities in certain areas of the country, including in Cabo Delgado and Nampula Provinces. By law police require a warrant to enter homes and businesses and also to monitor telephone calls.

In August the media reported that the FADM required senior members to complete a confidential questionnaire regarding party affiliation, activities in support of the party, and whether the individual supported FRELIMO. Some observers believed the questionnaire was evidence of the politicization of the FADM. Media reports noted that while Minister of Defense Tobias Dai denied knowledge of the questionnaire, Brigadier General Jorge Gune acknowledged that he had filled out several questionnaires since achieving higher rank in the FADM.

Unlike in the previous year, there were no reports that school administrators in Muecate district in Nampula Province forced single male teachers to marry to mitigate the number of sexual assaults of female students by teachers.

Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

a. Freedom of Speech and Press

Although the constitution and law provide for freedom of speech and of the press, in practice there were some restrictions on these rights. There were occasional reports that police harassed journalists, and journalists admitted that self-censorship was common. In its annual report on press freedom, the NGO Freedom House noted that the press was "partially free," while also acknowledging the continued growth of private media. The NGO Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) noted in its annual report that court decisions involving several independent media outlets during the year created a constraining environment. Individuals could criticize the government publicly or privately without reprisal.

The independent media were active and expressed a wide variety of views. The government maintained majority ownership in Noticias, the main newspaper and the only daily with nationwide distribution. Noticias, the daily Diario de Mocambique, and the weekly Domingo largely reflected the views of the government and provided marginal, often critical coverage of RENAMO but also demonstrated a willingness to examine government actions. The government-run news agency, AIM, often printed stories critical of the performance of government ministries or agencies.

The international media were allowed to operate freely.

There were numerous private radio stations that operated throughout the country. Radio Mocambique, which received 60 percent of its operating budget from the government, was the most influential media service with the largest audience in the country. While broadcasting debates on important issues of the country, Radio Mocambique tended to invite participants that were not critical of the government.

MISA noted that the process for obtaining a radio operating license was often long, convoluted, and politically biased. According to MISA, a new law was needed which would clearly delineate the difference between commercial and public radio.

The government supplied 80 percent of the operating budget for Televisao de Mocambique (TVM), the television station that broadcast to the largest percentage of the population. While TVM provided more balanced news coverage than in previous years, it retained a strong government and FRELIMO bias.

On January 3, the Maputo City Court ordered the return of all equipment seized by law enforcement officers in December 2006 from the private television station STV. While the seizure ostensibly involved a severance pay dispute, STV was a frequent critic of the government, leading many civil society groups to believe the seizure was a crackdown on STV.

Security forces harassed and arbitrarily detained local journalists during the year. In January police in Beira detained without charge photojournalist Celeste MacAurthur of the Diario de Mocambique for taking pictures of an abandoned house. Police released MacAurthur later the same day. In March police arrested Celso Manguana, a reporter for Canal de Mocambique, and detained him for three days. Police accused Manguana of "insulting authority" after he went to a police station to inquire about the arrests of several demonstrators. He was released after the intervention of the attorney general and the LDH.

In August Canal de Mocambique reported that one of its journalists, Luis Nhachote, received a threat message on his cell phone apparently for an article he published critical of FRELIMO.

In November Nyimpine Chissano, oldest son of former President Joaquim Chissano, and "joint moral author" in the killing of investigative journalist Carlos Cardoso in 2000, died.

The National Union of Journalists, MISA, and the Mozambican Editor's Forum criticized the new judicial organization law. The groups argued that Article 12, which "prohibits the production and public transmission of images and sounds at trials" was a serious threat to press freedom by imposing a blanket ban on microphones and cameras in the courtroom.

Defamation of the president is prohibited; however, no one was charged with the offense during the year.

MISA condemned at least two court rulings in libel suits brought against the independent newspapers Horizonte and Faisca during the year. While the cases did not involve the government, MISA argued that the damages demanded would shut down the newspapers and silence the few alternatives to government sources of information.

Newsprint and other printing supplies must be imported from South Africa, and the government did not exempt these supplies from import duties. Some newspapers found it more cost-effective to print in South Africa and import the final product. Other journals were only published in electronic versions, severely limiting their readership. Journals printed on paper had limited readership beyond Maputo, due to high transportation costs.

Internet Freedom

There were no government restrictions on access to the Internet or reports that the government monitored e-mail or Internet chat rooms. Individuals and groups could engage in the peaceful expression of views via the Internet, including by e-mail. While public access to the Internet continued to expand, particularly in the larger cities, lack of infrastructure in the rural parts of the country and installation costs limited overall use.

Academic Freedom and Cultural Events

While the government generally did not restrict academic freedom, there were reports that teachers at the university, secondary, and primary school level felt pressure to align themselves with FRELIMO, particularly in the central and northern provinces.

In April the Administrative Tribunal reinstated Ismael Mussa, a RENAMO parliamentary deputy and lecturer demoted from his position as director of social services at the state-run Eduardo Mondlane University (UEM) in 2005. Despite the ruling, in July the UEM again removed Mussa from his position as director. While university regulations allow the vice chancellor to appoint or dismiss directors, observers suspected political harassment.

b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

Freedom of Assembly

The constitution and law provide for freedom of assembly; however, there was one instance in which police briefly detained demonstrators during the year. While the law regulates public demonstrations, it does not apply to private gatherings held indoors and by individual invitation, nor does it affect religious gatherings or election campaigning.

In April police, apparently without cause, detained 10 protestors in front of the National Assembly building. According to the newsfax A Canal de Mocambique, six of the protestors were held overnight before being released without explanation the following day.

In March, for the first time since 2004, local authorities in Maputo city permitted a group of madjermanes to hold a public march. The madjermanes, a group of approximately 15,000 citizens who worked in the former East Germany, demanded payment of benefits for their past work.

Freedom of Association

The constitution and law generally provide for freedom of association, although the government imposed some limits on this right. According to the law a political party is required to demonstrate that it has no regional, racial, ethnic, or religious exclusiveness and must secure at least 2,000 signatures to be recognized. There were approximately 50 registered political parties.

A government decree regulates the registration and activities of foreign NGOs. The registration process for foreign NGOs and religious groups reportedly involved significant discretion on the part of government officials and regularly took several months.

c. Freedom of Religion

The constitution and law provide for freedom of religion, and the government generally respected this right in practice.

The constitution and the law governing political parties specifically forbid religious groups from organizing political parties and any political party from sponsoring religious propaganda as threats to national unity.

The Catholic Church and some Muslim communities continued to request the return of certain properties nationalized by the government in the years immediately following independence, including schools, health centers, shops, and residences.

Societal Abuses and Discrimination

Relations among various religions groups were generally amicable. In September the PRM arrested Fernando Bernardo Arrone and Fabiao Domingos for their roles in burning three mosques in late August in Lichinga, Niassa Province. Arrone confessed that he received $337 (8,000 meticais) from the Catholic Church for each mosque. The investigation into the incidents was ongoing at year's end.

There was a very small Jewish population, and there were no reports of anti-Semitic acts.

For a more detailed discussion, see the 2007 International Religious Freedom Report.

d. Freedom of Movement, Internally Displaced Persons, Protection of Refugees, and Stateless Persons

While the law provides for freedom of movement within the country, foreign travel, emigration, and repatriation, the government sometimes infringed upon these rights in practice.

Traffic checkpoints are legal and under the jurisdiction of traffic police. Checkpoints occasionally affected freedom of movement, and according to press reports, authorities sometimes abused and demanded bribes from citizens at checkpoints. Police sometimes stopped foreigners and ordered them to present original passports or resident papers, refused to accept notarized copies, and fined or detained those who failed to show proper documents. Police, including members of CPCs, also routinely harassed, detained, and extorted bribes from local citizens for failure to carry identity papers.

The law prohibits forced exile, and the government did not use it.

Protection of Refugees

The laws provide for the granting of asylum or refugee status in accordance with the 1951 UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 protocol, and the government has established a system for providing protection to refugees. In practice the government provided protection against "refoulement," the return of persons to a country where there is reason to believe they feared persecution. The government cooperated with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other humanitarian organizations in assisting refugees and asylum seekers.

While the government assisted in the repatriation of 300 refugees in May, Canal de Mocambique reported in July that due to a lack of resources, the government was not able to satisfy requests by some refugees to return to their countries of origin.

In April AIM reported on several attacks against Burundian and Congolese refugees in Nampula Province. The government continued to limit refugee movement within the country. Refugees must request authorization to move outside the geographic region in which they have been registered. In addition refugees residing within the Marratane camp in Nampula Province must request authorization to leave its boundaries, which has perpetuated the extracting of bribes by officials.

Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their Government

The constitution and law provide citizens the right to change their government peacefully, and citizens exercised this right in practice through periodic, free, and fair elections held on the basis of universal suffrage.

Elections and Political Participation

In 2004 citizens elected Armando Guebuza of the ruling FRELIMO party as president in the country's third multiparty general elections. While domestic and international observers noted that voting day procedures generally followed international norms, they also documented irregularities during the campaign and in the vote count. FRELIMO used significant state funds and resources for campaign purposes, in violation of election law. RENAMO issued complaints of election fraud to several agencies, including the Constitutional Council. In January 2005 the Constitutional Council affirmed Guebuza as the winner.

Unlike in previous years, there were no reports of violence between FRELIMO and RENAMO supporters during the year.

There were 93 women in the 250-seat National Assembly. The prime minister was a woman, and women held six of the 24 ministerial positions and four of the 18 vice ministerial positions. Women held 30 percent of the seats on FRELIMO's 160-member Central Committee and six seats on the 17-member Political Commission.

Members of many ethnic groups held key positions in both the legislative and executive branches. There was no evidence that specific ethnic groups were excluded.

Government Corruption and Transparency

While the law provides criminal penalties for official corruption, the government did not implement the law effectively, and officials often engaged in corrupt practices with impunity. No corruption cases involving high-profile individuals have been brought to trial during the Guebuza administration.

The World Bank's Worldwide Governance Indicators reflected that corruption was a serious problem.

Despite the government's strong anticorruption rhetoric, corruption in the executive and legislative branches was widely perceived to be endemic. Petty corruption by low-level government officials to supplement low incomes, and high-level corruption by a small group of politically connected elites continued to be the norm. Corruption largely resulted from a lack of checks and balances, minimal accountability, and a culture of impunity. Local NGOs, such as the Center for Public Integrity, and media groups continued to be the main forces fighting corruption, reporting and investigating numerous corruption cases. The law requires that all members of the government declare and deposit their assets with the Constitutional Council, but does not require that such information be made available to the general public.

The Central Office for the Combat of Corruption (GCCC) functions as an autonomous unit under the attorney general's office with its own state budget. According to the GCCC, from January to August prosecutors brought charges in 13 cases of corruption. In December the Ministry of Civil Service reported that authorities expelled nearly 400 public servants for various irregularities during the year. In August the Supreme Court refused to consider some 15 corruption cases brought forward by the GCCC after several judges claimed the GCCC lacked legal authority to prosecute. In December the attorney general announced that the GCCC would no longer have the power to investigate cases of forgery, swindling, murder, and theft, drastically reducing its scope.

Several new cases of corruption were reported. In January the GCCC ordered the arrest of Deputy Director of the Maputo Central Prison Arminda Parruque for under invoicing and the disappearance of large sums of money. Parruque was being held at the Maputo Civil Prison, and an investigation was ongoing at year's end.

In January authorities arrested six health service administrators in Cabo Delgado Province for the theft of approximately $126,000 (3 million meticais) intended for funding health services in six districts. There were no further developments by year's end.

In March authorities arrested the provincial administrator for youth and sports in Niassa Province for the theft of $76,000 (1.8 million meticais). The investigation was ongoing at year's end.

There were no further developments in the 2006 investigations into alleged corruption by government officials.

The NGO Etica Mozambique, which operated corruption reporting centers in major cities to provide a mechanism for citizens to anonymously report incidences of corruption, became inactive during the year. Management and resource constraints were ongoing problems, and none of the cases it had transferred to the Ministry of Justice had gone to trial.

There were no laws providing for public access to government information, and in practice the government restricted citizens' and noncitizens' access to public information.

Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights

Domestic and international human rights groups generally operated without government restriction, investigating and publishing their findings on human rights cases. Although at times slow, government officials were generally cooperative and responsive to their views. Registration procedures for NGOs often were lengthy.

While an independent ombudsman position to investigate allegations of abuses, including human rights violations, by state officials was created by constitutional amendment in 2005, an ombudsman had yet to be named.

Section 5 Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons

The constitution and law prohibit discrimination based on race, gender, disability, language, or social status, but in practice discrimination persisted against women, persons with disabilities, and persons with HIV/AIDS.

Women

The law prohibits rape (excluding spousal rape) but was not effectively enforced. Penalties ranged from two to eight years' imprisonment if the victim is 12 years of age or older, and eight to 12 years' imprisonment if the victim is under the age of 12. While there were no official estimates as to the extent of spousal rape, it was regarded as a common problem. According to NGO reports, many families preferred to settle such matters privately through financial remuneration rather than through the formal judicial system. In August the Maputo High Court sentenced Luis Camillo to 17 years' imprisonment for the 2004 rape of two South African women near Johannesburg.

Reports indicated that domestic violence against women, particularly spousal rape and beatings, was widespread, and the PRM received 5,667 reports of violence against women through September. There is no law that defines domestic violence as a crime, but laws prohibiting rape, battery, and assault could be used to prosecute domestic violence. In many circles women believed it was acceptable for their husbands to beat them. Cultural pressures discouraged women from taking legal action against abusive spouses.

A 15-month survey released in August 2006 revealed that 54 percent of women respondents admitted suffering an act of physical or sexual violence by a man at some point in their lives, 37 percent in the last five years, and 21 percent during the past year.

There was no update on the December 2006 case of Antineco Chibewa, who killed his 36-year-old wife for being too old.

The government and NGOs often worked together to combat domestic violence. The PRM operated special women and children's units in police squadrons that received cases of domestic violence, sexual assault, and violence against children; the units provided assistance to victims and their families. All 30 police squadrons in Maputo had women and children's centers. In addition all police squadrons in the country installed a "green line" (a free phone line) to receive complaints of violence against women and children.

Kukuyana, a national network of women living with HIV/AIDS, reported that many women were expelled from their homes and/or abandoned by their husbands and relatives because they were HIV positive. It also reported that some women who were widowed by HIV/AIDS were accused of being witches who purposely killed their husbands to acquire belongings, and in retribution were deprived of all belongings.

Prostitution is legal, although it is governed by several laws against indecency and immoral behavior and restricted to certain areas. The practice was widespread and particularly prevalent along major transportation corridors and in border towns where long-distance truckers overnight. Young women without means of support were at the greatest risk for being drawn into prostitution.

Sexual harassment is illegal; however, it was pervasive in business, government, and education. Although no formal data exists, the media reported numerous instances of harassment during the year.

Forced marriage of girls and women was a problem.

"Purification," whereby a widowed woman is obligated to have unprotected sex with a member of her husband's family, continued to be practiced, particularly in rural areas.

With the exception of some ethnic and religious groups, the groom's family provided a dowry to the bride's family, usually in the form of livestock, money, or other goods. For Muslims, the bride's family usually paid for the wedding and provided gifts. These exchanges contributed to violence and other inequalities, due to the perception that the women subsequently were "owned" by the husband.

The Family Law (which took effect in 2005) sets the age of marriage for both genders at 18 for those with parental consent, and 21 for those without parental consent. The law also eliminates husbands' de facto status as heads of families, and legalizes civil, religious, and common law unions. While the law does not recognize new cases of polygyny, it grants women already in polygynous marriages full marital and inheritance rights. The law more precisely defines women's legal rights with regard to property, child custody, and other issues. However, nearly three years after taking effect, a survey conducted by the NGO MULEIDE found that approximately 63 percent of women remained uninformed about the law. A Save the Children report on inheritance practices released in June noted that 60 percent of women cited discrimination in the inheritance process. The same report highlighted cases in which women lost inheritance rights for not being "purified" following the death of their husbands.

Customary law was still practiced in many parts of the country. In some regions, particularly the northern provinces, women had limited access to the formal judicial system for enforcement of rights provided under the civil code and instead relied on customary law to settle disputes. Under customary law, women have no rights to the disposition of land.

The law grants citizenship to the foreign-born wife of a male citizen but not to the foreign-born husband of a female citizen.

Women continued to experience economic discrimination, were three times less likely than men to be represented in the public and private sectors, and often received lower pay than men for the same work.

Children

While the government continued to stress the importance of children's rights and welfare, significant problems remained.

A UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) report released in May estimated that the level of birth registration was less than 40 percent, and that 94 percent of children under age four were not registered. In some cases, particularly in rural areas, lack of birth certificates prevented citizens from registering for school, access to health care, and the right to obtain public documents, such as identity cards or passports.

Education is compulsory through age 12, but enforcement was inconsistent due to the lack of resources and the need for additional schools. Public education is free, but most families paid enrollment fees for each child and purchased books, uniforms, and other school supplies. Children who have a certificate that testifies their parents' incomes are below a certain poverty level are exempt from fees, but for most families, fees and associated costs remained a significant financial burden.

During the year UNICEF estimated that 94 percent of children were enrolled in school; primary school enrollment reached 4.5 million, and secondary school enrollment increased from 45,000 to approximately 360,000 since 1992. Despite joint government/NGO initiatives in specific localities and districts to improve girls' school attendance, completion rates for primary school students were approximately 41 percent for boys and 29 percent for girls. In January a report released by Save the Children noted that more than one million children (the majority of whom were girls) between the ages of six and 11 either had never been to school or did not currently attend. Primary schools remained overcrowded, and approximately 70 percent lacked adequate sanitation.

The PRM reported more than 2,800 cases of child abuse during the year, but noted that the vast majority of cases went unreported. Most cases involved sexual abuse, physical abuse, or negligence. Several cases of fathers sexually abusing their daughters were reported during the year. Sexual abuse in schools was a growing problem. An analysis undertaken by Actionaid International in Zambezia, Manica, and Maputo provinces revealed that 78 percent of girls between eight and 18 were forced to have sex with their professors to pass their class. A separate joint study by UNICEF, Actionaid International, and Save the Children revealed that one in five girls over the age of 15 reported being sexually abused by professors and that most children did not report these cases because they were afraid or ashamed. The press continued to report cases in which primary and secondary school students often paid teachers in exchange for a spot in a class or better grades.

There continued to be reports in newspapers of physical abuse of students by teachers during the year.

Local customs, primarily in the northern provinces and in Muslim and South Asian communities, resulted in underage marriage. The daily Noticias reported that in the rural areas of Nampula Province, some districts reported 10 percent fewer female students enrolled in school compared with 2006 as a result of child marriage.

While the law prohibits pornography, child prostitution, and sexual abuse of children under 16 and proscribes prison sentences and fines for perpetrators, exploitation of children below the age of 15 continued, and child prostitution remained a problem. In practice perpetrators of these crimes rarely were identified and prosecuted, and punishment was not commensurate with the crime.

The country continued to have a problem with street children, but no nationwide figures were available.

Zimbabwean children, many of whom entered the country alone, continued to face labor exploitation and discrimination. They lacked protection due to inadequate documentation and had limited access to schools and other social welfare institutions. Coercion of girls into the sex industry was common.

The government took steps to address the problems facing HIV/AIDS orphans. A 2006 UNICEF study estimated that of the country's 1.6 million orphans, more than 380,000 lost either one or both parents to HIV/AIDS. Several government agencies, including the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Women and Social Action, implemented programs to provide health assistance and vocational education for HIV/AIDS orphans.

The Maputo City Office of Women and Social Action continued its program of rescuing abandoned orphans and assisting single mothers who headed families of three or more persons. They also offered special classes to children of broken homes in local schools. NGO groups sponsored food, shelter, and education programs in all major cities.

Trafficking in Persons

Although the law does not prohibit trafficking in persons, traffickers could be prosecuted using 13 related articles of the penal code on sexual assault, rape, abduction, and child abuse.

The country was a source, transit, and possibly a destination for trafficked persons. While there were no official statistics, NGOs believed that trafficking was becoming a serious problem. UNICEF released a report in January that revealed more than 1,000 cases of women and children trafficked from Mozambique to South Africa between 2002 and 2006. Most trafficking victims were transported to South Africa on the highway from Maputo to Johannesburg. The majority of victims were women and children trafficked for both sexual exploitation and forced labor. Boys were trafficked as laborers on South African farms and in mines, and girls were trafficked to work as prostitutes and as domestics. Poverty, a history of child migration, and weak border controls all contributed to trafficking.

Child prostitution appeared to be most prevalent in Maputo, Nampula, Beira, and at border towns and overnight stopping points along key transportation routes. Child prostitution reportedly was growing in the Maputo, Beira, and Nacala areas, which had highly mobile populations and a large number of transport workers. Child prostitution also was reported in Sofala and Zambezia provinces. Some NGOs provided health care, counseling, and training in other vocations to children engaged in prostitution.

Traffickers were principally citizens or South African. Trafficking groups included small networks of citizens based in Maputo and Nampula, and there were reports that organized crime groups were involved. Traffickers often lured victims by promising better jobs in South Africa. Once there, they were threatened with exposure of their illegal status and forced to work for little or no pay. Often women were sexually assaulted en route to their destination or once they arrived in South Africa. There were also reports that syndicates trafficked young girls from Thailand through the country en route to South Africa.

The government's law enforcement efforts decreased over the previous year, and a paucity of training resources continued to hinder greater efforts. There were no prosecutions or convictions for trafficking cases during the year. Many lower-ranking police and border control agents were suspected of accepting bribes from traffickers.

Due to a lack of resources, government officials regularly called on NGOs for the provision of protection and assistance to victims, including shelter, food, counseling, and rehabilitation. The Ministry of Interior expanded the number of offices for attending to women and child victims of violence from 96 to 152, and provided victims' assistance training for police officers who dealt with such cases. The police also conducted general training on trafficking and detecting at-risk children in the central provinces of Sofala, Manica, and Zambezia and the northern province of Nampula.

Persons with Disabilities

Although the constitution and law stipulate that citizens with disabilities shall fully enjoy the same rights as all other citizens, the government provided few resources to implement this provision. Discrimination was common against persons with disabilities in employment, education, access to health care, and in the provision of other state services. The law does not mandate access to buildings for persons with disabilities, but the Ministry of Public Works and Habitation worked to ensure that public buildings in Maputo city provided access to persons with disabilities. Electoral law provides for the needs of voters with disabilities in the polling booths.

Concerns of persons with disabilities included lack of access to socioeconomic opportunities and employment, limited access to buildings and transportation, and a lack of wheelchairs. Special access facilities were rare. There were few job opportunities for persons with disabilities in the formal sector.

The country's only psychiatric hospital was overwhelmed with patients and lacked the means to guarantee even basic nutrition, medicine, or shelter. During the first six months of the year, the hospital received 1,160 patients, compared with 348 during the same period in 2006. Doctors at the hospital also reported that many abandoned family members with disabilities at the hospital. Veterans with disabilities continued to complain about not receiving pensions.

The Ministry of Women and Social Action is responsible for protecting the rights of persons with disabilities. The four-year National Action Plan in the Area of Disabilities announced in 2006 still required budget allocation to be effectively implemented.

Maputo city offered free bus passes to persons with disabilities.

National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

There were reports of tension between newly arrived Chinese guest workers, often employed in construction, and citizens in Maputo city and Beira, Sofala Province.

There were reports of discrimination by police against Zimbabwean immigrants during the year.

Unlike in the previous year, there were no reports of vigilante killings of West African immigrants.

Other Societal Abuses and Discrimination

The law prohibits discrimination on the basis of HIV/AIDS, and the Ministry of Labor generally intervened in cases of perceived discrimination by employers. In July the Ministry of Labor reported receiving more than 100 cases annually of workers being dismissed by their employers for having HIV/AIDS. Often, the worker was obligated by the employer to take HIV/AIDS tests. In response to these violations, the ministry registered the complaints and confronted companies responsible for dismissals.

The law does not specifically prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, and there were occasional such reports. Despite the absence of a law, the LDH reported cases of discrimination against homosexuals in the judicial system. The Workers Law, passed during the year, includes an article that prevents discrimination in the workplace based on a number of factors, including sexual orientation.

Section 6 Worker Rights

a. The Right of Association

The constitution and law provide that all workers are free to join a trade union of their choice without previous authorization or excessive requirements, and workers exercised these rights in practice. Labor laws guaranteeing the right of association do not cover government employees, including firefighters, members of the judicial authorities, and prison guards. As of June the Mozambican Workers' Association (OTM) estimated that of the approximately 500,000 workers in the formal sector, 98,000 were unionized. Some unions alleged that the OTM was under the influence of FRELIMO.

The law prohibits antiunion discrimination; however, there were reports that many companies continued to engage in antiunion discrimination by replacing persons at the end of contracts, dismissing workers for going on strike, and not abiding by collective bargaining agreements.

b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

Although the law provides for the right of workers to organize and engage in collective bargaining, such contracts covered less than 2 percent of the work force. The government did not set private sector salaries. Unions were responsible for negotiating wage increases.

The law explicitly provides for the right to strike, and workers exercised this right in practice; however, civil servants, police, military personnel, and workers in other essential services (including sanitation, firefighting, and health care) do not have the right to strike. The law specifies that strikers must notify police, the government, union, and employers 48 hours in advance of intended strikes.

On July 16, the head of the Mafambisse security force in Sofala province shot and killed striking worker Domingos Chanjane and injured two others. While workers participating in the strike insisted the perpetrator was also a member of the police, a PRM spokesman denied the claim. There were no further updates at year's end.

There are no special laws or exemption from regular labor laws in the few export processing zones.

c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

The law prohibits forced and compulsory labor, including by children, and while there were few reports that such practices occurred in the formal economy, forced and bonded labor, particularly by children, was common in rural areas.

d. Prohibition of Child Labor and Minimum Age for Employment

While the law prohibits child labor, it remained a problem. In the formal economy, the minimum working age without restrictions is 18 years of age. The law permits children between 15 and 18 to work, but the employer is required to provide for their education and professional training and to ensure that conditions of work are not damaging to their physical and moral development. Children between the ages of 12 and 15 are permitted to work under special conditions authorized jointly by the ministries of labor, health, and education. For children under the age of 18, the maximum workweek is 38 hours, the maximum workday is seven hours, and they are not permitted to work in unhealthy or dangerous occupations or those requiring significant physical effort. Children must undergo a medical examination before beginning work. By law children must be paid at least the minimum wage or a minimum of two-thirds of the adult salary, whichever is higher.

Although the law prohibits forced and bonded labor by children, it was considered to be a common problem, especially in rural areas. Many children in rural areas were forced to work, particularly in commercial agriculture, as domestics, and in prostitution. The major factors contributing to the worst forms of child labor were chronic family poverty, lack of employment for adults, breakdown of family support mechanisms, the changing economic environment, lack of educational opportunities, gender inequality, and the impact of HIV/AIDS. Children, including those under the age of 15, commonly worked on family farms in seasonal harvests or on commercial plantations, where they picked cotton or tea leaves and were paid on a piecework basis.

The Ministry of Labor regulates child labor in both the informal and formal sectors. Labor inspectors may obtain court orders and use police to enforce compliance with child labor provisions. Violations of child labor provisions are punishable with fines ranging from one to 40 monthly salaries at minimum wage. Enforcement mechanisms generally were adequate in the formal sector but remained poor in the informal sector. The Labor Inspectorate and police forces lacked adequate staff, funds, and training to investigate child labor cases, especially in areas outside the capital where a majority of the abuses occurred. Although the government provided training for police on child prostitution and abuse, there was no specialized child labor training for the Labor Inspectorate. The government disseminated information and provided education about the dangers of child labor to the general public.

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

In May the government granted a 14 percent increase in the statutory minimum wage for industry and services (including employees in public administration), bringing it to approximately $69 (1,645 meticais) per month. The government granted a 10 percent increase in the minimum wage in the agricultural sector bringing the monthly total to $47 (1,126 meticais). Despite the increase, which was slightly above the 8.2 percent inflation rate reported during the year, neither minimum wage provided a decent standard of living for a worker and family. Although the industrial sector frequently paid above minimum wage, there was little industry outside of the Maputo area. In addition less than 10 percent of workers held salaried positions, and the majority of the labor force worked in subsistence farming. Many workers used a variety of strategies to survive, including finding a second job, maintaining their own gardens, or depending on the income of other family members.

The Ministry of Labor is responsible for enforcing the minimum wage rates in the private sector and the Ministry of Finance in the public sector. Violations of minimum wage rates usually were investigated only after workers registered a complaint. Workers generally received benefits, such as transportation and food, in addition to wages.

The standard legal workweek is 40 hours but can be extended to 48 hours. After 48 hours, overtime must be paid at 50 percent over the base hourly salary. Overtime is limited by law to two hours per day and 100 hours per year. Foreign workers are protected under the law.

Worker complaints continued during the year concerning: employers deducting social security contributions from wages but failing to pay them into accounts; lack of access to the social security system; not adhering to the law concerning firings; and intimidation of union members.

In the small formal sector, health and environmental laws were in place to protect workers; however, the Ministry of Labor did not effectively enforce these laws, and the government only occasionally closed firms for noncompliance. There continued to be significant violations of labor laws in many companies and services. Workers have the right to remove themselves from work situations that endanger their health or safety without jeopardy to their continued employment; in practice threats of dismissal and peer pressure restricted this right.

In October an inspector from the Ministry of Labor found some 90 workers at the Golden Fields Flower Company (owned by former Foreign Minister Leonard Simao and his wife), in slave-like conditions, working long hours without proper protective equipment, living in tents, and with no access to sanitary facilities or safe drinking water. The workers had been recruited in Tete and Manica provinces, promised good working conditions, and provided transportation to Maputo. However, when the workers complained to the owners and asked to be provided transportation back to their home provinces, they were denied. Following the visit of the labor inspector, the government immediately suspended the company's operations and ordered the return of workers to their home provinces.

As of mid-September, the Ministry of Labor reported 62 labor accident victims, 40 of whom were temporarily incapacitated and 22 of whom were permanently incapacitated. While the law imposes fines for recurring accidents, no fines were imposed during the year. The law also requires that companies insure workers, but the Ministry of Labor estimates indicated that only between 50 and 60 percent of companies actually provided coverage.

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