Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
Report

Part 1: Political and Human Rights Conditions

Mozambique is a constitutional democracy. Citizens elected President Armando Guebuza in December 2004 in what domestic and international observers judged to be generally free and fair elections, despite some irregularities. The Front for the Liberation of Mozambique has been the ruling political party since independence in 1975, heavily influencing policymaking and implementation. Incidents of serious human rights abuses in some areas, including vigilante killings, increased during 2008. Security forces continued to commit unlawful killings, although the government took steps to prosecute perpetrators. While civilian authorities generally maintained effective control of the security forces, there were some instances in which elements of the security forces acted independently. Prison conditions improved, but remained harsh and life threatening, resulting in several deaths. Arbitrary arrest and detention as well as lengthy pretrial detentions continued to be problems. The judiciary was understaffed, inadequately trained, inefficient, and heavily influenced by the ruling party. Political and judicial decisions involving independent media outlets constrained press freedom. Several societal problems remained widespread, such as domestic violence; discrimination against women; abuse, exploitation, and forced labor of children; trafficking of women and children; and discrimination against persons with HIV/AIDS.

Part 2: U.S. Government Democracy Objectives

In order to build a stronger democratic framework in the country, many U.S. programs incorporate an anticorruption focus. The United States dedicates resources to strengthening democracy and governance by supporting improvements in national institutions. More specifically, U.S. programming continues to focus on supporting civic education, professionalizing the police and border security forces, and increasing rule of law.

Part 3: Supporting Top Priorities and Other Aspects of Human Rights and Democratic Governance

To strengthen democracy and good governance, the United States continues its emphasis on anticorruption programs, including activities with both the government and civil society. Since 2002 the United States has sent a judicial advisor to train the Central Office to Combat Corruption (GCCC) in the Office of the Attorney General. The June 2008 visit evaluated the progress of the criminal justice assistance program and provided recommendations regarding the development of greater capabilities to investigate complex crimes; amending the law to include all corruption-related crimes (only an estimated 20 percent are currently able to be prosecuted under the law); encouraging the inclusion of more modern investigation techniques; and working to ensure that the GCCC is not only allowed to investigate, but also to charge and prosecute corruption crimes. Separately, the United States worked to improve the performance of the GCCC by providing funds to train prosecutors in investigative techniques. In addition, U.S. assistance allowed a member of parliament, an official from the Interior Ministry, and a provincial governor to travel to the United States and participate in programs related to good governance, accountability, and democracy.

U.S. officials meet often with local NGOs that monitor media freedom, prison conditions, allegations of torture, allegations of summary executions, and other human rights abuses. The United States provides support to radio and print organizations to enhance media independence. For example, U.S. funding enabled an experienced media practitioner and consultant to train local press in the cities of Maputo, Beira, and Nampula on investigative journalism. During the U.S. election, the United States funded several leaders, including two senior media editors, to learn about election-related journalism. The United States supported a two-part media training course targeting community radio and female journalists outside of the capital. The United States also conducts activities to promote religious freedom and tolerance, particularly with respect to the Muslim community. In September 2008 the United States formalized an assistance program that focuses on programs designed to improve infrastructure, land tenure, and agricultural access in the predominantly Muslim north.

The United States supports the strengthening of democratic processes and rule of law. In preparation for elections in 2008 and 2009, the United States collaborated with a local civil rights organization to organize three debates on election processes and hosted an event on the night of the U.S. national election featuring political debate. In November 2008 the United States supported an international observer mission to monitor 43 municipal elections, providing the largest contingent of observers of any diplomatic entity or international NGO. With U.S. support, the international observer mission also monitored a subsequent run-off election. U.S. officials meet regularly with opposition and civil society groups to monitor respect for human rights and democratic processes. The United States funded a democracy and governance assessment that is scheduled for release in 2009. The United States also supported professionalization of police and border security personnel through training courses.

The United States is supporting efforts to address issues of trafficking in persons, child labor, and the protection of orphans and vulnerable children through both targeted assistance and health programs that incorporate cross-cutting issues. In 2008 the United States advocated successfully for the passage of the antitrafficking law, which was unanimously passed by the National Assembly in April. The United States continued to work with a children's rights NGO coalition to provide technical assistance to government officials, including key members of the police and judiciary, related to the new law. The United States continued to support the country's only shelter for victims of trafficking. The United States partnered with a private media group to produce a soap opera dealing with health issues, including the stigma of HIV/AIDS. The United States concluded its support of a program to reduce exploitive child labor and increase public awareness, which provided non-formal education services for children most in need and strengthened the policymaking process. The United States also supported a broad range of health programs designed to help improve the rights of women, as well as orphans and vulnerable children.

[This is a mobile copy of Mozambique]