Mozambique’s Army accused of human rights violations in Cabo Delgado

Mozambican soldiers patrol the streets in Mocimboa da Praia, March 2018 Mozambican soldiers patrol the streets in Mocimboa da Praia, March 2018 ADRIEN BARBIER/AFP

09 September 2020

Amnesty International accuses Mozambican security forces of torture and ill-treatment of detainees in the conflict-torn province of Cabo Delgado

After verifying evidence of severe abuses against prisoners, Amnesty International called on the Mozambique government to launch a “swift, transparent and impartial investigation”. The rights group analyzed five videos and three photos showing torture and ill-treatment of detainees, “possible extrajudicial executions” and the transport and discarding of a large number of corpses into apparent mass graves.”

The soldiers in the videos were wearing the uniforms of the Mozambique Armed Defense Forces (FADM) and the Mozambique Rapid Intervention Police (PIR). Regarding the time and location of the facts, Amnesty International was only able to determine that the videos were filmed “in or near Cabo Delgado in the first half of 2020”. The detainees were referred to as “Al-Shabaab” - meaning “the youth” in Arabic – which is the local name for the Islamist militants active in the area. Cabo Delgado, where the facts allegedly took place, is the northernmost province of Mozambique, bordering Tanzania to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the east. Since October 2017, Cabo Delgado has been engulfed in the fighting between national security forces and an insurgent armed group affiliated with the Islamic State. In three years only, according to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED), the conflict has cost the lives of 1003 civilians and 851 combatants on either side. During 2020, the insurgency stepped up, culminating with the strategic capture of Mocimboa da Praia by rebel forces, who have now held the city for nearly a month. Since the conflict broke out, the armed group has committed severe human rights violations and “government security forces have responded with similar tactics”, denounces Amnesty’s report.

Four of the videos analysed by Amnesty capture the torture of several prisoners, who are verbally attacked, kicked and heavily beaten by a group of soldiers. The fifth video reveals possible extrajudicial executions, showing a mass grave where soldiers went “from body to body, sawing with a long knife to slit the throats of live victims or attempt to behead the corpses”. Urging national authorities to respect their international commitments, Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East and Southern Africa, declared: “The unspeakable cruelty and inhumanity displayed in these videos has no place in any society of order, rule of law and human rights. The Mozambique government has an obligation to immediately launch an independent and impartial investigation to bring those responsible to justice.”


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Author: Ester Zangrandi

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