The European Commission on Thursday said the recent Amnesty International report on human rights violations in northern Mozambique was “extremely shocking” and called for a transparent and effective investigation, including into allegations involving members of the security forces.
During a debate on the situation in northern Mozambique at the plenary session of the European Parliament in Brussels, the European Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, who represented the community executive, began her speech by acknowledging that northern Mozambique faces a new threat, an outbreak of armed violence, with a dangerous regional dimension.
“I would like to begin by reiterating our solidarity with the people of Mozambique. We have a strong relationship with Mozambique and are ready to discuss options for assistance. I am also pleased to inform you that the government and the EU have opened a political dialogue focused on humanitarian developments and security issues in Cabo Delgado,” she said.
The European Commissioner then recalled that in the April Council conclusions, the EU stressed that regardless of urgency, any response to violence in the north must ensure full respect for human rights, to then refer to the AI report, which on 9 September denounced suspicions of torture and other human rights violations committed by Mozambican security forces in Cabo Delgado, in the north of the country.
“The recent Amnesty International report is extremely shocking. All allegations, including those involving members of the Armed Defence Forces and police, must be investigated transparently and effectively, with full respect for the legal rights of both the victims and the accused,” she said.
She added that the EU advocates an integrated and coordinated approach that promotes democracy, human rights and the rule of law in the country, without forgetting freedom of the press and civil society.
According to the AI report, there is documentary evidence – videos and photos – that shows attempts at beheading, torture and other ill-treatment of detainees, the dismemberment of alleged opposition fighters, possible extrajudicial executions and the transportation of large numbers of corpses to mass graves.
Earlier this week, Amnesty International asked the Mozambican authorities for an independent and impartial investigation into the extrajudicial execution of a naked and defenceless woman in Mocímboa da Praia, after a “horrendous video” was posted on social media.
Mozambique’s minister of defence denied on Wednesday that the alleged military personnel who appear to shoot a woman to death are from the country’s armed forces and refuted accusations of abuses in the fight against armed groups in the north of the country.
Meanwhile, also on Wednesday, the EU Ambassador in Mozambique, António Sánchez-Benedito Gaspar, announced at the end of a meeting in Maputo dedicated to the role of Mozambique’s Integrated Development Agency (ADIN) that the European Union wants to define an enhanced support strategy for Cabo Delgado by the end of the year.
Cabo Delgado has been the target of attacks for three years by armed groups, some claimed by the ‘jihadist’ Islamic state, but whose origin remains under debate, causing a humanitarian crisis with more than 1,000 deaths and 250,000 internally displaced persons.