Human rights violations due to armed conflicts in centre and north of Mozambique

Photo: O País

Bar Association warns Armed conflicts in Mozambique have created “opportunities” for the violation of human rights, leaving populations in the areas affected by violence vulnerable, says the Human Rights Report of the Mozambican Bar Association (OAM) released in Maputo on Thursday.

“In the central and northern regions, the situation has worsened, due to the occurrence of armed conflicts that have caused the displacement of populations and created opportunities for the violation of human rights,” reads the conclusion of the report, which covers the 2020-2021 period.

Regarding the war in Cabo Delgado province, where government forces are fighting insurgents associated with terrorism, the assessment notes that “concerns persist about the violation of human rights with regard to the involvement of defence and security authorities”.

It acknowledges, however, that the involvement of the joint forces of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and Rwanda in combating armed groups in Cabo Delgado has resulted in improvement to the security situation.

Noting that attacks on human dignity have been systemic in the country, the assessment also points, among other events that have led to abuses, to the restrictions imposed by Covid-19 and natural disasters

Covid-19 was used by the authorities to disproportionately limit rights and commit infringements, the text indicates.

The pandemic also brought to the surface the exclusion of a part of the population from health services and from the right to education, due to the lack of technological means to monitor distance learning, the document says.

Between 2021 and 2022, it continues, summary executions carried out by law and order agents and the involvement of investigators from the National Criminal Investigation Service (Sernic) with kidnapping gangs were reported.

In addition, reports of persecution of journalists created an environment of “hostility” to the exercise of freedom of the press and expression, the Bar Association notes.

The report also regrets the fact that society has been excluded from the debate on the decentralisation process, through the monopoly of discussion on the topic by the country’s main political parties.

The lawyers’ analysis of the human rights scenario in Mozambique also refers to the violation of the rights of communities in the areas where the extractive industry is located, identifying problems related to the resettlement of populations and lack of transparency in the granting of mining activity licences, as well as in the management of the revenues collected in these operations.

On the positive side, the geographic expansion of the country’s judicial network is mentioned, through the construction of more courts and activation of legal assistance services, as well as the approval of more laws protecting human rights.

Speaking to journalists on the sidelines of the report’s presentation, Bar Association chairman Duarte Casimiro said that the human rights framework in Mozambique points to advances and setbacks.

“We are moving forward, but with difficulty. There are indeed some gains, but there are also setbacks. Let’s admit that we are improving, but [still] with many difficulties,” he emphasised.

In the centre of the country, military instability was led by armed actions by a dissident faction of the armed wing of the Mozambican National Resistance (Renamo), the main opposition party, which lost strength after its leader, Mariano Nhongo, was killed.

Cabo Delgado province, in northern Mozambique, is rich in natural gas, but has been terrorized since 2017 by armed rebels, with some attacks claimed by the Islamic State extremist group.

According to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), about 784,000 persons have been internally displaced by the conflict, which has killed about 4,000, according to the ACLED conflict registry project.

Since July 2021, an offensive by government troops, with the support of Rwandan and later Southern African Development Community (SADC) troops, has recovered a number of areas from rebel control, but their flight has led to new attacks in districts through which they have passed or where they have taken up temporary refuge. Source: Lusa

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