Prison conditions remained harsh and potentially life-threatening in most areas due to gross overcrowding, inadequate sanitary conditions, and limited medical care.
Physical Conditions: Government officials and civil society organizations continued to highlight overcrowding, juvenile prisoners in adult facilities, and convicted and untried prisoners sharing cells as serious problems. In a March 2016 speech given at the opening of the judicial year, President of the Supreme Court Adelino Muchanga acknowledged that, “excessive and abusive application of preventive detention rule, imposition of prison sentences for minor offenses that would otherwise be punished with fines and other nonprison sentences and backlog of cases were contributing to increased prison overcrowding.”
The Inhambane prison held 400 prisoners, five times its actual capacity. As of August the Maputo Provincial Penitentiary (EPPM) was at approximately three times its capacity. While the prisoners were allowed to stay outside their cells from 6:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., overcrowding and security considerations required them to eat lunch and dinner in their cells. Prison officials reported that juvenile inmates only spent their preventive detention period with adult prisoners at EPPM and were subsequently transferred, upon conviction, to the Marconi prison for juvenile inmates. There were inmates with disabilities, and although prison officials did not specify their number, they confirmed that inmates with disabilities shared cells with other prisoners.
The 2017 annual report to parliament of the Attorney General’s Office (PGR) noted an acute shortage of prison facilities at the district level, resulting in human rights violations of those detained.
The National Prisons Directorate (SERNAP) reported there were 27 deaths in all prisons during the first six months of the year. The report indicated that malaria, HIV/AIDS, and diarrhea were the primary causes of death. In 2016 SERNAP stated that its statistics showed an estimated 20 percent of the approximately 15,000-prisoner population was HIV-positive, compared with an estimated 13 percent of the total sexually active population.
The Ndlavela Women’s Prison facility, located on the outskirts of Maputo, held 150 inmates in a prison with a capacity of 300.
Few prisons had health-care facilities or the ability to transport prisoners to outside facilities. Almost all prisons dated from the colonial era before 1975, leaving many in an advanced state of dilapidation. In October 2016 Ombudsman Jose Abudo conducted prison visits and noted the poor hygiene conditions in many prisons, including insufficient ventilation, water leaks, poor hygiene, and inadequate medical treatment.
Administration: There were no credible allegations of mistreatment. Although no formal system specific to prisons existed for receiving or tracking complaints, prisoners were free to contact the PGR, national ombudsman, or nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) with complaints.
Independent Monitoring: International and domestic human rights groups had access to prisoners at the discretion of the Ministry of Justice, Constitutional, and Religious Affairs and the Ministry of the Interior, and permission to visit prisoners was generally granted. The Mozambican Human Rights League and the National Commission on Human Rights (CNDH) had a high degree of access to prisons run by the Ministry of Justice, Constitutional, and Religious Affairs. NGOs continued to have difficulty but were generally successful in gaining access to detention facilities run by the Ministry of the Interior, particularly its detention facilities in police stations.
Improvements: The PGR increased prison capacity during the year, including the opening of prison facilities in Muecate (Nampula Province), Milange and Alto Molocue (Zambezia Province), Cahora Bassa (Tete Province), Gorongosa (Sofala Province), Chibuto (Gaza Province), and Funhaloro (Inhambane Province). The PGR reported some progress in training of prison guards on prevention of violence in prison facilities, inmates’ access to information regarding the status of their sentences, and vocational training.