Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
The constitution and law provide for freedom of speech and press, and the government generally respected this right; however, the government did not always effectively protect nor respect these freedoms. Academics, journalists, opposition party officials, and civil society reported an atmosphere of intimidation and fear that continued to restrict freedom of speech and press. Allegations included the use of threatening messages via text and Facebook, physical confrontations, and widely circulated “WhatsApp” messages targeting anyone critical of the government. The abduction and shooting of independent journalist Jose Jaime Macuane (see Violence and Harassment) caused particular concern.
Freedom of Speech and Expression: There were no official restrictions on the ability of individuals to criticize the government or restriction on the discussion of matters of general public interest; however, police imposed de facto restrictions on free speech and expression throughout the year. Opposition and civil society complained they could not freely criticize the government without fear of reprisal, particularly since the March 2015 murder of prominent jurist Gilles Cistac remained unsolved. Multiple civil society figures, including LDH President Mabota, received anonymous threatening text messages after criticizing the government. One academic said the local head of Frelimo visited his mother and threatened her. At least one academic temporarily left the country after receiving such messages.
On March 18, PRM officials arrested Eva Anadon Moreno, a Spanish citizen who worked with various women’s empowerment groups and had lived in the country for six years, for her part in a “street action” organized by women’s rights umbrella group Forum Mulher (Women’s Forum). The protest was intended to draw attention to gender-based violence in schools across the country. The PRM released Anadon several hours after her arrest. Immigration officials later visited her at her apartment the night of March 29 and asked her to accompany them to their headquarters. Instead, they took her to Maputo’s international airport where they detained her overnight. Immigration officials deported Anadon on a commercial flight to South Africa the following day. She did not receive a hearing or a chance to appeal her deportation.
Press and Media Freedoms: The government exerted substantial pressure on all forms of media. The NGO Selekani reported that media outlets and journalists frequently self-censored to avoid government retaliation. In May, Isaque Chande, the minister of justice, constitutional, and religious affairs, threatened to trigger “accountability mechanisms” against the Portuguese news agency Lusa for publishing local residents’ allegations of a mass grave containing 120 bodies in Sofala Province. The government denied the existence of any mass graves, and security forces kept journalists away from the alleged location.
Violence and Harassment: In May unidentified gunmen posing as police officers abducted journalist Jose Jaime Macuane outside his home in Maputo and drove him to a rural area in Maputo Province. They told him they had orders to cripple him and shot him four times in the legs. Macuane was a cohost of the political talk show Pontos de vista (“Points of View”) on STV, an independent television station. Local media speculated that he was targeted for criticizing the government. In response to the shooting, Tomas Viera Mario, chair of the country’s Higher Mass Media Council, said journalists were “facing a serious assault against human rights.” The government did not criticize the shooting.
In June, PIC officers questioned Joao Chamusse and Egidio Placido, manager and editor in chief, respectively, of the print weekly newspaper Zambeze, for several hours regarding their sources after they published an article. The article claimed that Renamo fighters killed an unknown number of Zimbabwean soldiers who were on a combat mission in the central part of the country.
Censorship or Content Restrictions: There were no official government guidelines for media. Media officials reported the government’s Information Office convened regular editorial board meetings to coordinate and direct news content released by state-controlled media. Some journalists reported pressure to self-censor. Some media officials stated critical reporting could result in cancellation of government and ruling party advertising contracts. The largest advertising revenue streams for local media came from ministries and state-controlled businesses. Selekani noted the government asserted its control over state-owned media by giving media outlets their annual budgets in small increments, with the amounts determined by how faithfully articles hewed to official positions.
The government did not restrict access to the internet or censor online content. Members of civil society reported government intelligence agents monitored e-mail and used false names to infiltrate social network discussion groups. Local internet freedom advocates believed the intelligence service monitored online content critical of the government. Government officials expressed interest in discovering the identity of “Unay Cambuma,” a pro-Renamo person or group that published Facebook posts critical of the government and that appeared to have intimate knowledge of government operations.
According to the World Bank, 6 percent of persons in the country used the internet during the year.
ACADEMIC FREEDOM AND CULTURAL EVENTS
There were no government restrictions on academic freedom or cultural events; however, certain academics reported self-censorship. Despite the law providing for separation of party and state, primary school teachers in Gaza Province reportedly included Frelimo party propaganda in their curriculum.
FREEDOM OF ASSEMBLY
The constitution and law provide for freedom of assembly; nevertheless, the government did not always respect this right. By law protest organizers do not require government “authorization” to peacefully protest; however, protest organizers must notify local authorities of their intent in writing at least four business days beforehand. The government used alleged errors in protest organizers’ notification documents to disallow protests. For example, on May 14, organizations sent Maputo Mayor David Simango a letter to notify their intent to organize a march against recently revealed (109 billion meticais) $1.5 billion in “hidden” sovereign guarantees for loans to state-owned enterprises contracted by the previous administration. Simango replied that the march could not take place as planned since he could not determine if the letter’s signatories represented the organizations they claimed to. Unknown assailants abducted and beat Joao Massango, protest spokesperson and president of the Earth Ecologists Movement Party, shortly after the Mayor’s Office received the notification.
FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION
The constitution and law provide for freedom of association, and the government generally respected this right. The Ministry of Justice, Constitutional, and Religious Affairs did not act on LAMBDA’s (the country’s only LGBTI advocacy NGO) registration request, which was pending since 2008. The registration process usually takes less than two months. Civil society leaders and some diplomatic missions continued to urge Justice Minister Chande to act on LAMBDA’s application and to treat all registration applications fairly. Minister Chande and other government officials cited the country’s culture and religious sentiments as reasons the ministry had not acted.
See the Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report at www.state.gov/religiousfreedomreport/.
d. Freedom of Movement, Internally Displaced Persons, Protection of Refugees, and Stateless Persons
The constitution and law provide for freedom of internal movement, foreign travel, emigration, and repatriation, and the government generally respected these rights.
Abuse of Migrants, Refugees, and Stateless Persons: The government generally cooperated with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other humanitarian organizations in providing protection and assistance to refugees, asylum seekers, stateless persons, and other persons of concern. There were exceptions: for example, in April local authorities arbitrarily arrested and detained a Congolese refugee living at the Maratane refugee camp in Nampula. Officials accused him of involvement in the vandalism of a health center in September 2015 despite the fact he was nowhere near the health center at the time. Authorities eventually released him.
In-country Movement: In February the government introduced convoys with armed police escorts on three stretches of highway in Sofala and Manica to protect civilian vehicles from Renamo attacks. Renamo ambushes on civilian vehicles in Manica, Sofala, and Zambezia significantly diminished persons’ ability to move freely throughout the country. In March several bus companies in Nampula announced they were cancelling service to Maputo due to the attacks.
Refugees must formally request authorization to move outside the geographic region of their registration. The government usually authorized these requests, with the exception of requests to move to the city of Maputo.
INTERNALLY DISPLACED PERSONS
By law only persons in an official internally displaced persons (IDPs) camp are considered internally displaced. In August, Lusa reported that the National Institute for Disaster Management (INGC) recognized 2,372 IDPs and established camps for persons fleeing food insecurity due to drought in Manica. INGC Director for Prevention and Migration Ana Christina acknowledged that some of the IDPs in these camps fled the conflict between the government and Renamo. Additionally, Deutsche Welle reported in June that more than 500 families who fled the village of Pembe (Inhambane Province) in January 2014 due to fighting between government forces and Renamo remained internally displaced. The local government created a resettlement area approximately 16 miles away to house the families.
PROTECTION OF REFUGEES
Access to Asylum: The law provides for the granting of asylum or refugee status, and the government has established a system for providing protection to refugees. The government provided protection against the expulsion or return of refugees to countries where their lives or freedom would be threatened on account of their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.
Durable Solutions: The government continued to work closely with UNHCR to implement a local integration program for refugees at the Maratane Camp in Nampula Province. UNHCR referred a limited number of refugees for third country resettlement.