Mozambique

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.

Freedom of Expression: There were no official restrictions on the ability of individuals to criticize the government or 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 members complained they could not freely criticize the government without fear of reprisal, particularly since the 2015 killing of prominent jurist Gilles Cistac remained unsolved. In July a group of civil society organizations created to monitor the government’s handling of a debt crisis, the Budget Monitoring Group, reported that government security agents infiltrated one of their events and attempted to disrupt it. Prior to the incident, a residential guard working for a member of this group was stabbed, which group members stated was intended to threaten and intimidate them.

Press and Media Freedom: The government exerted substantial pressure on all forms of media. The NGO Sekhelekani reported that media outlets and journalists frequently self-censored to avoid government retaliation.

Violence and Harassment: Unlike in 2016, there were no reports of journalists being subjected to violence, harassment, or intimidation. The unsolved abduction and shooting of independent journalist Jose Jaime Macuane in 2016, however, continued to cause concern.

Censorship or Content Restrictions: There were no official government guidelines for media. Journalists in the state-controlled and private media reported pressure to self-censor. Some journalists 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. Sekhelekani 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. Some state media journalists reported that government restraints on editorial and journalistic independence decreased during the year.

INTERNET FREEDOM

The government did not restrict access to the internet or censor online content. Members of civil society reported government intelligence agents monitored email 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 continued to express interest in discovering the identity of “Unay Cambuma,” a pro-Renamo person or group that posted criticism of the government on Facebook that appeared to reflect intimate knowledge of government operations.

According to the International Telecommunication Union, 17.5 percent of persons in the country used the internet in 2016.

ACADEMIC FREEDOM AND CULTURAL EVENTS

There were no government restrictions on academic freedom or cultural events; however, certain academics reported self-censorship. Although the law provides for separation of party and state, primary school teachers in Gaza Province included Frelimo party propaganda in their curriculum, reportedly on their own initiative.

The constitution and law provide for freedom of peaceful assembly and association; however, the government did not always respect this right. The constitution and law provide for freedom of association, and the government generally respected this right.

FREEDOM OF PEACEFUL ASSEMBLY

By law protest organizers do not require government “authorization” to protest peacefully; however, they 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 1, police tried to prevent a group from opposition party Democratic Movement of Mozambique (MDM) from participating in a peaceful march organized by the trade union Organization of Mozambican Workers (OTM), claiming only trade union members could participate. Authorities later allowed MDM members to participate in the march after OTM representatives confirmed they had been invited to join in the march.

FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION

The Ministry of Justice, Constitutional, and Religious Affairs did not act on the request for registration of The Mozambican Association for the Defense of Sexual Minorities (LAMBDA)–the country’s only lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) advocacy NGO–by year’s end. Although the registration process usually takes less than two months, LAMBA’s request had been pending since 2008 despite resubmissions of its application. Civil society leaders and some diplomatic missions continued to urge the ministry to act on LAMBDA’s application and to treat all registration applications fairly. Ministry and other government officials cited the country’s culture and religious sentiments as reasons for government inaction.

See the Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report at www.state.gov/religiousfreedomreport/.

The constitution and law provide for freedom of internal movement, foreign travel, emigration, and repatriation, and the government generally respected these rights. The government cooperated with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other humanitarian organizations in providing protection and assistance to internally displaced persons (IDPs), refugees, returning refugees, asylum seekers, stateless persons, or other persons of concern.

INTERNALLY DISPLACED PERSONS (IDPS)

In January, IDPs who fled the 2016 military confrontations in the central region began returning home. Unlike in 2016, there were no credible reports additional of displacements during the year.

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.

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U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future