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Executive Summary

Mozambique is a multiparty parliamentary democracy with a freely elected republican form of government. In 2019 voters re-elected as president Filipe Jacinto Nyusi of the ruling Front for the Liberation of Mozambique party with 73 percent of the vote in an election with many irregularities reported by observers. Several incidents of serious violence and intimidation occurred during the pre-election period; national and international observers considered voting generally orderly but expressed concerns regarding election irregularities.

The National Police, the National Criminal Investigation Service, and the Rapid Intervention Unit are responsible for law enforcement and internal security. They report to the Ministry of the Interior. The Border Security Force, responsible for protecting the country’s international borders and for carrying out police duties within 24 miles of borders, also reports to the Ministry of the Interior. The National Penitentiary Service has financial and administrative autonomy but receives policy oversight from the Ministry of Justice. The State Intelligence and Security Service reports directly to the president and is responsible for intelligence operations. The Presidential Guard provides security for the president, and the Force for the Protection of High-level Individuals provides security for senior-level officials at the national and provincial levels. The Armed Defense Forces of Mozambique, consisting of the air force, army, and navy, are responsible for external security, cooperate with police on internal security, and have natural disaster and emergency response functions. The president is commander in chief of all these forces. Civilian authorities at times did not maintain control over security forces. Members of the security forces committed some abuses.

Significant human rights issues included credible allegations of: unlawful or arbitrary killings, including extrajudicial killings; forced disappearance by government security forces; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary arrest or detention; serious abuses in an internal conflict; serious restrictions on free expression and media, including violence, threats of violence, or unjustified arrests or prosecutions against journalists; widespread acts of official corruption; and lack of investigation of and accountability for gender-based violence.

The government took steps to investigate, prosecute, and punish some officials who committed human rights abuses and engaged in corrupt practices; however, impunity and corruption remained a problem at all levels.

During the year violent attacks against government forces and civilian populations perpetrated by ISIS-Mozambique that began in 2017 continued in the northeastern districts of Cabo Delgado Province. In March a massive ISIS-Mozambique attack on the town of Palma significantly increased the number of IDPs, which rose to approximately 800,000 by year’s end. Beginning in July joint offensive operations with Rwandan forces, and separately with the Southern African Development Community forces, significantly decreased ISIS-Mozambique’s activities, and government forces reclaimed some territory seized by ISIS; however, ISIS-Mozambique continued conducting small-scale attacks against military and civilian targets. The government began the process of reconstruction and humanitarian assistance to its displaced residents in reclaimed areas. Human rights organizations and the government stated violent extremists committed human rights abuses against civilians that included beheadings, kidnappings, and the use of child soldiers. Abductions and forced displacement of civilians by extremists continued, and at times, entire communities were destroyed by fire. Security force responses to this violence were sometimes heavy handed, including arbitrary arrest and detention and alleged extrajudicial killings of both suspected violent extremists and civilians. Government forces detained individuals accused of being ISIS-Mozambique fighters. There were no reports authorities investigated or prosecuted abuses.

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U.S. Department of State

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