Mozambique/Holy See: Open letter to Pope Francis ahead of his visit to Mozambique

September 4, 2019

Pope Francis waves as he arrives to lead his Wednesday general audience in Saint Peter's square at the Vatican, March 15, 2017.

We, the undersigned, are writing as a group of non-governmental organisations working to promote and defend human rights in many countries around the world, including Mozambique. Ahead of your visit to Mozambique scheduled to take place between 4 and 6 September 2019, we would like to bring to your attention a number of human rights issues of concern and to urge you to use your visit as an opportunity to publicly support our call for the protection and promotion of human rights particularly as the country prepares to hold its 6th general elections in October 2019, since the end of the civil war in 1992.

We are gravely concerned by the increasing intimidation and harassment of human rights defenders, activists, civil society organisations and media, the deterioration of the human rights situation in Cabo Delgado, the lack of accountability, justice and effective remedies for victims of human rights violations and abuses as well as violations of the rights of refugees and asylum seekers.

Crackdown on freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, and media freedom

In the past year, there has been an increasing crackdown on dissent particularly the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association, freedom of expression, and media freedom by the Mozambican government. Freedom of movement of Human Rights Defenders (HRD’s), political actors, journalists and civil society groups has also come under increasing attack.

On 27 March 2018, unknown gunmen abducted human rights lawyer Ericino de Salema outside the offices of the Mozambican Union of Journalists in Maputo. The men then beat and abandoned him on the Maputo Ring Road. As a result of the assault, Mr. Salema suffered serious fractures to his arms and legs. At the time of the attack, Mr. Salema was   the resident political commentator on the television show, STV’s Pontos de Vista, on which he has often taken positions critical of the government’s policies. It is feared that the attack was likely in retaliation for his critical views in the course of his professional duties.

https://www.hrw.org/news/2019/09/04/open-letter-pope-francis-ahead-his-visit-mozambique

https://www.iol.co.za/news/africa/mozambican-authorities-urged-to-probe-abduction-of-ericino-de-salema-14145718

SERNIC says investigation into abduction of Ericino de Salema “is not forgotten”

https://www.dw.com/pt-002/mo%C3%A7ambique-jornalista-ericino-de-salema-raptado-e-encontrado-gravemente-ferido/a-43156583 (PORTUGUES)

https://www.voaafrique.com/a/le-parlement-du-mozambique-donne-son-feu-vert-a-l-arrestation-d-un-ex-ministre-/4764201.html (FRANCAIS)

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