24 December 2013

Mozambique: Paulino Warns of "extremes" in Freedom of Expression

Maputo — Mozambique's Attorney-General, Augusto Paulino, on Monday condemned those citizens who go “to extremes” in exercising their freedom of expression.

Speaking at a ceremony where he swore into office new chief attorneys for Cabo Delgado, Zambezia, Tete, Sofala and Manica provinces, Paulino warned that the rights and freedoms of one citizen end where those of others begin.

“In freedom of expression there are citizens who exceed the normally tolerable limits for civilised people, in an atmosphere of social norms, civic attitudes and respect among equals, in a state of the democratic rule of law”, he said.

Paulino added that, when citizens go beyond what is permitted under the law, criminal proceedings should be initiated against them, not in order to punish, but to educate them.

Paulino gave no examples, but earlier this month the editors of two papers, the independent newsheet “Mediafax” and the weekly “Canal de Mocambique”, were summoned to appear before the Maputo City attorney's office. They were asked about the publication of an open letter to President Armando Guebuza by prominent academic Carlos Nuno Castel-Branco.

Allegations have been made that the letter insults the President, though Castel-Branco denied that this was his intention. The letter was republished from Castel-Branco's Facebook page.

Nobody, however, has been summoned to appear before prosecutors to answer for undeniably insulting articles that have appeared in recent weeks in the Sunday paper “Domingo”. These articles have appeared mostly under pseudonyms, and have attacked prominent figures in the Mozambican liberation struggle who happen to be of mixed race or of Asian origin, such as Marcelino dos Santos, Jorge Rebelo, Sergio Vieira and Oscar Monteiro, who all served as ministers in the governments of the country's first President, Samora Machel.

Paulino also recognised that the slowness of Mozambican legal procedures is a matter of concern for citizens. “You have the noble opportunity to reverse this scenario”, he told the new chief attorneys. “We expect that each of you and your collectives will be able to say: it was not my fault that this case did not advance quickly”.

He told them that they must know how to listen to and respect, with humility, criticism from citizens, even when the criticisms seem baseless.

Copyright © 2013 Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.