Mozambique: Right to Information Violated During Elections

Maputo — Mozambique's National Human Rights Council (CNDH) on Thursday denounced violationS of the right to information during the municipal elections held on 10 October, and the campaign leading up to them.

CNDH chairperson Luis Bitoni said restrictions had been placed on the work of the media, particularly independent media, journalists had been threatened and there was an excessive use of force by the police.

Bitoni was speaking at a meeting in Maputo held by the National Forum of Community Radios (FORCOM) on the theme "Challenges in the Coverage of Elections in Mozambique".

"Access to information was limited in the latest elections", he said. "The community radios were limited in doing their job of informing with impartiality. Journalists were intimidated, and their working instruments were seized during the voting and the count".

Bitoni added that the CNDH is concerned at the passivity of the organs of the administration of justice when faced with accusations of human rights violations such as those that occurred during the municipal elections.

"We are worried that the relevant institutions do not hold responsible those who carried out the illicit acts which marred the elections", he said.

Bitoni hoped that the reflection undertaken by FORCOM will bring specific proposals to improve the regime for access to information in Mozambique, particularly during the presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for next year.

The Deputy Chairperson of FORCOM, Olivio Catela, confirmed there had been constraints on access to information during the elections. Journalists on some community radios found their work blocked by the very bodies which ought to have guaranteed that they could operate in a healthy environment.

"We had journalists intimidated by political parties and by the defence and security forces", he said. "These events took place at the community radios in Catandica, Nacala, Angoche, Quelimane and Nampula".

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