Maputo — The Mozambican chapter of the regional press freedom body MISA (Media Institute of Southern Africa) has once again demanded the immediate release of journalist Amade Abubacar, who has been held illegally by the military since 5 January.
On that day, Abubacar, who works for the Nacedje community radio in Macomia district, in the northern province of Cabo Delgado, was photographing people fleeing from terrorist attacks in the interior of the district. He was grabbed, and driven 90 kilometres into Mueda district, where he has been incarcerated in a military barracks with no access to his family or to a lawyer.
In its latest release on this case, MISA stressed that it is illegal to detain civilians in military establishments. Furthermore, the detention of Abubacar "violates fundamental principles enshrined in the Mozambican Constitution, in the international conventions to which Mozambique is a signatory, and in the laws on freedom of expression and freedom of the press".
MISA noted that Abubacar was detained while working as a journalist "and there is no indication that he had committed any crime".
But, if there was any evidence of a crime, he should have been delivered to the police, who would then have turned the matter over to the Public Prosecutor's Office to lay formal charges. During this procedure, Abubacar would have had the right to a defence lawyer.
Instead he was thrown into a military barracks, without charge. MISA points out that Mozambican legislation stipulates that an accused person must be brought before a magistrate within 48 hours to validate the detention. But that deadline has been vastly exceeded in Abubacar's case.
MISA thus demands that Abubacar be released immediately "and that all his rights be restored in the light of the Mozambican constitution".