24 April 2019

Mozambique: Charges Against Journalists Should Be Dropped

Photo: Gado/CPJ
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Maputo — The Mozambican chapter of the regional press freedom body MISA (Media Institute of Southern Africa) has called for the charges against two journalists, arrested in connection with the islamist insurgency in the northern province of Cabo Delgado, to be dropped.

Amade Abubacar and Germano Adriano, who both work on the Macomia district community radio and television station, were released from preventive detention on Tuesday, but still face charges of "spreading messages that discredit members of the armed forces". The Cabo Delgado provincial attorney's office seems to have dropped more serious security charges.

The chairperson of MISA-Mozambique, Fernando Goncalves, interviewed by "DW Africa", said the two journalists have no case to answer, and if the case does make it to court, he expects them to be acquitted.

The two were released against a statement of identity and residence. While this is certainly better than being freed on bail, since it allows the journalists to await trial at home without paying anything, Goncalves believed it would have been far better if the judge had simply declared the entire case against Abubacar and Adriano null and void.

Asked whether there had been some "misunderstanding", Goncalves replied "it was a serious mistake by our defence and security forces. They arrested them, they charged them, then they investigated. They did everything backwards".

There was nothing to justify holding a trial, he added. The detention of the two journalists had been "a grave injustice", and they should be compensated for all that they had suffered. Abubacar, in particular, had been illegally detained in a military barracks where he had been beaten and denied food.

Asked if he thought journalists were being persecuted in Mozambique, Goncalves said "the only thing that can explain this is that there is something that somebody does not want to become public knowledge, and journalists have the task of informing the public about what is happening in the country. So somebody is interested in stopping this from happening".

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