Maputo — The secret transfer between prisons of 18 Mozambican election monitors who have spent a month in detention has raised serious concerns for their safety.
They were arrested while monitoring the disputed October 15 elections and have been denied access to lawyers and cut off from their families.
Without informing detainees' lawyers or family members, authorities have moved them from a prison in Guijá district to Xai-Xai district, both in the southern Gaza Province.
"Their transfer to a prison 154 kilometres away is an alarming development and appears to be a deliberate attempt by the authorities to obscure details of their whereabouts and treatment," said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International Southern Africa director.
The activist said moving the election monitors that far meant that they would be more isolated from their families and lawyers.
"We are urging the Mozambican authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all 18 election monitors," Muchena said.
The election monitors from the opposition party New Democracy were arrested on allegations of falsifying election monitoring credentials.
Amnesty International said the detainees were held in extremely overcrowded cells and forced to perform all their ablutions in the same cell.
Six of the detainees are students who have been missing their lectures and are likely to miss their final exams. Seven are parents.
Mozambique is emerging from contentious polls that retained President Filipe Nyusi and the ruling Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (FRELIMO).
The main opposition, Mozambique National Resistance (RENAMO), has snubbed the outcome.