Maputo — The chairperson of the Mozambican Bar Association (OAM), Duarte Casimiro, on Monday accused the country's judiciary of harassing lawyers.
Speaking at a ceremony to mark Mozambican Lawyers' Day, Casimiro said recently lawyers have suffered intimidation from judges and have been prevented from doing their job properly.
The problem was particularly acute in the central city of Beira where some lawyers had exercised their right to complain about judges' behaviour to the Higher Council of the Judicial Magistracy, the regulatory body for judges. Those judges had reacted by initiating criminal proceedings against the lawyers who dared criticise them.
Casimiro said the OAM is now working closely with the Supreme Court to find an acceptable platform that will end the tense atmosphere between lawyers and judges. He added that the OAM has set up a commission to defend and strengthen the prerogatives of lawyers. This body would act to defend layers in any part of the country where they are under threat.
Casimiro stressed that lawyers cannot remain indifferent to clear signs that the country is going backwards in terms of the guarantees of fundamental rights and freedoms. Violence by the police force, he added, has ceased to be occasional and is becoming a "structural and consolidated" phenomenon.
"Brutal attacks against press freedom and the exercise of journalism, such as the attacks against journalists in Cabo Delgado and the arson against the offices of the weekly paper 'Canal de Mocambique', crimes which have not yet been solved, are worsening a cycle of violations", he declared.
He also urged the courts to adapt to the realities of the 21st century and use the new information and communication technologies (ICTs) to speed up their antiquated procedures. Increased use of ICTs would also reduce the risk of exposure to the Covid-19 respiratory disease.
Casimiro was speaking after the Maputo City Court was obliged to close its doors temporarily because one court employee tested positive for Covid-19. All the cases under consideration in the various sections of the court ground to a halt.