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Human Rights Watch condemns government and Renamo impunity for 2016 violence


The international human rights organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) has denounced a lack of accountability for attacks against hundreds of citizens during the conflict involving the government and Renamo between November 2015 and December 2016.

The report, presented on Friday in Maputo, focuses on the abuses committed in the provinces of Manica, Sofala, Tete, and Zambézia prior to the December 2016 cease fire.

Government security forces are accused in the report of carrying out enforced disappearances, arbitrary detention, torture and other ill-treatment in custody, as well as destroying property.

HRW’s researchers were prevented by security forces from visiting the site of an alleged mass grave, which reports at the time indicated contained 120 bodies – something the government denies.

As for Renamo, the 77-page document indicates that the party was involved in the abduction and murder of informants and political figures working with the government or the ruling Frelimo party, as well as the looting of at least five health centers, the report said.

However, despite being made aware of specific allegations of deadly misconduct by Renamo insurgents and state security forces, the report states that the Government has failed to fulfill its obligation under international human rights law to properly investigate the alleged abuses.

Speaking to Zitamar News on Friday, HRW’s Iain Levine, who was responsible for the publication of the document, said he was disappointed with the government’s stance and fears government inaction creates a permissive environment for further abuses.

“It seems from a distance that the government is not interested in its people,” Levine said, adding that the lack of accountability for individuals who committed abuses makes it clear that there is an “environment of impunity” in Mozambique, that could lead to the “emergence of more cases of this type,” he added.

The report is based on more than 70 interviews with victims of abuse and family members, as well as with police officers, soldiers, politicians, activists, and journalists, and includes an appendix with all the questions HRW submitted to both the government and Renamo.

Victims and witnesses of the abuses told HRW that they were never contacted by the authorities, nor were they informed of any government investigation. Moreover, President Nyusi’s office did not respond to HRW’s questions about the status of any government inquiries into the allegations, HRW said.

“We realized during the work that there is still no trust between the parties and therefore they exchange accusations,” he said. “There is a need to conduct an impartial investigation to find out who committed what,” Levine said.

Zitamar News understands that an investigation carried out by the National Human Rights Commission (Comissao Nacional de Direitos Humanos, CNDH) came to broadly the same conclusions as the HRW study. However, the CNDH report was only submitted to the president and to parliament, in line with CNDH’s mandate.

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