Mozambican journalist arrested, held in military base

Mozambican journalist arrested, held in military base

By Arnaldo Cuamba

Mozambican journalist Amade Abubar arrested by the Mozambican Defense and Security Forces is detained at a military base in the Mueda district in the northern province of Cabo Delgado, where he was transferred after being captured in the district of Macomia, which is 200 km .

His detention, considered by Amnesty International as illegal, took place on 5 January, when Abubacar photographed and interviewed refugees from extremist attacks that since October 2017 have terrorized several districts of the province. He is a reporter for the state-owned Radio and Television Community Nacedje of Macomia and correspondent for the Zitamar News.

According to an SMS message sent by Abubacar on a borrowed mobile phone and seen by Pan African Visions, Abubacar claims he was “brutally kicked” by police before being handed over to the military Barracks.

From there to today there is no information about Abubacar. The police avoid talking about the conditions in which the journalist finds himself. They also don’t tell the press the causes of the arrest. The journalist’s father has also tried to get in touch with his son, but the police does not accept it.

Amade Abubacar’s continued detention violates Mozambique’s own laws and constitution as well as its international and regional obligations, the American Bar Association has said, in a letter to Mozambique’s Minister of Justice.

As much as Amade had committed some crime, he, being a civilian, should be in a police chain and not in a military prison that is for military officers who committed crimes, Mozambican chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa, MISA, said in statement on Monday, 14.

“Mozambican authorities should immediately free Amade Abubacar without charge and stop censoring coverage of the insurgency by detaining journalists and accusing them of colluding with militants,” said Angela Quintal, CPJ’s Africa program coordinator. “With Mozambique set for crucial elections in October, Cabo Delgado can not be a no-go area for the media. Citizens have a right to independent and diverse sources of information about what is happening in their country.”

This is the second arbitrary arrest of journalists in less than a month in the province of Cabo Delgado. In December 2018 another journalist, Estacio Valoi, was arrested in the same area when he was carrying out his journalistic work. He was later released without charge; but his equipment is still being held by the army.

In June of the same year, another journalist working for a South African television news station, eNCA, was detained while working in the area.

The public opinion consider that the Mozambican government does not want the situation of extremist attacks to be reported, as the Defense and Security Forces have been dominated by the unknown armed group that in 16 months has already murdered more than 300 people and burned more of a thousand houses.

Recent attacks indicate that 15 people were killed when a passenger transport truck was attacked on its way from Palma to Olumbi at around midday sunday, 13. On Thursday night, three people were killed in an attack in the village of Manilha, Mocímboa da Praia district; another was seriously injured, and houses were burned. Also on Thursday, an attack at Nailwa saw insurgents chop up a man into five pieces – and call on locals to join them in a “liberated zone”.

Sources in Cabo Delgado say attacks are now a daily occurrence, with most going unreported. The move to attacking vehicles on the road is a concerning development.

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