By Mabvuto Banda
Journalists, priests and civil society leaders in neighbouring Mozambique are facing death threats and intimidation following local government elections at the weekend, Amnesty International has said
The organization knows of at least eight individuals who have been targeted with anonymous phone calls and text messages accusing them of contributing to the defeat of the ruling Mozambique Liberation Front (FRELIMO) in Nacala-Porto and Nampula cities in the northern province of Nampula.
“This is a post-election witch-hunt targeting anyone who expresses critical views of the government and is suspected of associating with the main opposition, RENAMO, in Nampula,” said Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for Southern Africa.
Those behind the threatening calls and text messages have told the victims to “be careful” and that “their days are numbered”. They were also warned that they “would disappear without a trace”.
“The Mozambique authorities must launch a prompt, thorough and effective investigation into the allegations of death threats and intimidation and bring suspected perpetrators to justice. Beyond that, the authorities must ensure that the rights to life, freedom of association and expression are fully respected and protected ahead of the country’s general election in 2019 and beyond.”
Victims were blamed for monitoring polling stations and publishing live election results direct from those stations, allegedly causing FRELIMO’s defeat.
One of the individuals targeted with threats has since gone into hiding, fearing for his life.
“These disturbing messages appear to be intended as a warning to these journalists and civil society leaders, who are being targeted simply for exercising their human rights,” said Muleya Mwananyanda.
Journalists, priests and civil society leaders in Nampula province started receiving death threats and intimidating telephone calls and text messages on 11 October, following the nationwide local government elections that took place on 10 October.