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Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance

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In the early years of the 21st Century, 2000 to 2025                            

Republic of Mozambique

Although due process rights are constitutionally guaranteed, these rights are not always respected in practice. RENAMO leaders assert that the police arrest members of their party arbitrarily. Due to resource constraints and an understaffed judiciary, lengthy pretrial detentions are common.

  [Freedom House Country Report, 2020]

Description: Description: Mozambique

CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Mozambique.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of Torture by Authorities are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring the moral justification for inflicting pain or inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment in order to obtain critical information that may save countless lives, or to elicit a confession for a criminal act, or to punish someone to teach him a lesson outside of the courtroom.  Perhaps your paper might focus on some of the methods of torture, like fear, extreme temperatures, starvation, thirst, sleep deprivation, suffocation, or immersion in freezing water.  On the other hand, you might choose to write about the people acting in an official capacity who perpetrate such cruelty.  There is a lot to the subject of Torture by Authorities.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.

*** ARCHIVES ***

2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Mozambique

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021

[accessed 29 July 2021]


The constitution and law prohibit such practices, but international and domestic human rights groups reported mistreatment of detainees, specifically those detained in Cabo Delgado Province as a result of counterterrorism operations. At least two videos surfaced that showed security forces physically abusing terrorist suspects. For example, in August a video appeared showing alleged government security force members caning three terrorist suspects; one suspect appeared to have been caned to death. In September the government stated it had opened an investigation into the matter. No additional information was available by year’s end.


Prison conditions remained harsh and potentially life threatening in most areas due to gross overcrowding, inadequate sanitary conditions, and limited medical care.

Physical Conditions: Government officials and civil society organizations cited as serious problems overcrowding, poor nutrition, poor hygiene and medical care, the inclusion of juvenile prisoners in adult facilities, and convicted and untried prisoners sharing cells. Almost all prisons dated from the pre-1975 colonial era, and many were in an advanced state of dilapidation.

Freedom House Country Report

2020 Edition

[accessed 15 May 2020]


Although due process rights are constitutionally guaranteed, these rights are not always respected in practice. RENAMO leaders assert that the police arrest members of their party arbitrarily. Due to resource constraints and an understaffed judiciary, lengthy pretrial detentions are common.

Policing and Human Rights -- Assessing southern African countries’ compliance with the SARPCCO Code of Conduct for Police Officials

Edited by Amanda Dissel & Cheryl Frank, African Policing Civilian Oversight Forum APCOF, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-920489-81-6

[accessed 25 March 2014]


No police official shall, under any circumstances, inflict, instigate, or tolerate any act of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of any person.

Despite some legal safeguards against the use of torture and ill-treatment, international and domestic observers note that there are numerous and credible reports of police torture, including torture and ill-treatment that caused the death of a few detainees, without appropriate accountability measures being taken against the police responsible.

There are concerns that responses by the criminal justice system to allegations of torture have been inadequate. During its UPR process, the government received a number of recommendations to ensure that thorough, prompt and impartial investigations are carried out in all cases of torture and other ill treatment, and that perpetrators are brought to justice.

Equally, there are concerns that torture victims seldom receive civil law remedies. According to civil society organisations, over the past ten years only two out of 50 cases of compensation for torture and other ill-treatment have resulted in compensation.

Mozambique: Violent police assume ‘licence to kill’

Amnesty International AI, 29 April 2008

[accessed 8 January 2019]

In a report published today, Amnesty International revealed the extent of police violence in Mozambique, saying that police are killing and torturing people with near total impunity. “Police in Mozambique seem to think they have a licence to kill and the weak police accountability system allows for this,” said Michelle Kagari, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Africa Programme. “In almost all cases of human rights violations by police – including unlawful killings – no investigation into the case and no disciplinary action against those responsible has been undertaken, nor has any police officer been prosecuted.”

On 14 August 2007, police grabbed Abrantes Afonso Penicela from his home and pushed him into a car. Abrantes said that the officers gave him a toxic injection and drove him to a secluded area where they beat him until he lost consciousness. The police then shot him in the back of the neck and set him on fire, leaving him for dead. Abrantes somehow survived the attack and managed to crawl to a nearby road where he was found and taken to hospital. He managed to tell his family and police what had happened to him, but died of his injuries later that night. No police officer has been arrested for his killing


From an old article -- URL not available

Article was published sometime prior to 2015


Scores of people, mainly elderly, were killed after being accused of witchcraft. The highest reported incidence of such killings occurred in the southern province of Inhambane where at least 20 elderly people were killed between August and September.


There were continued reports of torture and other ill-treatment of prisoners, including after attempted escapes.

On 24 September, two prisoners died from their injuries at the Quinta do Girassol detention centre in Zambezia province after being beaten by a prison guard with sticks, stones and bricks. The prisoners had apparently been recaptured while trying to escape.


For more articles:: Search Amnesty International’s website

[accessed 8 January 2019]

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Human Rights Reports » 2004 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, February 28, 2005

[accessed 6 February 2013]

[accessed 7 July 2019]

TORTURE AND OTHER CRUEL, INHUMAN, OR DEGRADING TREATMENT OR PUNISHMENT – The Constitution expressly prohibits such practices; however, police continued to commit serious abuses, and torture, beatings, death threats, physical and mental abuse, and extortion remained problems. During the year, human rights advocates reported complaints of torture, including several instances involving the sexual abuse of women, beating, illegal detention, and death threats.

Freedom House Country Report - Political Rights: 3   Civil Liberties: 3   Status: Partly Free

2009 Edition

[accessed 6 February 2013]

LONG URL   ç 2009 Country Reports begin on Page 21

[accessed 13 May 2020]

The judicial system has improved since the end of one-party rule in 1994, but judicial independence is still elusive. Corruption continues to be endemic in the judicial system, and the country faces a dire shortage of judges. Former justice minister, Esperanca Machavela, before being dismissed by Guebuza in March 2008, streamlined judicial operations that had previously been divided between the justice and interior ministries. She managed to reduce the backlog of cases, speeding up trial and sentencing procedures and significantly reducing the number of individuals held improperly in pretrial detention. An independent 2008 study conducted by the country’s preeminent human rights organization, the Mozambican Human Rights League, found that the number of suspects who remained in prison illegally past their preventive detention deadline (usually a maximum of 48 hours for most crimes) had dropped from 219 in 2007 to just 4 in 2008 in the south of the country. Improvements, though less dramatic, were also seen in the north and central regions where the numbers of suspects in illegal pretrial detention fell from 119 to 40 and from 61 to 15, respectively. The study also found that while the treatment of inmates had improved and there was no evidence of torture in prisons, living conditions are still abysmal and most cells are overcrowded.

Human rights abuses by security forces—including extrajudicial killings, torture of suspects, and arbitrary detention—remain serious problems despite pay increases and human rights training. Public dissatisfaction with the police has led to a rise in vigilante groups. A 2007 Amnesty International study found that there had been an increase in the number of extrajudicial killings of suspected criminals by police, and that few of the cases were ever investigated or followed up with prosecution of accused officers. Nonetheless, the lack of torture in prisons—a result of an improvement in prison-guard training—serves as a potential model for similar improvements among the police.

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Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, "Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance & Other Ill Treatment in the early years of the 21st Century- Mozambique",, [accessed <date>]