Thousands unlawfully held in substandard prisons, says Amnesty Mozambique report

The report, a collaboration between Amnesty International and the Mozambique Human Rights League, describes how people from poor social groups are particularly at risk of being locked up for months, sometimes years, in overcrowded cells without having committed a crime.

Under Mozambique’s national laws all detainees are supposed to appear in front of a competent judge within 48 hours. The judge must verify whether or not their arrest is lawful. In addition every detainee should have access to a lawyer free of charge. In the overwhelming number of cases, this simply does not happen.

In Nampula Provincial Prison, Amnesty International found 196 people crammed into a cell of about 14 metres by 6 metres. The detainees inside were sitting with their shoulders touching and their legs bent at the knees as this was the only way they could all fit in the room.

Amnesty International found one individual who had been held in a maximum security prison for 12 years without having been convicted of a crime or having any kind of court hearing. It did not appear that he had even been charged.

“The aim of a criminal justice system is to ensure that justice is done which includes ensuring that those who have not committed a crime are not unlawfully detained. Mozambique’s authorities must take this responsibility more seriously,” said Muluka-Anne Miti, Amnesty International’s Mozambique researcher.

The report can be found here.



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