- Amnesty International on Tuesday blamed the government of Mozambique for allowing the police to kill and torture 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," the Deputy Director of Amnesty International Africa Programme, Michelle Kagari, said in a report entitled "Licence To Kill."
"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."
The report also detailed how Mozambican police confronted "numerous challenges stemming from high crime rates, a backlog of criminal cases in the judicial system, and occasional violence against police by criminal elements."
It said the police were subject to public pressure to deal with the crime decisively and forcefully, which was why they have responded to these challenges by using excessive force, including the unlawful killing of suspects.
The report also gave account of the killing of people demonstrating against hikes in transport fees in Maputo in February 2008. During the protest, three people were killed while 30 others got seriously injured by stray bullets.
Mozambican police were accused of being generally "unresponsive to the public, providing very little information to those who have lodged complaints against the police for human rights violations. Victims virtually never receive compensation for these violations."
Amnesty recounted the horrific account of Abrantes Afonso Penicela who was grabbed from his home and pushed into a car by the pole on 14 August 2007. 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 to die, but he somehow survived the attack and managed to crawl to a nearby road where he was found and taken to hospital. He had informed his family and police about what had happened to him, but died of his injuries later that night.
Since then, no police officer has neither been arrested nor prosecuted for his killing, Amnesty complained.
“Any officer suspected of involvement in human rights violations must be held to account,” said Kagari. “Police officers must be made aware that they cannot torture, beat and kill with impunity. They must be held responsible for their actions if policing is ever going to change for the better in Mozambique.”
Amnesty urged Mozambican authorities to ensure steps are taken to prevent human rights violations from occurring in the first place. The report recommends the revision of the police codes of conduct to bring them in line with international standards.
Earlier, the President of Mozambique League of Human Rights, Alice Mabota, raised concerns about the deterioration of human rights in the country.
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