Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, February 26, 1999.
Mozambique has a constitutional government headed by President Joaquim Chissano, who was elected in the country's first multiparty elections in October 1994. President Chissano and the leadership of his party, the Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (FRELIMO), which has ruled the country since independence in 1975, dominate policymaking and implementation. The Assembly of the Republic is a multiparty parliament that provides useful debate on national policy issues and generates a large number of independent proposals. During legislative sessions, the Assembly's FRELIMO majority increasingly influenced the executive branch on some policy issues, and opposition parties in the Assembly, working with FRELIMO, were able to develop and enact legislation successfully. The Constitution provides for an independent judiciary; however the executive branch dominates the judiciary, which is largely ineffectual and lacks resources.
The lack of resources and an overall planning strategy continued to hamper the development of a nonpartisan professional army. Many former military personnel of all ranks work in the government security forces. There are several forces responsible for internal security under the Minister of the Interior--the Criminal Investigation Police (PIC), the Mozambican National Police (PRM), and the Rapid Reaction Police (PIR). The State Information and Security Service (SISE) reports directly to the President. Members of the Security forces committed numerous serious human rights abuses.
Mozambique is a very poor country. Approximately 75 percent of the population is employed in agriculture, mostly on a subsistence level. More than 70 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. Major exports are shrimp, sugar, cotton, and cashew nuts. The continued transition to a market economy showed positive results. Privatized state-owned enterprises number 900. The Gross Domestic Product grew 12.5 percent in 1997 and an estimated 8 to 10 percent during the year. Inflation was below 6 percent in 1997 and was near or below zero percent during the year. The economy and the Government's budget remained heavily dependent on foreign aid. The economy had a $520 million (6 trillion meticias) trade deficit in 1997, down from a $613 million (7 trillion meticias) deficit in 1995. The annual per capita income was approximately $145 (1,740,000 meticias) and high unemployment and underemployment in the formal wage sector continued. Corruption continued to be a problem in the public and private sectors.
The Government's human rights record continued to suffer from numerous problems. Numerous police abuses, including extrajudicial killings, excessive use of force, torture and other abuse, continued. Police beat and sometimes tortured detainees, and abused street children. Prison conditions remained harsh and life-threatening; many prisoners died due to harsh conditions and torture. Police continued to use arbitrary arrest and detention, and lengthy pretrial detentions remained a problem. Fair and expeditious trials were not possible due to an inefficient, understaffed, and underfunded judiciary, which is subject to executive influence. The Government continued to restrict press freedom. Media outlets owned by the government and state enterprises largely reflected the views of factions within the ruling party, but many of them also carried significant criticism of the Government's handling of the local elections. The number of independent media increased, and their criticism of the Government, its leaders, and their families largely is tolerated. However, government officials still interfere with editorial policies, prevent reporters from getting certain information, and resort to threats or intimidation when unfavorable stories are published. The Government limited freedom of assembly, and the law imposes some limits on freedom of association. The Government at times infringed on freedom of movement. The country's movement toward decentralization and expanding democracy faltered with unsuccessful local elections in June. Most political parties claimed that some election officials manipulated regulations and restricted the access of opposition candidates to a place on the ballots. However, independent groups were able to run candidates successfully in 13 cities and towns. Security forces did not restrict the right of assembly for purposes of political campaigning when the Government held the long delayed elections. However, there were a few allegations of vote tampering and one egregious case of fraud. The unanimous passage of electoral legislation at the end of the year pertaining to the 1999 elections removed the points of dispute between the parties that had marred the local elections. Nongovernmental organizations are hindered by onerous registration requirements.
Widespread discrimination against women in the areas of employment and property rights, as well as violence against women, remained problems. The abuse and criminal exploitation of street children increased in larger cities, and child prostitution was a problem. Discrimination against the disabled, child labor, and instances of forced child labor remained problems.
RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom From:
a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing
There were no known cases of political killings, but there were reports of extrajudicial killings. The League of Human Rights (LHR) received 10 complaints of suspected police homicide. In all cases, the police officers responsible were charged and trials were scheduled or underway at year's end. In January police killed a striking worker (see Sections 2.b. and 6.a.).
In the northern province of Nampula, the Nacala-Porto Paralegal Center investigated the death in police custody of Intipa Faque. Relatives reported that the young man had been tortured and allowed to bleed to death by policemen who had invaded several homes searching for a video machine that Faque supposedly was hiding. The local police buried the victim. The nongovernmental organization (NGO) representing Faque's family wrote to members of the Government requesting expeditious investigation and handling of the case. The police had not responded by year's end.
A journalist in Cabo Delgado province reported that in October an accused thief, Cabral Manica, died because of police torture. The Attorney General ordered an investigation into Manica's death.
Police shot and killed one demonstrator and wounded several others during a labor strike at a security services company (see Sections 5, 6.c., and 6.d.).
Extremely harsh prison conditions and torture resulted in the deaths of many persons in custody (see Section 1.c.). In Nampula prison, 39 persons died during the year. In May human rights NGO workers in Nampula province asserted that detainees died in jails at Mozambique island and Nampula city (see Section 1.c.). The provincial police commander denied the charges and accused the NGO's of sowing terror.
In September four police officers were sentenced to 7 years in prison for torturing to death Frenque Tchembene in 1996. A Maputo court ordered each officer to pay approximately $3,300 (39 million meticais) to the victim's family in this widely publicized case. An NGO spokesman stated that all four officers had been removed from the force. However, the LHR asserts that Tchembene's family has yet to receive payment from any of the officers. One of the officers was released from custody, promoted, and transferred to another police station. The other officers remained in prison. Under the Constitution, the State is responsible for damage resulting from illegal acts committed by its agents.
At the end of 1997, a RENAMO party official in Gaza province reported that PIR police officers in the village of Chissano fatally shot a young miner, Eduardo Machava, allegedly for refusing a shakedown attempt. Police in the province responded that Machava had been stopped for an alleged curfew violation and had attacked a police officer. The victim's family sued for compensation, but there was no resolution of the case by year's end.
The LHR attributed the 1997 shooting death of Abel Zefanias dos Anjos to rogue police officers. They allegedly detained and tortured the 21-year-old victim, extorted money from his girlfriend for his release, and ultimately freed him. However, the police reportedly hunted him down and shot him, and then allegedly carried his body from the outskirts of Maputo to the city morgue as an unidentified casualty. Several months earlier, in October 1997, the LHR reported that the older brother of dos Anjos, Crescensio Sergio Muchange, had been accused of car theft, beaten, tortured, and killed while in police custody at Matola. The victims' family allowed the LHR to photograph Muchange's battered corpse at the central hospital morgue, where police failed to appear even after the LHR requested their presence. Police deny wrongdoing and have not yet referred either brother's case to the criminal investigation branch.
Occasional mob and vigilante killings continued in both urban and rural areas. In August a mob in central Maputo attacked and beat to death a carjacker as he tried to pull a motorist from his vehicle. There were also other violent, but non-lethal mob attacks (see Section 1.c.).
Some of the 1 million land mines still in the ground after decades of civil war caused 34 deaths during the year.
There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances.
The fate of thousands of citizens who disappeared during the civil war still remains unresolved.
c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
The Constitution expressly prohibits torture and cruel or inhuman treatment, but police continued to commit serious abuses. There were credible reports of police torture, mistreatment, beating, illegal detention, and threats at gunpoint. For example, in March, seven PIR agents took former RENAMO fighter Pesado Rasquiva to their headquarters in Inhaminga, beat him on the head with a club, pierced his hand with a knife, cut off his ear, and tied him naked to a tree all night because he was unable to show an identity card. A journalist in Cabo Delgado province reported that in October an accused thief, Cabral Manica, died because of police torture (see Section 1.a.). In Caia police waited outside a Catholic Church and ambushed and took money from persons leaving a service. Maputo police patrolman Fabilo Alvaro Namuine was severely beaten and thrown into jail for 5 days in May without charge by police unaware of his identity. Namuine attracted his colleagues' attention when he quarreled with a bus conductor. With assistance from a human rights NGO, he was reinstated in his job. No action was taken against the police officers responsible in these cases. Police torture also has resulted in deaths (see Section 1.a.).
Corruption in the police forces extends throughout the ranks, and the PRM used violence and detention to intimidate persons from reporting abuses. There were continued reports of police collusion with carjackers.
Newspapers continued to report that police extort money from street vendors, many of whom are widowed or divorced women, sometimes beating them and often confiscating their merchandise. There were reports of police abuse of street children (see Section 5). Police also beat striking workers (see Sections 2.b. and 6.a.) and extorted money from travelers (see Section 2.d.).
The police have not yet responded substantively to inquiries from the LHR about most cases the League investigated, some several years old. Longstanding police problems of inadequate training, low pay (about $45 (540,000 meticais) per month for ordinary PRM officers), and low force levels continued. Fewer than 19,000 of the target level of 50,000 ordinary police are in service, about half with 6 years or less of formal schooling. In response to these problems, international agencies and donor countries financed training programs that included human rights education, and have graduated 600 PRM officers to date in the ongoing curriculum. Alhough SISE personnel have a reputation for better discipline than the police do, reports persisted of some human rights violations on their part.
In his state of the nation address in April, President Chissano acknowledged that police reform was far from complete, and that public confidence had to be restored. In a speech marking law day and the 23rd anniversary of the police in November, Chissano said that respect for human rights was closely linked with police work. A spokesman for the National Police Command said that investigations of extortion, bribe taking, and brutality by police personnel continued through the year, with punishments ranging from suspension to demotion and expulsion. During the year the police expelled a total of 322 members for incorrect behavior. The Minister of the Interior also criticized the police for misconduct.
Mob violence and vigilante justice remained a problem. In March villagers near Boane in Maputo province publicly flogged three men accused of sorcery and cannibalism. Also in March, vigilantes beat women accused of witchcraft in Matatuine. Such violence also resulted in the death of some victims (see Section 1.a.).
Prison conditions in most of the country are extremely harsh and life-threatening, but showed slight improvement according to NGO monitors. Prison life continued to pose a severe threat to inmates' lives and health. Sanitary conditions remain below minimum international standards. Health workers dispense almost no medical care inside prison walls. Latrine facilities are, in most cases, primitive; in some prisons, inmates must keep human waste in their cells until they persuade or bribe attendants to remove it. Food is insufficient and some prisoners eat only once a day. Throughout the year there were documented reports of many inmate deaths in Nampula from torture, and other reports of prison deaths from cholera, tuberculosis, and AIDS-related illness, as well as reports of extortion, and physical and sexual abuse by guards. In the latter half of the year, the League of Human Rights branch in Nampula reported receiving a letter from inmates in the Nampula jail, describing torture, death threats and unexplained disappearances of some prisoners. The inmates also claimed they were deprived of medical care and family visits, and investigators from the Attorney General's office, the Provincial Justice and the Peace Commission, and Amnesty International, had difficulty gaining access to the prison cells. The provincial police commander accused the LHR of inciting fear in local populations, and stated that recruiting police personnel without adequate background investigations may explain some inadvertent human rights violations. In November one newspaper reported the discovery of a clandestine prison in Buzi District, Sofala Province, where police allegedly detained prisoners in underground cisterns. Local authorities denied the existence of this illegal prison, which is being investigated by the Attorney General's office.
Two National Directorates of Prisons (DNP's), one under the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) and the other under the Ministry of the Interior (MOI), operate prisons in all the provincial capitals. According to NGO sources, MOI inmates are generally detainees who may have been tried by a judge but not sentenced, and some are interned for years (see Section 1.d). MOJ inmates generally have been tried and sentenced in a normal process. The DNP's also hold prisoners at an agricultural penitentiary in Mabalane and industrial penitentiaries in Nampula and Maputo. In most of the prisons, inmates under MOJ jurisdiction are held alongside those under MOI jurisdiction. In a few cases, such as in Machava maximum-security prison, MOI inmates are held separately.
Detention facilities remained severely overcrowded, generally holding four to six times the number of prisoners they were built to accommodate. At the end of the June, Quelimane held 586 prisoners in a prison built to hold 90; Manica held 708 in a prison built to hold 300; and Beira held 882 in a prison built to hold 200. Tete provincial prison held 411 in a prison built to hold 90; Machava maximum-security prison near Maputo held about 2,100 prisoners in a facility built for 500. Maputo City Jail, built in 1955 for 250 persons, actually held 685 prisoners. Maputo Central Prison, built to hold 800 held 2,300 person, of whom 1,570 were awaiting trial. However, the Operational Brigade (B.O.) maximum-security section of the prison, with a capacity of 600, held only 297 inmates. Military and civilian prisoners are held in the same prisons.
There are many prisoners under the age of 16. Pretrial detainees who are minors are incarcerated with adult inmates. The League of Human Rights stated that 14- and 15-year-olds were imprisoned without charge in the Machava maximum-security prison. A special rapporteur from the African Human Rights Commission noted that the country's prisons have an unusually high population of young inmates. A Beira newspaper reported that the city's central jail from time to time houses children as young as age 3, brought there by mothers sentenced for long periods.
Early in the year, Minister of Justice Jose Abudo acknowledged that irregularities and abuses continued to take place in prisons throughout the country. He mentioned a high profile incident in the Tete provincial prison, where a guard was bribed to allow three men convicted of killing a British couple to flee. In another instance, the secretary of Machava central prison was the target of media criticism for driving a Mercedes allegedly purchased by an inmate. In May the head of Chokwe prison was arrested and charged with accepting a bribe after releasing four alleged arms dealers.
During the year 230 new guards were trained by the Ministry of Justice and received, along with veteran guards in refresher courses, a 6-month program of human rights instruction.
The LHR prison monitoring and reform office reported that inmate treatment and facilities in the Maputo jails improved slightly during the year. In the Maputo Central Prison, reportedly the country's largest, running water finally was made available 24 hours a day, substantially improving sanitation. To improve prison conditions, the Ministry of Justice continued to expand the prison food garden program started in 1996. In addition, the Ministry of Justice allocated considerable funds for rehabilitating facilities in 1997 and during the year; for example, a $5 million Mabalane penitentiary project was begun to relieve overcrowding at Machava central prison. The new women's prison at Ndlavela designed for 200 inmates largely was completed but remained unoccupied, due to the lack of a security complement and some unspecified equipment. Independent newspapers criticized the National Directorate of Prisons under the Ministry of Justice for allowing the facility to become a grazing ground for cattle and a de facto brothel.
International as well as national human rights groups may have access to prisoners at the discretion of MOJ and MOI authorities, but officials sometimes cite unsanitary conditions or security risks as reasons to delay or cancel visits. A rapporteur from the African Human Rights Commission toured the country's prisons for 10 days (see Section 4).
d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile
The Constitution provides that the duration of preventive imprisonment be set by law; however, the police continue to arbitrarily arrest and detain citizens. Under Law 2/93, the maximum preventive imprisonment is 48 hours. Within that time period, a detainee has the right to have his case reviewed by judicial authorities, after which he can be detained up to another 60 days while the case is investigated by the PIC. In cases where a person is accused of a very serious crime requiring a sentence of more than 8 years, he or she may be detained up to 84 days without being charged formally. If a court approves, such detainees may be held for two more periods of 84 days each while the police complete the investigation process. In practice, however, the police continue to arrest and detain citizens arbitrarily. In many cases the authorities are either unaware of these regulations or ignore them, often also ignoring a detainee's constitutional right to counsel and to contact relatives or friends. In December the state-owned Noticias Newspaper reported that a journalist, Fernando Quinova, was detained without charge for 23 days after he reported on Radio Mozambique that a prisoner died while in the custody of the police.
In his speech marking the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in November, President Chissano acknowledged that illegal detention and other human rights violations continue in the country's prisons. In mid-November the assistant Attorney General, a group of judges, and police investigators worked directly with prisoners in Maputo Civil Jail, to determine how many inmates were being held illegally, and to raise the awareness of public officials as to the urgent need to improve the situation. The visitors found one man who had awaited trial for 6 years and several others who had waited longer than 2 years.
Most citizens are unaware of their rights, particularly those granted under the 1990 Constitution, Law 2/93, and the Penal Process Code (under revision by the Ministry of Justice with assistance from civil society groups). As a result, detainees can spend many weeks, months, and even years, in pretrial status. The law provides that if the prescribed period for investigation has been completed and no charges have been brought, the detainee must be released; in practice, however, this provision often is ignored, either because of the shortage of administrative personnel, trained judges, and lawyers to monitor the judicial system, or because of intentional neglect.
Drug cases are subject to a special regime. A 1996 law specifies that the legal period of preventive detention in drug trafficking cases is 10 days. The same law authorizes a long period of investigation--up to 9 months--in cases involving drug smuggling, drug production and transfer, and criminal association.
The bail system remains poorly defined, and prisoners, their families, and NGO's continued to complain that police and prison officials take bribes to release those who can afford to pay. A large number of prisoners awaiting trial are incarcerated with convicts in detention facilities. For example, of 411 inmates held in Tete provincial prison, 199 were pre-trial detainees, and in Maputo central jail there were 1,015 pretrial detainees among the 1,998 inmates. According to the Mozambican League of Human Rights, the Beira central jail held 882 inmates, of whom 438 were pretrial detainees. At prisons in Niassa province the figures were 105 pre-trial detainees out of 200 inmates, and in Cabo Delgado province 268 pretrial detainees out of 370 inmates.
The 1990 Constitution expressly prohibits exile, and the Government does not use exile as a form of political control.
e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
The Constitution provides for an independent judiciary and specifically states that the decisions of the courts take precedence over all other authorities and individuals and must be obeyed; however, the executive, and by extension the FRELIMO party, continued to dominate the judiciary, which is understaffed and manned by inadequately trained appointees. Judges largely owed their positions to the ruling FRELIMO party.
The President appoints the President and Vice President of the most important tribunal, the Supreme Court. Supreme Court selections then are sent to the Assembly of the Republic for approval. For lower court appointments, the Supreme Higher Magistrate's Council (CSMJ)--the body responsible for overseeing professional behavior among magistrates--assembles a list of qualified persons; however, the president selects the justices from this list. No Assembly approval is needed for these choices. In the ongoing national discussions over constitutional revision, the goal of strengthening the independence of the judiciary emerged as a crucial concern.
There are two complementary formal justice systems: the civil/criminal system, which includes the customary courts, and the military system. Civilians are not under the jurisdiction of, or tried in, military courts. A 1991 law empowered the Supreme Court to administer the civil/criminal system; it also hears appeals, including military cases, although the Ministry of Defense administers the military courts. Below the Supreme Court there are provincial and district courts. There are also courts that exercise limited, specialized jurisdiction such as administrative courts, customs courts, fiscal courts, maritime courts, and labor courts. Minors 16 years old and younger fall under the jurisdiction of a court system for minors. Through this legal channel the Government can send minors to correctional, educational, or other institutions. The Penal Code contains legal guidelines for the judicial treatment of minors and forbids the imprisonment of minors below the age of 20. However, there are many reports that minors are incarcerated in prisons throughout the country without having been tried (see Section 1.c). As with the provincial and district courts, the specialized and minor court systems are ineffective due to a lack of qualified professionals. Outside of the formal court system a number of local customary courts handle matters such as estate and divorce cases. These courts are staffed by respected local arbiters who have no formal training but who exercise a substantial judicial and executive role.
Persons accused of crimes against the State are tried in regular civilian courts under standard criminal judicial procedures. The law provides definitions of crimes against the State, such as treason, terrorism, and sabotage, but the Government retains the discretion to determine what crimes constitute security offenses. The Supreme Court has original jurisdiction over Members of Parliament and anyone else who is immune from trial in the lower courts. The Constitution calls for the creation of a constitutional council, but the Government has not yet passed implementing legislation for this council. In the absence of this body, the Supreme Court is tasked with ruling on issues of constitutionality (which it did in assessing the results of the local elections).
A judge may order a trial closed because of national security interests or to protect the privacy of the plaintiff in cases of rape.
In regular courts, all accused persons are in theory presumed innocent and have the right to legal counsel and the right of appeal, but the authorities do not always respect these rights. The great majority of the population is either unaware of these rights or does not possess the means to obtain any form of legal counsel. Although the law specifically provides for public defenders, such assistance is not available in practice. Instead, citizens can receive legal help from the Government's National Institute for Legal Assistance and Representation (IPAJ), which has legal assistants working in over half of the administrative districts of the country.
There continued to be a shortage of qualified judicial personnel. There are appeals courts in all provinces, but fewer than half of these courts are staffed by formally trained judges. According to the Minister of Justice, not a single presiding judge in the provinces of Tete, Sofala, and Niassa, holds a law degree, even though the Judicial Magistrates Statute requires such training. In August the Minister estimated that the country needs about 100 judges with advanced degrees, but has barely 40. Some districts have no formal courts or judges at all. Several donor initiatives to remedy these shortages continued, including Danish and World Bank-financed training of district court judges and public prosecutors. The Attorney General's office completed a yearlong training course for 30 persons to become district attorneys. A new Center for Judicial and Juridical Studies moved toward completion as the country's first facility for continuing legal education.
Speaking at the opening of the Supreme Court session in March, Chief Justice Mario Mangaze complained that a number of judges and others responsible to the courts are guilty of unacceptable practices including corruption, chronic absence, unequal treatment, and deliberate delays and omissions in handling cases. Justice Mangaze also presides over the CSMJ, the body responsible for overseeing professional behavior among magistrates. The CSMJ reported that 23 of a total of 134 judges were expelled for corruption between 1994 and 1998, with more cases under consideration. Four judges were expelled during the year, and fifth judge received a 90-day suspension. The chief judge of the Manica provincial court, accused of murdering his domestic servant, still presides.
A lack of licensed attorneys exacerbates the judicial system's weakness. There are fewer than 150 licensed attorneys in the country; most lived in Maputo. In an effort to replace the defunct public organization previously responsible for providing counsel for indigent defendants, some NGO's such as the LHR and the Mozambican Association of Women in Judicial Careers offered limited legal counsel at little or no cost. By September the number of LHR paralegals countrywide rose to 18, and had handled 463 cases by year's end. The IPAJ and the LHR offer legal counsel to prisoners.
Efforts to reintegrate RENAMO-controlled zones into central administrative structures were virtually completed.
There were no reports of political prisoners.
f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence
The Constitution provides for the right of privacy and expressly forbids the use of surveillance techniques. By law police need a warrant to enter homes and businesses. There were no documented reports of such search activity, but some political groups suspected that their telephones were tapped by government intelligence agencies, and claimed that security forces kept watch on their activities.
Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
a. Freedom of Speech and Press
The Constitution, the 1991 Press Law, and the 1992 Rome Peace Accords provided for freedom of expression and of the press, with restrictions only in cases involving national defense considerations; the Government generally respected these provisions. While criticism of the President is not prohibited legally, the 1991 Press Law holds that in cases of defamation against the President, truth is not a sufficient defense against libel. Although the law has not been tested in court, it has resulted in considerable self-censorship in past years. Various critiques of the President's family were published during the year, but did not provoke a court test of the 1991 Press Law. In December the state-owned Noticias Newspaper reported that a journalist, Fernando Quinova, was detained without charge for 23 days after he reported on Radio Mozambique that a prisoner died while in the custody of the police.
Government and state-owned media largely reflected the views of the ruling party, but many such media sources also carried significant criticism of the Government's handling of the local election administration. The Government and state enterprises own the greater part of the country's media, including the country's only daily newspapers, the only Sunday newspaper, and the only weekly newsmagazine. However, the weekly independent newspaper Savana sold more newspapers than the largest
state-owned daily newspaper, Noticias. Most radio and television stations are owned by the Government, but there are local and independent broadcasts in almost all urban areas. The Government's wire service, the Mozambican News Agency, includes reports from all independent media in its daily English and Portuguese transmittals. Radio Mozambique, the public's most important source of information, is government owned, but its news coverage is considered unbiased and fair. It receives the largest single subsidy from the state budget of any public company. Government media are showing greater transparency in reporting and some independence of editorial content.
State-funded Radio Mozambique (RM) is the nation's most important source of information. It broadcasts in Portuguese and a number of indigenous languages; its external service broadcasts in English as well as in Portuguese for the Mozambican community in neighboring South Africa. RM regularly broadcasts public debates that include a variety of participants with differing opinions.
A large number of periodicals and broadcasting entities have been licensed since 1992, but only a minority actually function due to financial constraints. Independent media criticisms of government leaders and their families largely is tolerated. There were 21 printed periodicals and additional 7 periodicals that transmitted daily editions electronically. The influential faxed dailies do not need government licenses since media with print runs of under 500 copies are unregulated. Independent print media based in Maputo continue to expand in number and variety, with more extensive national distribution and ability to influence government policy. Nascent community newspapers and faxed sheets are struggling for survival in eight provincial capitals. Only a small minority of the population receives news directly through either television or the print media. National newspaper sales average 95,000 per day in a nation of 16 million persons, but newspapers usually are shared among multiple readers. Seven weekly newspapers (two state-owned and five independent) have a combined circulation of 76,500. The circulation of independent newspapers more than doubled since December 1997, accounting for 51,500 sales. Six daily or weekly fax sheets have about 1,500 subscribers.
Independent (primarily church-supported) and state-controlled radio stations, most using local languages in addition to Portuguese, have spread to over a dozen cities with more approved during the year. One such station, Radio Terra Verde, is linked directly to the principal opposition party. Foreign radio programs (British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Radio France International (RFI), Radio Diffusao Portugal (RDP)-Africa and Voice Of America (VOA)) reach all major population centers and report local news via Mozambican-based stringers; the BBC and the RFI carry news in Portuguese but broadcast most of the day in English and French, respectively. Portuguese Television for Africa (RDP-Africa) offers a second source of televised news to Maputo and Beira. Privately-owned television transmission continues in Maputo and has been approved for Quelimane. Direct satellite reception of international television stations is widespread in wealthy enclaves; less expensive cable television, due to start in Maputo in the latter half of the year, had not begun by year's end. TV Mozambique moved into a new
Portuguese-built studio and promised nationwide network broadcasting for 1999.
In June the country's first-ever local elections in 33 municipalities brought intense scrutiny of the state-controlled broadcast media, as well as scrutiny of the legal provisions for campaigners' access to the media, and of the National Electoral Commission's responsiveness to journalists' inquiries. The independent media thoroughly reported several cases where state-owned Radio Mozambique journalists apparently were transferred to less prestigious provincial jobs after broadcasting interviews with opposition politicians or critics of the electoral process. Call-in programs on both Radio and Television Mozambique provided an innovation in media coverage of the campaign, but FRELIMO candidates failed to appear for televised debates with opposition candidates in Maputo and Beira. Maputo's state-controlled newspapers and television joined independent journalists in harsh criticism of the Electoral Commission for harassing journalists trying to report on the Commission's allegedly inadequate compliance with various procedures stipulated by the electoral law. The state-controlled papers Noticias and Domingo continued this criticism long after the elections.
The National Union of Journalists (SNJ) completed its transformation from a government-controlled entity and opened its Maputo headquarters and regional offices during the year. In May the SNJ held meetings in Pemba and Tete, and at its Beira, Nampula, and Maputo facilities, to produce its first annual report on the "Principal Problems of Journalists." The SNJ document reported contractual disputes with the independent print media as well as staff complaints against the state-supported Mozambique News Agency (AIM), and newspapers and provincial radio stations belonging to the government-run Institute of Social Communication. The SNJ's report on the dismissal of a Radio Mozambique part-time correspondent following a controversial interview on upcoming elections with the Archbishop of Beira provided a defense of journalists' rights. By contrast, the government-appointed Higher Council of Social Communication (CSCS)--a supposed watchdog for media fairness--never spoke out against efforts by the directors of Radio Mozambique to limit the broadcast of independent and opposition comments at the start of the local election campaign.
The Prime Minister's weekly press conferences are increasingly important opportunities for journalists to discuss politics and government policies. The Prime Minister's information office seeks to facilitate international press access to key government officials and to provide policy guidance on how new media should be regulated. The Prime Minister's information office continues to informally monitor press content.
There are no formal restrictions on academic freedom. Press reports on university forums routinely cite opinions from public as well as private university students and teachers. Private educational institutions, both church-related and secular, are well established and expanding in several cities. A new Islamic university in the northern region was announced during the year. Students from Beira's Catholic University played a key role in monitoring local elections there and in nearby areas.
b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association
The Constitution provides for freedom of assembly and association; however, the Government limited this right in a few instances by intervening forcefully in labor demonstrations. The law regulates public demonstrations and establishes the judicial regime for the exercise of this right. The law does not cover private gatherings, held indoors and by individual invitation, nor does it cover religious gatherings or election campaigning.
Although the law permits the exercise of the right to gather or demonstrate peacefully, it specifies some time limitations. The law states that marches, parades, and processions cannot be held on Saturdays, Sundays, holidays, or between 5:00 p.m. and 12:30 a.m. on other days. The law provides for possible exceptions to this regulation, if justified, but such decisions are not made in an open and established manner. Further, the law states that any organizers of gatherings or demonstrations must submit a notice to civil and police authorities, with at least 10 signatures, for the holding of any such demonstration, along with a justification of the purpose of the gathering. The law stipulates that the Government must remit any objection to such proposals within 2 days of receiving the request, and that no response within this period shall be understood to mean governmental acceptance.
In late January, the elite Rapid Intervention Police (PIR) was called to a strike demonstration by employees of a security services company. The company claimed that strike organizers had assaulted managers and taken them hostage before the police arrived and charged the crowd of 300 demonstrators with their batons. Police fired at the crowd killing one person and wounding four others. Some media and a veteran's association, AMODEG, accused the Government of trying to intimidate the workers. The Mozambique Worker's Organization (OTM), the country's largest labor union, complained to the Minister of the Interior about the use of the PIR. An early government inquiry indicated that the fatal round strayed from a volley fired over the demonstrators' heads by poorly trained regular police. However, many witnesses told the independent press that the victim was shot in the back while fleeing, at some distance from the site of the demonstration. The promised disciplinary action against the police commander responsible had not been taken by year's end (see Sections 1.a. and 6.a.).
Also in January, police injured 20 workers at the Pescamar Fishing Company in Beira. According to the company, its employees began an illegal strike while wage and benefit negotiations were still in progress (see Section 6.a.).
In the period prior to local elections on June 30, scores of public political meetings were organized and held throughout the country by candidates of the ruling party, as well as by independent and opposition candidates. Representatives of some opposition parties also organized rallies in the provinces to urge citizens to refrain from voting. Newspapers and party representatives reported occasional incidents in which citizens were harassed or arrested by police for destroying voter identity cards in protest of alleged irregularities in registration. However, there were no reports of overt government or opposition attempts to abridge the right of assembly for political purposes.
The law provides for freedom of association, with some limitations. Legislation promulgated in 1991 sets forth the process for the registration of political parties. There are over 20 registered, active political parties. Under 1992 legislation, a political party must demonstrate that it has no racial, ethnic, or religious exclusiveness and secure at least 2,000 signatures of citizens in order to be recognized legally.
The Government requires nonpolitical groups, except religious organizations, to register. Although the registration process is not always transparent and can take many months, the authorities rarely reject applications from new associations. There were no reports of government attempts to impede the right of association for political or other purposes.
c. Freedom of Religion
The Constitution provides that all citizens have the freedom to practice or not to practice a religion and gives religious denominations the right to pursue their religious aims freely, and the Government respects these rights in practice. The Government does not require religious organizations or missionaries to register, and routinely grants visas and residence permits to foreign missionaries. The Constitution also gives religious groups the right to own and acquire assets, and these institutions are allowed by law to operate schools.
There were periods of stress in relations between the Government and religious organizations as some Catholic leaders and clergy publicly criticized the conduct of local elections. A journalist who reported critical remarks by the Archbishop of Beira was effectively demoted. Nevertheless, a conference of bishops, including Catholic and Anglican members, meets regularly and consults with the President of the Republic.
The Catholic Church continued to press for the return of properties nationalized in 1975 after independence. While title to places of worship reverted to the church several years ago, the Catholic Church only this year successfully negotiated for the return of many educational, social and residential facilities that had remained in state hands. Muslim leaders also called for the return of properties that had belonged to Islamic groups before independence.
d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation
The Constitution provides for the right to live anywhere within national territory and to travel within the country and abroad; however, at times authorities infringed on these rights.
Police traffic checkpoints occasionally affected freedom of movement. In an effort to reduce harassment and confiscation of travelers' possessions, especially on the main road to and from the South African border, traffic police commanders levied disciplinary fines against abusive police officers. In January the Interior Minister (who described the traffic police as "widely despised") ordered the suspension and training of all officers nationwide who were not licensed drivers. In large cities the police regularly stop foreign pedestrians and order them to present original passports, sometimes refusing to accept notarized copies, and fining those who failed to show proper documents (most people do not like to carry the originals of documents due to the risk of theft). Police also routinely detain local citizens for failure to carry identity papers and try to extort money; the PRM public relations chief in Matola called such detention illegal.
The law includes provisions for the granting of refugee and asylee status in accordance with the provisions of the 1951 U.N. Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol. Mozambique continued to offer shelter to approximately 500 refugees from 11 African countries, Afghanistan, and Russia. In cooperation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Government operates two transit centers near Maputo. Niassa and Tete provinces have scattered groups of transients from Burundi, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, and Liberia; local authorities claimed that some of these so-called refugees were smugglers or criminals. Refugee camp conditions continued to be poor, and some refugee claim to fear attack by fellow refugees on the basis of ethnicity. The UNHCR makes alternative shelter available to those who feel threatened. Mozambique offers first asylum, although it was not granted to any asylum seekers during the year.
There were nine cases of voluntary repatriation and no reports of the forced return of persons to a country where they feared persecution.
Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their Government
The Constitution provides that citizens have the right to elect their representatives by universal, direct, secret, and periodic elections. In October 1994, citizens freely exercised for the first time their right to vote in multiparty elections, which national and international observers declared to be free and fair. President Chissano was elected, with the ruling FRELIMO party winning 129 of the 250 assembly seats. The largest opposition party, RENAMO, made a strong showing in the elections, winning 122 assembly seats and majorities in five of the country's most populous provinces. However, FRELIMO's majority ensured that the National Assembly did not provide a significant check on the power of the executive branch. FRELIMO members hold all cabinet positions and provincial governorships, even in provinces where RENAMO had won overwhelming majorities in the 1994 elections. Thus the President and the FRELIMO leadership continued to control policymaking and implementation.
Voter disenchantment as well as political manipulation by both FRELIMO and RENAMO seriously disrupted the process of local elections in June. However, those elections were marked by the conditions necessary to effect a free change of government: the right to organize parties, to campaign, and to vote without widespread fraud or intimidation. There were tensions between the Government and the RENAMO-led opposition over the conduct of the Election Commission (CNE) and Election Administration (STAE) in registering voters and political parties. Opposition leaders blamed officials for alleged losses of voter registers from the 1994 election census, missing entries in voter records, and excessive delay in registering candidates. Advisors and diplomats determined that many of the opposition's charges were credible, but also found that poor administrative performance, especially by the STAE, stemmed from the authorities' dependence on temporary personnel from government agencies, many of whom were partisan or unmotivated.
RENAMO, the small parliamentary coalition Democratic Union (UD), and virtually all extra-parliamentary opposition parties, withdrew from the local elections process by June in protest of perceived electoral abuses by the Government. Several independent candidates continued to run in Maputo and a few provincial cities, but after a brief 2-week campaign, the June 30 elections attracted fewer than 15 percent of registered voters, and gave an inevitable overall victory to FRELIMO candidates that included a sweep of the 33 mayoral seats. However, independent candidates won a significant number of seats in the municipal councils of the two largest cities and a smaller number of seats in a handful of smaller towns.
In some locations, delays and inefficiency marred the voting process, although there were virtually no incidents of violence and no attempts to impede voters from participating. There were no reports of significant fraud; however, police fined and imprisoned one opposition candidate, Miguel Mabote, for destroying election materials in Xai-Xai. The press detected one egregious case of ballot box stuffing by FRELIMO in Dondo, Sofala province.
In the absence of a constitutional court, which has not yet been created, the Supreme Court took responsibility for validating the outcome of the June 30 elections. The electoral law provided no basis for invalidation due to low voter turnout, and the Court, despite the obvious fraud in Dondo and certain reporting and procedural irregularities, let stand FRELIMO victories in all 33 municipalities. However, two of the justices formally dissented; one found that low voter turnout compromised the legitimacy of the results, and the other found that several allegations of irregularities in the electoral process should have been scrutinized more closely.
There were some indications of an increased parliamentary role in the legislative process. During the Assembly's second session, the ruling party accepted the opposition's proposals for a new law on elections and the National Election Commission, allowing a unanimous vote on the law that would guide the country's 1999 general elections. The Assembly also debated a slate of proposed constitutional reforms developed by a study commission, and sponsored debates on the proposals to name the Prime Minister as head of government, to make his selection more democratic, and to create an ombudsman to assist citizen dealings with the Government.
There are no legal restrictions hindering women's involvement in government, but cultural factors inhibit their effectiveness in public life. There are 62 women in the 250-seat National Assembly, or 24.8 percent. However, some of these women complained regularly in the press that they have no significant role in decision making within their parties, even though FRELIMO's policy mandates that at least 30 percent of the party's two governing bodies must be female. The Political Commission met this mandate, while the Central Committee fell short by about 2 percent. In July President Chissano appointed Acucena Duarte as Minister for Social Action Coordination. She is the only woman in his Cabinet. There are three female vice ministers.
Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights
There are no legal obstacles to the formation of local human rights groups, although registration procedures applying to NGO's are onerous and expensive (see Section 2.b.). During the year, two new human rights groups were established: the Children's League, some of whose members are receiving paralegal training from the LHR for children's advocacy activities; and the Counseling and Rehabilitation Center, a group working in the fields of juvenile delinquency and juvenile imprisonment.
An established human rights groups, the LHR reported that its legal offices had a caseload of 987 human rights violations in 1997, and that during the year there were over 1200 violations. Among the complaints that were not investigated or adjudicated were police homicides, domestic violence, labor disputes, and land conflicts. The organization Democracy and Human Rights focuses on human rights education seminars and workshops for a wide range of audiences including political parties, security agencies, businesses, and NGO's.
The Government responded to human rights-related inquiries from Amnesty International, Transparency International, and other rights-oriented groups. A rapporteur from the African Human Rights Commission toured the country's prisons for 10 days early in the year (see Section 1.c.).
Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability, Language, or Social Status
The Constitution forbids discrimination based on race, sex, religion, or disability, but in practice the Government does not ensure that such discrimination does not occur.
Although official statistics are not kept, according to health officials, women's groups, and other sources, domestic violence against women--particularly beating and rape--is widespread, especially in rural areas. Many women believe that their spouses have the right to beat them, and cultural pressures discourage women from taking legal action against abusive spouses. There is no civil law that defines domestic violence as a crime. A group of women's NGO's, including Women in Law and Development, Mozambican Women in Education, Women in Judicial Careers, and the FRELIMO-sponsored Mozambican Women's Organization, support the organization Everybody Against Violence, which serves as a monitoring and educational group for issues of domestic violence and sexual abuse of women and children. The group registered 1,352 cases in 1996-97, and expanded its activities from Maputo to Sofala and Nampula provinces early in the year. The League of Human Rights reported approximately 100 complaints of domestic violence during the year, about the same as in 1997. All participating groups worked to involve police in the education and enforcement process, portraying domestic violence as a public order issue. The police do not normally intervene in domestic disputes. Cases that do reach the courts deal with specific charges such as rape, which can be prosecuted as a crime, and battery and assault. Hospitals do not usually register physical abuse cases as being caused by domestic violence. Sexual harassment in the workplace is widespread.
Despite constitutional protections providing for the equality of men and women in all aspects of political, economic, social, and cultural life, the civil and commercial legal codes that predate independence contradict each other and the Constitution. The Law of the Family and Inheritance is being revised by the Ministry of Justice with participation from civil society. The Land Law adopted by the legislature in 1997 has not yet come into force because the Government has not issued regulations; civil society groups currently are debating the draft regulations. The husband or father is the head of the household, and both wives and daughters must obtain male approval of any and all legal undertakings. For example, a woman must have the written approval of her husband, father, or closest male relative in order to start a business. Without such approval, a woman cannot lease property, obtain a loan, or contract for goods and services. The legal domicile of a married woman is her husband's house, and she may work outside the home only with the express consent of her husband.
Family law dictates further that a couple's possessions belong to the husband, and that he has full authority to decide on the disposition of these goods. When a husband dies, a widow is only fourth in line (after sons, fathers, and brothers) to inherit the household goods. A contradictory provision of the law states that a widow is entitled to half of the goods that were acquired during the marriage, but in practice women rarely know of or demand this right.
Customary law varies in different parts of the country. In some situations it offers women less protection than family law. Unless a marriage is registered, a woman has no recourse to the judicial branch for enforcement of the few rights provided to women by the civil codes.
A portion of the Land Law relating to rural lands legislature in 1997 came into force in December after some delay in publishing the text and issuing implementing regulations. Sections of the Land Law on urban land were not expected to take effect until early 1999. Women are the primary cultivators of family land in rural areas, where over 80 percent of the population live; however, under customary law they often have no rights to the disposition of the land. The revised Land Law specifically permits women to exercise rights over community land held through customary rights. However, local NGO's such as the Rural Women's Development Association and Rural Mutual Assistance Association caution that a considerable investment of time and education are necessary before the new rights granted to women can supercede traditional practice.
The Constitution discriminates against women because it grants citizenship to the foreign-born wife of a Mozambican man, but not to the foreign-born husband of a Mozambican woman.
Women constitute 51.5 percent of the population and are responsible for 52.4 percent of active economic production. Of this 52.4 percent, according to the latest available data, 91.8 percent are in the agro-fisheries sector.
Women continued to experience economic discrimination in practice. The Presidential Minister for Social and Economic Affairs reported that women in the workplace receive lower pay than men in the same positions. Women often are dismissed first during layoffs. Women in the workplace are subject to discrimination in hiring because of potential absences for maternity leave. Although the Labor Law entitles a woman to 60 days of maternity leave, employers often violate this right.
In the health sector the Government targeted maternity and infant health and focused on immunizations for women in childbearing years and for young children. The mortality rate for infants is 134 deaths per 1,000 infants, and for children under the age of 5 is 200 deaths per 1,000 children. A new NGO, the Association for Family Development, became active in the northern provinces, sponsoring continuing education for women and girls on sexual and reproductive health at classes in Pemba. Numerous other health and community development NGO's also emphasize programs to improve women's health.
In August the Ministry of Social Action Coordination focused new attention on the Government's post-Beijing Plan of Action
1997-2000, based on the declaration of the U.N. Fourth World Conference on Women and on recommendations of the fourth subregional post-Beijing conference held in Gaborone. The plan's objectives, with particular reference to regional issues, are relief of poverty and inequality among women, relief of domestic violence and rape, and assistance to war victims. In the political arena, goals are for 50 percent representation of women in Parliament, 40 percent in government bodies, and 30 percent in local governments. The Government confirmed its intent to ratify international conventions regarding women.
The Government has not made children's rights and welfare a priority, but admits that some children are in trouble. The educational system is overcrowded and there is considerable evidence of corruption. Primary education is not compulsory. Newspapers frequently reported that the parents of school children had to bribe teachers, or that girls exchanged sex with teachers for passing grades. The National Institute of Educational Development estimates that some 62 percent of children between the ages of 6 and 10 are in primary school. Only a fraction of those children continue with secondary studies.
Women continued to have less access than men do to schools above the primary level. Very few girls continue studies beyond the primary level. About the same number of male and female children enter primary school, but by secondary school only 36 percent of students are female, and at technical or higher levels, only 20 percent are female. In some provinces the percentage of female students is even lower. Recent surveys show that about 67 percent of women over 15 years of age are illiterate. Outside the main cities, there are a few secondary schools. Students often travel great distances to attend these schools, and require boarding facilities. In a case that gained national attention in November, residents of Morrumbene district in Inhambane Province demanded the exclusion of girls from the dormitories at the Cambine secondary school. In the absence of separate boarding facilities, local residents blamed schoolgirls for immoral behavior in the community and pressured authorities to comply with the illegal demand, which effectively prevented many girls from attending the school. The few out-of-town girls who remained to study were forced to live in unprotected shacks. The Government's 1998-2001 Education Sector Strategic Plan emphasizes increasing the number of girls in school, as well as the number of female teachers, which at present is very small.
NGO's and the Government took some steps to protect and reintegrate street children all over the country into families or other supervised conditions. There are an estimated 4,000 street children, with 700 to 1200 in Maputo alone. All monitoring groups acknowledge that the actual number of street children exceeds the estimates.
The Vice-Minister of Social Welfare Felipe Mandlate acknowledged in July that state institutions, including the police who often beat street children, and schools, are among the major violators of children's rights. Street children also are often victims of sexual abuse. Some programs sponsored by government agencies and private organizations to help street children continued and included programs on education, information dissemination, health care and family reunification. The Maputo City Social Action Coordination Office continued its program of rescuing abandoned orphans and assisting single mothers who head families of three or more persons, but could not fund a planned business activity to assure sustainability. The same group offered special classes to almost 5,000 children of broken homes in local schools. Other NGO groups sponsored food, shelter, and education programs in all major cities. The Association for Mozambican Children in Beira, also provided counseling to parents who have expelled children from home, usually when a wife has children unacceptable to a new husband.
In August the organization Restore Hope launched a campaign to reintegrate child soldiers into family settings and civil society with the support of the Government, political parties, and religious organizations. Restore Hope is lobbying parliament to exclude former child soldiers from registration for compulsory military service and in October the organization obtained promises from the Defense Ministry that former child soldiers would not be called for service.
Authorities in several provinces took steps to combat child prostitution, usually defined as sexual abuse and exploitation of persons below age 15. In Sofala province, where child prostitution flourishes all along the Beira development corridor, the public social action coordinator, Antonia Charre and Judge Osvalda Joane established information centers. Workers at these centers give information to families and friends of children who are raped and exploited, counseling them on how to deal with the police, public prosecutors, and judges. In Manica Province, there are 300 girls and boys living in prostitution and the local government's Social Action Coordinator created a committee to rehabilitate the children and return them to normal life.
There were reports that children often were used as bargaining chips to settle financial and other disputes in rural areas. According to Domingos do Rosario, a sociologist with the Cultural Patrimony Department, children sometimes were used as labor to settle outstanding economic accounts in rural areas.
There are numerous reports that children are incarcerated with adults in prisons throughout the country, often without having been charged (see Sections 1.c. and 1.e.).
People With Disabilities
Although the Constitution states that "disabled citizens shall enjoy fully the rights enshrined in the Constitution," the Government provided few resources to make this a reality. Representatives of disabled groups and wounded veterans frequently protested that discrimination continues against disabled persons. In September 1997, Vice Minister for Social Welfare Felipe Mandlate acknowledged that such discrimination exists. Wounded veterans and victims of land mines are among the most visible disabled citizens. In July disabled veterans criticized President Chissano for failing to honor his pledge to provide housing, pensions, and other assistance to them. At the disabled veterans' center in Matola, at least 7 of 38 residents died due to lack of adequate food and care, according to the veterans' organization ADEMIMO.
Disabled women protested in August that the Government provides only four schools nationwide for hearing and visually impaired persons and for the physically and mentally disabled. There are few job opportunities for disabled persons.
Social workers in Sofala province discovered that some parents of disabled children in several districts, including the populous towns of Gorongosa and Dondo, did not allow their disabled children to leave their homes. Provincial social action officials began an educational campaign in July to reverse traditional attitudes toward disabled children.
The Government continued to rely on NGO's to assist the disabled. Founded in 1991, the Association of Mozambican Disabled addresses social and economic needs. Smaller NGO's also have formed, notably the Association of Handicapped Military and Paramilitary Mozambicans, which represents disabled demobilized soldiers, and the Association of Blind and Visually Impaired Mozambicans. A new organization for hearing-impaired persons was formed in Pemba. In September the Ministry of Social Action Coordination began a program to standardize sign language to improve communication and employability, and in December adopted a sign language curriculum for special schools.
The only provisions that the Government has enacted for accessibility to buildings and transportation for the disabled were in the electoral law governing the country's first multiparty elections, which addressed the needs of disabled voters in the polling booths. In other places, special access facilities are rare.
There was no systematic persecution or discrimination on the basis of race or ethnicity, although the FRELIMO Government traditionally has included at all levels a disproportionate number of southerners, mostly from the Shangan ethnic group. However, the Government has taken some steps to address this imbalance since the 1994 elections by appointing provincial governors native to their respective provinces. The Government also includes persons originally from the northern part of the country.
Section 6 Worker Rights
a. The Right of Association
The Constitution specifies that all workers are free to join or refrain from joining a trade union. The 1991 Labor Law further protects workers' right to organize and to engage in union activity at their place of employment. The legislation gave existing unions the right to register independently from the Organization of Mozambican Workers.
Until 1992 the only trade union federation was the OTM which was affiliated with, and dominated by, the FRELIMO party. After passage of the 1991 legislation, three unions broke away from the OTM in 1992 and by 1994 had formed their own central union, the Free and Independent Union of Mozambique (SLIM). In January the Ministry of Labor recognized this second central union as a legal entity, known as the Confederation of Free and Independent Unions of Mozambique (CONSILMO). CONSILMO can participate in national negotiations on the minimum wage with the Consultative Labor Commission, a body including representatives from labor, employers, and government. CONSILMO maintained SLIM's working relationship with the OTM, and includes the powerful
28,000-member SINTICIM construction trades union, an early champion of the rights of female workers.
In May 1994, the OTM declared itself free of commitments to any political party, companies, or religious groups, and ruled that members affiliated with any political party could not hold elected union offices. Independent unions maintain that the OTM is not independent of the government.
The Constitution explicitly provides for the right to strike, with the exception of civil servants, police, military personnel, and other essential services (which include sanitation, fire fighting, air traffic control, health care, water, electricity, fuel, post office, telecommunications, and grave digging). There were strikes around the country throughout the year, notably in the textile sector. Workers' demands usually centered on the issues of salary arrears or increases in wage levels, especially in companies privatized during the past few years. Continuing a strike begun in 1997, 1,200 workers at the Texlom textile mill in Matola, managed by a Portuguese firm, went without pay for nearly a year and asked the Government to take over the firm until new private managers could be found. In July the company's board of directors left the country. At Texmoque, another textile firm in Nampula, over 1,000 workers went on strike in July for payment of 9 months' back wages.
The Labor Law forbids retribution against strikers, the hiring of substitute workers, and lockouts by employers. Specific labor disputes generally are arbitrated through ad hoc workers' committees, formally recognized by the Government.
Two members of the workers' committee of a security services company were suspended from their duties after giving advance notification of a January strike action to company management. The law specifies that strikers must notify police, government, union, and employers 48 hours in advance of intended strikes. The firm charged the two with illegally representing employees who were protesting the company's failure to answer a wage and benefits appeal made in late 1997 and with allegedly assaulting company managers. Their case has not yet been resolved. In the course of the strike demonstration, one worker was killed and several others were wounded or beaten by police (see Sections 1.a., 1.c., and 2.b.).
In January 20 workers at the Pescamar Fishing Company were injured when police attempted to disrupt their strike (see Section 2.b.).
The Constitution and labor legislation give unions the right to join and participate in international bodies. The OTM is a member of the Organization of African Trade Union Unity and the Southern African Trade Union Coordinating Council.
b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively
The Labor Law protects the right of workers to organize and engage in collective bargaining. It expressly prohibits discrimination against organized labor. In 1991 the Government decreed that it would no longer set all salary levels. Negotiation of wage increases was left in the hands of existing unions. The Consultative Commission on Labor, which comprises the unions, employers' associations, and the Government, met periodically to negotiate increases in the minimum wage. For the first time since independence, the country's banks signed a collective bargaining agreement, regulating the labor relationship between banks and their staffs. The National Teachers' Organization, formerly a socio-professional group, transformed itself into a trade union in January.
Legislation provides for the creation of export processing zones (EPZ's) and construction began on the first EPZ.
c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor
Forced or compulsory labor is prohibited by law. There were no reports of such practices in the formal economy. The law does not specifically prohibit forced and bonded labor by children, and such practices are known to occur. Children in rural areas sometimes are used as labor to settle economic accounts. Families sometimes delegate their children to work for limited periods to settle economic accounts or repay services owed to others (see Sections 5 and 6.d.).
d. Status of Child Labor Practices and Minimum Age for Employment
Child labor is regulated by the Ministry of Labor, although there are no specific child labor statutes. The law does not specifically prohibit forced and bonded labor by children, but such practices are known to occur in rural areas (see Sections 5 and 6.c.). Also in rural areas, children sometimes work alongside their parents or independently in seasonal harvests on commercial plantations. Employers do not normally pay children wages for such work, but compensate them with gifts such as school supplies and books, which are very costly on the local economy.
In the wage economy, the minimum working age is 18 years. Although, the recently adopted revised Labor Law sets the minimum working age at 15, enabling regulations have not yet come into force. Children between the ages of 15 and 18 may work with the permission of their parents and the Ministry of Education. Children younger than age 15 are not permitted to work. The minimum wage laws apply and the maximum workweek for children is 38 hours (compared with 44 for adults).
Because of high adult unemployment, estimated at around 50 percent, few children are employed in regular wage positions. However, children, including those under age 15, commonly work on family farms or in the urban informal sector, where they perform such tasks as guarding cars, collecting scrap metal, or selling trinkets and food in the streets. The informal labor sector is unregulated. Children also are employed in domestic positions.
Primary education is not compulsory, and only 62 percent of school age children attend classes. Children not in school frequently are employed in the agricultural and informal sectors.
e. Acceptable Conditions of Work
The industrial minimum wage is about $27 (311,795 meticais) per month, which is set by ministerial decree, although the level is recommended through an administrative process. There is also an agricultural minimum wage of about $18 (209,960 meticais) per month, which is set by ministerial decree after informal consultation with agricultural unions. The minimum wage is not considered sufficient to provide a decent standard of living for an average urban worker and family, and many workers must turn to a second job, if available, as well as work garden plots to survive. The minimum wage is sufficient to provide a decent standard of living for a rural worker and family. The OTM estimated in April that the minimum wage would buy only 38.4 percent of a basket of basic necessities. The union calculates that the real minimum wage fell in value by 33 percent in the past decade.
The Ministry of Labor is responsible for enforcing the minimum wage rates in the private sector, and the Ministry of Finance in the public sector. Violations of minimum wage rates usually are investigated only after workers register a complaint. It is customary for workers to receive benefits such as transportation and food in addition to wages. There is no obligation for workers or employers to participate in a social security scheme, although they may voluntarily create and contribute to private accounts or plans with the National Institute of Social Security, to cover retirement, unemployment, and emergency benefits. Worker complaints about employers who deduct social security contributions from wages but failed to pay them into accounts grew in number.
The standard legal workweek is 44 hours, with a weekly 24-hour rest period. In the small modern sector, the Government has enacted health and environmental laws to protect workers. However, the Ministry of Labor enforces these laws ineffectively, and the Government only occasionally closed firms for noncompliance. During the parliamentary debate on revision of the Labor Law, delegates noted that there continued to be significant violations of labor legislation in many companies and services. Workers have the right to remove themselves from work situations that endanger their health or safety without jeopardy to their continued employment.
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