Mozambique: A mission from The Observatory assesses the state of civic space and the situation of human rights defenders

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Copyrights: Manon Cabaup / FIDH

A team from the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (a joint programme of FIDH and OMCT) travelled to Maputo, Mozambique, to assess the situation of civic space with FIDH’s new member organisation, the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD). In the run-up to the elections, the team gathered information on the situation of human rights and defenders in the country.

From 29 May to 1st of June 2023, a team composed of representatives of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and its member organisation in Tanzania, Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC), visited Maputo, Mozambique. This mission took place within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (a joint FIDH and OMCT programme). Its aim was to strengthen collaboration on the protection of defenders, particularly with the new FIDH member organisation in Mozambique, the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), which joined the Federation last October.

The team, which sought to gain a better understanding of the situation of human rights defenders in the country ahead of the 2023 municipal elections and the 2024 general elections, was able to meet with representatives of Mozambican civil society, as well as representatives of the national government and the international community. The team was also able to discuss the impact of private sector and extractive industry activities on human rights and security in the country, particularly in the north of the country, with the various stakeholders they met.

The mission provided a better understanding of the scope of CDD’s work in Mozambique, in particular its initiatives relating to protection and promotion of human rights, youth empowerment, economic and social rights and the defence and protection of human rights defenders. CDD also hosts and is currently developing the Secretariat for the Mozambican Network of Human Rights Defenders (RMDDH).

In Mozambique, the Observatory identified the need to establish representations of existing national human rights mechanisms in all country’s provinces, particularly the Ombudsman’s office, the National Human Rights Commission and the Human Rights Directorate of the Ministry of Justice.

The Observatory welcomes recent developments concerning the draft law regulating the activities of non-profit organisations in Mozambique (NPO Bill). It was withdrawn from the agenda of the last parliamentary session, and it has now been put back on the consultation table. All stakeholders must therefore carry out a broad and inclusive consultation process in order to overcome the obstacles to freedom of association as effectively as possible.

Regarding the human rights situation in the north of the country, the Observatory calls for a global approach that tackle the root causes of the conflict and where all parties - communities, civil society, private sector and authorities - are consulted. The province of Cabo Delgado in particular faces security, humanitarian and development challenges linked to the exploitation of natural resources and terrorist activities carried out by a group of insurgents. The Observatory also encourages the development of the national action plan on Business and Human Rights, and the consultation of civil society in this process.

Lastly, the Observatory calls on the Mozambican authorities to respect fundamental rights and freedoms for an open civic space, as well as to protect human rights defenders and journalists before and during the municipal and general elections of 2023 and 2024, respectively. The development and empowerment of a national network of human rights defenders in the country is fundamental and will also help to build a strong civil society.

Following this mission, the Observatory will publish a report on the situation of human rights defenders and civic space in Mozambique, which will include analyses of the pattern of attacks and harassment against human rights defenders and organisations identified during the mission, as well as recommendations to the local and national authorities as well as regional and international human rights bodies.

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