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Amnesty International Accuses Mozambican Police of Brutality

A new Amnesty International report says police in Mozambique get away with killing and torturing people with near total impunity. Tendai Maphosa has the details in this report from London.

The Amnesty International report entitled License to Kill lists cases that back the charge that the Mozambican police are a law unto themselves.

"There have been a lot of reports of police violating human rights in the country and there have hardly been any cases of the police being brought to court. There are laws, but the police are just not being disciplined in accordance with their own disciplinary regulations and they do not appear to be tried either for human rights violations in accordance with criminal law either," explained Amnesty spokesperson Muluka-Anne Miti.

Amnesty says the police are generally unresponsive to the public and provide little information to those who lodge complaints of human-rights violations. Miti says the lack of faith in the police and the judicial system in Mozambique is such that people do not bother to post written complaints at police stations.

The report acknowledges Mozambican police face numerous challenges stemming from high crime rates, a backlog of criminal cases in the judicial system, and occasional violence against police by criminal elements. These have led to pressure from the public for the police to deal with the crime decisively and forcefully.

Police officers have responded to these challenges by using excessive force, including the unlawful killing of suspects.

Miti gave the example of a man who died after being shot by police nearly four years ago, while he was being detained for questioning without a warrant.

"The Human Rights League, which is a human-rights organization in Mozambique brought this case to the police's attention and requested an investigation and to date, this is now 2008 no there are no results for the investigation and as far as we are aware none of the police officers were brought to trial for that," he said.

In 2004, Amnesty International raised the issue of police and human rights violations with Mozambican authorities, but Miti says there has been no response.

The report calls for Mozambican authorities to ensure all suspected human-rights violators be held to account. It also recommends that the laws, regulations and codes of practice that regulate the functioning of the police are reformed to bring them in line with international human-rights standards.

The rights group also urges the international community, especially governments with influence on Mozambique, to assist in the provision of human-rights training for the police, based on international human-rights standards.

VOA contacted the Mozambican High Commission in London regarding the Amnesty International report, but got no response.