GENEVA (25 January 2019) – The authorities in Mozambique must immediately free journalist Amade Abubacar and investigate allegations that he has been ill-treated, say United Nations human rights experts*.
“At a time of rising threats to journalists and independent media, Mr. Abubacar’s arrest and the allegations of his ill-treatment are extremely worrying,” say the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression, David Kaye, and the Chair of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Seong-Phil Hong.
“We are gravely concerned by this alleged arbitrary arrest and ill-treatment, which appears to be directly related to Mr. Abubacar’s work as a journalist and which could have a chilling effect on the exercise of the right to freedom of expression in Mozambique,” the experts stressed.
Amade Abubacar, who works for Rádio e Televevisao Comunitária Nacedje and Zitamar News, was arrested on 5 January in Cabo Delgado province, while interviewing people who had fled attacks by an unidentified armed group there.
He was reportedly transferred to a military barrack where he was held incommunicado for 12 days and was allegedly beaten on the transfer. He is now under pre-trial detention at the Macomia District Command of the Mozambique Police.
A request by his lawyer for provisional release was rejected by the Macomia district judicial court on 18 January. According to information received, Mr. Abubacar has now been charged with violations of the country’s penal code, raising significant concerns about the criminalizing of reporting in Mozambique.
(*) The UN experts: Mr David Kaye (USA), Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; Mr. Seong-Phil Hong (Republic of Korea), Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.