ACCESSIBILITY AT UNOG A A A A The United Nations in the Heart of Europe

News & Media

COMMITTEE AGAINST TORTURE CONSIDERS REPORT OF MOZAMBIQUE
29 October 2013

The Committee against Torture this afternoon concluded its consideration of the initial report of Mozambique on how that country is implementing the provisions of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

Presenting the report, Maria Benvinda Levi, Minister of Justice of Mozambique, said that Mozambique achieved independence 37 years ago, but for almost half of that period, the country had been ravaged by civil war, after which the country had been working hard to re-establish civil order, following the peace agreement in 1992.  Mozambique had carried out a number of concrete actions in the area of human rights, such as the creation of the office of an ombudsman and the national Human Rights Commission, whereas the adoption of the national Human Rights Plan was expected soon.  The detention management system had been overhauled and new facilities had been constructed, with the view of improving the overall conditions of the penitentiaries.  The Family Code was currently being revised in order to prevent domestic violence and provide more support to the victims. 

Committee Members expressed satisfaction to be given a chance to review the initial report of Mozambique, which was 13 years late, and engage the delegation in an interactive dialogue.  Experts asked questions about the definition of torture in Mozambique’s legislation, pre-trial detention, overcrowding and conditions of prisons, inter-prisoner violence, treatment of refugees and asylum seekers, rules of extradition, domestic violence, sexual abuse and harassment of boys and girls, corporal punishment, the existence of vigilante justice, and the independence of the judiciary and the magistrates.  Experts were particularly interested in training programmes for law enforcement officials in the area of human rights, abuse of force by the police and fighting impunity.

In concluding remarks, Claudio Grossman, Chairperson of the Committee and Co-Rapporteur for the report of Mozambique, expressed his thanks to the delegation for its presentation and the transparency of its responses.  The purpose of the dialogue was to assist the State party in fulfilling its obligations.  The Committee would adopt its recommendations and send them to the delegation in due course.

The delegation of Mozambique included the Minister of Justice, National Director for Human Rights and Citizenship at the Ministry of Justice, Director for Legal Affairs at the Ministry of Interior, Deputy National Director for Social Affairs at the Ministry for Women and Social Affairs, Head of Department of Research, Information and Planning at the Ministry of Interior, Advisor of Minister of Health, Advisor of Minister of Education, Legal Advisor of Minister for Women and Social Affairs, Head of Department for Legal Affairs at the Ministry of Education, and representatives of the Permanent Mission of Mozambique to the United Nations Office at Geneva.

When the Committee next meets in public at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 30 October, it will take up the combined fifth and sixth periodic report of Poland (CAT/C/POL/5-6).  At 3 p.m. on Wednesday, the Committee will conclude its consideration of the fourth periodic report of Uzbekistan.

Report

The initial report of Mozambique can be read via the link: CAT/C/MOZ/1

Presentation of the Report

MARIA BENVINDA LEVI, Minister of Justice of Mozambique, said that the delegation of Mozambique was happy to have the opportunity to present before the Committee the progress achieved in the area of the prevention of torture.  Mozambique achieved independence 37 years ago, but for almost half of that period, the country had been ravaged by civil war, after which the country had been working hard to re-establish civil order, following the peace agreement in 1992.

Mozambique was a country that respected the rule of law where no impunity was tolerated; both public and private institutions had to obey the law.  All citizens, irrespective of their background, enjoyed the same rights and responsibilities and had recourse to the same remedies when those rights were violated.  The country had made significant progress recently in respecting human freedoms and rights in different areas.  Mozambique had carried out a number of concrete actions, such as the creation of the office of an ombudsman and the national Human Rights Commission.  It was hoped that the national Human Rights Plan would be adopted soon, bringing all actors in the area of human rights together and improving coordination.  

In February 2013, Mozambique had ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture.  The inspectorate role was being carried out by the independent Human Rights Commission, which had recently been established by the State.  Mozambique’s Constitution explicitly prohibited the death penalty and inhuman and degrading treatment.  Any act which constituted physical or mental violence was not tolerated and was punishable, and any cases where such practices had been established to have taken place had led to prosecutions and the disciplining of agents involved.  Such prosecutions were open to the public and could be followed by victims and any interested individuals.   Those in charge of implementing justice were trained in human rights and had a good understanding of prohibited behaviour.

Police forces faced several challenges.  A recent law had improved the organizational structure and ensured that the police would fulfil their constitutional role.  The Government had also approved a new structure of the prison system, with the view of guaranteeing better respect for human rights in the State’s penitentiaries.  In order to improve the physical conditions of detention, additional material and human resources had been dedicated to the prison system.  The detention management system had been overhauled and new facilities had been constructed.  Rehabilitation centres had been opened for juveniles. 

The process of revising the Criminal Code of Mozambique would, inter alia, address the problem of overcrowding of prisons, and would facilitate the rehabilitation of prisoners into society upon their release.  A number of non-governmental organizations had access to prisons and were carrying out an important oversight role.  Awareness raising campaigns were also conducted in close cooperation with civil society.  The Institute for Legal Assistance and Support had been established to help citizens access justice more easily, especially those citizens without resources to hire lawyers on their own.  The Institute had rolled out its services to cover all the provincial capitals and more than 90 per cent of districts, and additional efforts were under way to beef up the existing presence.  The Government was training additional staff in order to ensure that highly qualified staff members were present across the country and not only in the capital. 

There was awareness that more had to be done to combat violence against women and children across the country.  The Family Code was being revised in order to prevent domestic violence and provide more support to the victims.  Police were being trained with the view of having specially sensitized staff for such delicate issues.

A definition of torture, the provision of disaggregated data and the intensification of the fight against criminal gangs, which were a threat to national security, remained among the priorities of the Government, which still requested a lot of work.

Questions by the Experts

CLAUDIO GROSSMAN, Chairperson of the Committee and Co-Rapporteur for the report of Mozambique, commended Mozambique for the ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture as well as the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which prohibited the death penalty.  The opening of the Ombudsman’s office and the Human Rights Commission, as well as the drafting of the national Human Rights Plan, were also described as positive moves.  The Committee hoped to assist Mozambique in addressing the challenges which had been listed by the delegation. 

FERNANDO MARIÑO MENENDEZ, Committee Expert and Rapporteur for the report of Mozambique, welcomed the delegation, which was presenting its initial report with 13 years of delay, covering the period between 1994 and 2010. 

Could more be told about the content of the law establishing the Ombudsman’s office? 

Had new standards been introduced with the new Law on State Security Services

Why was there no inclusion of the definition of torture in the Criminal Code?  If the State party wanted to properly comply with the Convention, it would need to integrate the Convention’s definition of torture into its legal system.  Torture, as defined in the Convention, was an illegal, very serious act and should be punished accordingly.  The Constitution did speak of torture, but not of other degrading and inhuman behaviour.

Police forces were usually the ones using violence under the law.  The police of Mozambique had used violence bordering on torture, on which there had been serious complaints.  Some of those complaints indicated that there might have even been cases of extrajudicial killings.  How were complaints against police violence in prisons or in streets investigated?  What procedures were in place to deal with such cases?  If police officers were investigating each other, which could mean that there might be impunity.  If there was a complaint against a public official, for a criminal inquiry to be conducted, was the Government authorization necessary, or could the victim go straight to the Prosecutor’s office?  The Rapporteur said that the initial report was sincere and honest, but was lacking some information, as it did not show whether the police had been investigated in any cases.

How was the situation of pre-trial detention monitored in order to ensure that the duration of detention was not exceeded, unless decided otherwise by the judge?

The Rapporteur asked for more statistics on the overcrowding of prisons and deaths in penitentiaries.

What was the current situation in the country when it came to accessibility of lawyers across the country?  Was the Institute for Legal Assistance and Support helping to fill the gap? 

Regarding refugees and asylum seekers in Mozambique, who were reported to be 4,000 and 10,000, respectively, how long did asylum seekers have to wait before their status was decided upon?  How was the Government going about expelling or deporting foreigners?  Was there a refoulement procedure applied at borders, or were they placed in specific facilities and repatriated?  Were people being sent back to countries where they would be in danger of being tortured?  The Rapporteur expressed an opinion that when it came to deportations, a number of agencies were involved.  Mozambique had not ratified the Convention on Statelessness.

Was there an international or regional convention in place which would facilitate extradition?

With regard to reparations, there seemed to be various internal remedies, including through the Administrative Court, National Human Rights Commission, Ombudsman’s office, Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Justice.  Were all those agencies able to receive complaints, and what was the exact procedure in place?

Customary law was applied when it came to initiation rites, early marriages, and bonding of children to pay family debts.  The Rapporteur asked how the implementation of the rights of the child had been going since 2008.

The Rapporteur noted problems with regard to the protection of the rights of homosexuals, as reported by non-governmental organizations, and asked for clarifications.

CLAUDIO GROSSMAN, Chairman of the Committee and Co-Rapporteur for the report of Mozambique, asked which steps had been taken to diminish the exceeding of pre-trial detention, which represented an abuse of fundamental rights.  What were the specific circumstances for keeping a person in pre-trial detention?  Some States had moved from the inquisitorial towards accusatorial system – was the Government of Mozambique considering that possibility?

Were those in pre-trial detention kept together with those who had already been convicted?  Were juveniles kept together with adults?  Were there any statistics regarding cases of mistreatment in prisons?  Were prisoners fully aware of their rights to complain? 

Were there enough funds to provide assistance to those who could not afford legal aid?  How could it be guaranteed that the poor were not discriminated against?

The Co-Rapporteur asked about the upcoming changes of the Criminal Code regarding domestic violence.  There was a need for awareness raising in addition to legal reforms.  The Co-Rapporteur asked if there were statistics on domestic violence.

Were any steps being taken towards the decriminalization of sexual activities between consenting adults?  There were provisions prohibiting “acts against nature” – what exactly was the Government’s understanding of that formulation? 

Trafficking was considered as a mild form of slavery and often involved torture.  The passage of legislation did not necessarily ensure the change of reality – what was the Government’s understanding of the progress made?

Was corporal punishment prohibited in all settings? 

What independent mechanisms existed for cases of allegations of torture committed by Government officials?

Regarding the fight against international terrorism, what kind of training was provided in that respect, particularly with regard to article II of the Convention, which stated that torture could not be used even when it was a question of national security?  Had appropriate manuals been prepared?

The Co-Rapporteur noted that Mozambique did not extradite its nationals.  If one of its nationals committed torture outside of the country, could that person be prosecuted in Mozambique on those grounds?  Could foreigners be prosecuted in Mozambique for committing acts of torture abroad?

The Co-Rapporteur asked about the existing training programmes for Government officials in the area of human rights?  Were they mandatory, or a precondition for promotions?  Were civil society organizations and academia involved in training?  The trainees needed to have information about the consequences of violating domestic and international norms?  Fighting impunity was of paramount importance in that sense, the Co-Rapporteur emphasized.

There had been reports of lynching by police and extrajudicial bodies.  In 2008, more than 60 persons had reportedly been lynched, according to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.  Had there been any consequences for the perpetrators?

Another Expert  asked if the delegation could provide examples of incidents of torture, and what exactly the Government had done in that regard?

The Expert asked about the current, real situation regarding the overcrowding of prisons, given that the last reported figures showed that prison capacity rates were exceeded by 244 per cent.  Were there concrete plans to address that burning issue?

Another Expert asked if there was a provision to protect agents who refused to carry out an order of torture coming from their superiors.

Which authority in the country was in charge of issuing expulsion orders, and were there provisions for appeal? 

An Expert commended the training efforts on the implementation of justice, and asked how the independence of judges and magistrates was ensured at the institutional level.  

How many investigations had been carried out and how many prosecutions had there been for cases of torture or ill-treatment, another Expert asked.  What was the nature of the penalties?

Was there updated information on vigilante justice and what steps had the State taken to address the issue?

The structural weakness in the justice sector had been mentioned in the State party report.  An Expert asked for more details on the reportedly adopted strategic plan to deal with that deficiency. 

The Committee was still concerned about the level of implementation of reforms in the prison system.  People were reportedly placed in prisons without convictions, and vulnerable persons were not informed of their rights and access to lawyers.  The general absence of access to justice remained a problem, an Expert commented, and suggested that the Government ought to rethink the whole reform process.

Another Expert said that the rehabilitation of child soldiers and rape victims after the war had proven to be relatively successful, and asked whether a similar system was in place for victims of torture.  Was there training of medical personnel in that regard?  Was there a manual on documentation of torture, in accordance with the Istanbul Protocol?

The Expert commended the State party for adopting the law on violence against women in 2012, even though a lot was still pending in that regard.  Would there also be strengthening of investigations and accountability of those who committed such crimes?

There was a high frequency of reported sexual harassment in schools.  What were the consequences, and what was being done to protect the children exposed to such violence in its aftermath?

Would the definition of rape be expanded to include both boys and girls, and would the age for defining statutory rape be raised from 12 to 16?

Only 0.2 per cent of the State budget was reportedly spent on mental health.  How many people were currently placed in mental health institutions?   Was there on going training for mental health professionals?

How much was currently being spent on the office of the Ombudsman?

Inter-prisoner violence was an issue raised by another Expert, who asked about the statistics and what was being done in that regard.  Could information on sexual violence also be included in the statistics?

Was it accurate that prisoners often actually had to pay in order to receive free legal assistance?

How was the Government dealing with private settlements in cases of domestic violence?

The Expert asked if there had been any punishment of teachers who had sexually harassed or blackmailed pupils. 

Issues of rehabilitation and reparation should be seen as parts of a whole, and it would be good to learn more about details of those intertwined processes in Mozambique.  

Which circumstances would make the State not responsible in cases of torture?

The Co-Rapporteur, Mr. Grossman, suggested that the delegation cluster questions into several groups, which would alleviate the provision of responses.

Responses by the Delegation

The delegation of Mozambique apologized for not presenting the report in due time, for which there were reasons, and committed to delivering future reports in a timely fashion.  The delegation would provide answers in clusters, as suggested by the Co-Rapporteur.  Engaging properly in the on-going exercise would allow Mozambique to grow as a country.

Following the 15-year civil war, the social fabric and the infrastructure of the country had been torn apart.  The recovery process had commenced in 1994 and continued until today.  The country had risen from the ashes over the past 21 years, which was a matter of pride for the Government.  The challenges remained huge, and a lot of time was needed before the country would enjoy the full rule of law.  The Government, for example, was focusing on poverty, education, health and agriculture.  Governance, while strategic, was not assigned the same amount of resources. 

Regarding new regulations for police, the Government would approve by March 2014 the new disciplinary actions which would be applicable when needed.  At the moment, the general statute clearly stated that no State officials should adopt illegal orders from their superiors, no matter which level they came from.

On investigation, compensation and reparation of damages, nobody needed any authorization from any State organ to submit a complaint to the competent authorities, including to the executive branch, which would then also open room for disciplinary actions. 

If police officers were involved in torture, different entities, including the Ministry of Interior, General Prosecutor and the judiciary, would all be involved in the investigation of such offenses.  There had been 50 cases of torture which had gone to the sentencing stage in the reporting period, with sentences ranging between six months and 27 years of prison.  All allegations of torture led to investigations, and some of the work was done by the executive branch and some by the judiciary branch.  For example, the director of a maximum security prison where torture had taken place in 2010 had been suspended and disciplinary actions had also been taken against others found responsible.

Mozambique had not yet defined torture as a crime.  The criminal legislation did not speak about torture as such, but whenever there were actions amounting to it, the prosecution took appropriate actions and placed the offenses under various crime categories.  As a result, article 40 of the Constitution could not be directly applied.

Any abusive behaviour of prison staff and police officials was also subject to punitive and criminal measures, which was a general rule.  No public official was authorized to ill-treat or abuse prisoners. 

Preventive detention was defined by the Criminal Code, which was an old one and was based on a somewhat adopted inquisitorial model, thus coming close to the accusatorial system.  The registration of persons in pre-trial detention took place in police stations where they were taken, and the procedures changed once those persons went to judicial facilities.  There was a need to improve the system due to the current discrepancies in numbering.   In the harshest cases, pre-trial detention periods could be extended to nine months, with a judicial permission granted.

Any person whose rights had been violated (torture, trafficking or domestic violence) could start an appropriate procedure for reparation, in which only civil reparations could be applied.  Judicial, medical and prison personnel were all informed and trained about the procedures related to violence.  Officials who had committed criminal offenses were held accountable.  For example, in demonstrations of February 2008, a child had been hit by  a stray bullet, and the State had had to pay reparations to the family.

Several years ago, there had been serious problems of lynching in the country’s main regions, but 2013 had seen much lower numbers.  The Government had been working on awareness raising in communities, and no one could take justice in their own hands, but criminals should instead be taken to the authorities to process them for their crimes.

The current capacity of the country’s prisons was around 7,000, while the prison population was more than double that number, meaning that there was about one prison bed for two detainees.  Out of those, more than 5,000 were in pre-trial detention.  A number of prison facilities had been constructed, and additional resources had been allocated, the results of which were visible and confirmed by several non-governmental organizations.  A lot more needed to be done. 

There were no specific statistics for the ill treatment of prisoners, but in each case, appropriate measures were taken and whoever was established to be responsible would have to pay for their actions.  The Government was looking into ways of hiring technicians and providing regular salaries for them.

Violence amongst inmates existed, but the Government did not have statistics on that.  Sometimes, those cases were not reported, and it was up to prison wardens to keep an eye on it.  On the other hand, data existed on sexual violence.  The prisons ought to be made a safe environment.

Those between the ages of 16 and 21 were considered as minors.  There were no facilities for them across the country, but there were youth sections in two main prisons of the country, and wings for minors were constructed in other existing penitentiaries.  That did not mean that there would be no contact between minors and adults.

The delegation did not have data on trafficking in persons.  The law on trafficking  had been disseminated and had a positive impact, but there was no guarantee that all citizens were aware of their rights or even of the existence of the law.  On human trafficking, traditionally, victims from Mozambique  were taken to neighbouring countries for sexual exploitation or the extraction of organs.  

Statistical data on domestic violence for 2012 showed that 24,380 cases had been addressed, out of which 15,663 had been of a criminal nature, 6,463 of a civil nature and 2,254 of another nature.  The law on domestic violence was well known and applied.  Women, men and children used the law to redress their rights. 

With regard to rape, there had been 41 cases of reported marital rape in 2012.  Debauchery, including seduction of young virgin girls by older men, was also an issue, and the Criminal Code was being revised to  reflect that problem as well.

One would need to be cautious when discussing harmful traditional practices.  Some traditional practices were well embedded and not harmful, while in others the State needed to intervene.  Early marriage was one of the harmful practices, as the young girl married at an early age would not be educated and would later find it difficult to bring up her children and care for them.  The healthcare and education of her children and the well-being of the wider community would also be affected.  The Government was stepping up its campaigns to explain to the population at large why young girls should be allowed to develop, learn and become functional, well-established adults.  Nonetheless, the mentality was difficult to change.

Human and material resources for the mental health system were falling seriously behind of what was needed.  There were only 416 beds in specialized hospitals in the entire country.  Psychiatric services were available in less than half of the country’s 128 districts.  The most frequent pathologies included schizophrenia, substance abuse and epilepsy.  In some cities, such patients were abandoned and lived in the streets; the Government was making efforts to identify them and send them to proper facilities.  Assistance from hospitals was received for patients in prisons. 

Regarding extradition, there were two stages – administrative and judicial.  The Government assessed the request in order to see if it was in line with the legislation; if so, it was forwarded to the judiciary.  Extradition law stipulated that no person could be sent back if he or she would be a victim of a higher sentence or a sentence not existing under Mozambique’s legal order.

Immigration could be legal or illegal, and Mozambique had no problems with foreigners who immigrated legally; they enjoyed all the rights of migrants.  Otherwise, Mozambique repatriated illegal individuals in accordance with the law. 

Mozambique had yet to reflect on the Convention on Statelessness and decide whether it wanted to become a State party to it or not. 

The State party did not discriminate against persons on the basis of their sexual orientation, unlike in some neighbouring countries.  There had been no identified cases of violence against persons of different sexual orientation.  Article 70 of the Criminal Code was not being used to convict anyone.  The Government was looking into the registration of the non-governmental organization Lambda.

Access to justice was provided by the Institute for Legal Assistance and Support.  There were more than 100,000 lawyers registered in Mozambique, but it was very difficult to find one outside of the capital or provincial capitals.  The Institute was charged for its services, and the Government was planning to increase the number of officials working for it; the goal was to decrease the amount of fees that citizens needed to pay. 

The Service of Information and Security of State was in place and it systematically collected and consolidated information, produced reports and made recommendations, based on which State bodies could decide how to act and address existing problems.  The system ensured that there would be no serious threats to the State, including terrorism, spying, piracy, trafficking in human organs.

The Ombudsman was designed to defend the rights of citizens in public administration matters at various levels.  The law on the Ombudsman, from 2006, had set out cases in which citizens could submit cases to the mediator and how the Ombudsman could obtain information from the State.  The Ombudsman had submitted his first annual report to Parliament in the spring of 2013.

The national Human Rights Commission had been established by a law in 2009, but had only been functional for a bit more than a year.  It was working in line with the Paris Principles, and dealt with complaints, investigations – official and unofficial – and ascertaining whether those violations constituted violations of instruments acceded to by Mozambique.  The Commission had 11 members, including representatives of the civil sector, elected by their peers, and others appointed by the Parliament, President and the Government, as well as a representative of the Bar Association.

Training was in place for judges, magistrates, prison staff, notaries, technicians and officials at the Institute for Legal Assistance and Support, and was provided through a training centre in existence for 13 years.  All those groups benefitted from one to two courses every year.  Annual courses lasted six to nine months, and training courses lasted between one week and one month.  There was a wide array of trainers, including resident and visiting staff, and non-governmental sector representatives.  Some training was mandatory at the beginning of judicial or legal careers and training remained a precondition for many promotions. 

Judges were among the best paid people in the country, which helped them retain their independence.  There was also the Higher Council which managed the provisions of the judicial branch and was under no influence of the executive branch.  The system of checks and balances was in place and was functioning well.

Questions by the Experts

FERNANDO MARIÑO MENENDEZ, Committee Expert and Rapporteur for the report of Mozambique, expressed satisfaction with the comprehensive and complete responses provided by the delegation. 

A question was asked about investigative procedures into cases of violence in police stations or prisons.  Who carried out such investigations?  Did cases go to different bodies?  Could the victim address the courts directly or who decided to send the cases to court?  The lack of such investigations into serious cases, especially of reported violence against women in the capital prison, was worrying. 

Where did the funds used to pay reparations to alleged victims come from?  How much money had been paid in reparations for prohibited acts?  Was there a separation between civil and criminal proceedings?

Extraditions of immigrants who had entered the country illegally were not criminal in nature, according to the State party.  Mr. Marino Menendez noticed a possible confusion of terms “extradition” and “expulsion”.  Could expulsion decisions be taken by border agents, or would higher authorities have to be involved?  Some asylum procedures had been reported to have taken years to process.  Were persons accused of torture normally processed in Mozambique or returned to their respective countries? 

CLAUDIO GROSSMAN, Chairperson of the Committee and Co-Rapporteur for the report of Mozambique, said that torture had to be defined and incorporated in the legislation.  Could that be achieved in the short term?

Were the any proposals to reform the Criminal Code and make the system completely adversary?  There were many examples in South America that had come from the similar background and moved from inquisitorial to adversary systems.

Could judges decide on pre-trial detentions over and over again?  The rate of pre-trial detention in Mozambique was high, but there were higher rates around the world.

What was the Government doing with regard to statistics and was there a central statistics office in place, Mr. Grossman inquired. 

Did the Government believe that it had a good system to establish whether persons would be at risk of being tortured if returned to their country?

There had to be coordination between law and practice when it came to discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, in order to ensure that de jure and de facto conditions were in sync. 

The Rapporteur asked how many investigations had been carried out for cases of lynching

An Expert referred to the expulsion of illegal immigrants and asked whether a formal decision had to be taken in that regard.  Could anyone appeal against such decisions?

Were judges irremovable once elected, and under which conditions could they be stripped of their functions? 

Another Expert asked about specific training sessions for judges related to torture.  Were judges trained on various obligations of the State party to prevent torture and rehabilitate and redress the victims?

The question of management of criminal justice and repercussions it had on vulnerable sections of the population remained, an Expert stressed.  Young people were still often treated as if they were adults.

An Expert asked how many investigations into domestic violence cases had resulted in actual fines. 

What was being done about criminalizing sexual abuse in schools and had any teachers lost their jobs on such grounds?

It was extremely important to include instructions on torture prevention into training programmes, the Expert commented. 

Another Expert asked the delegation to comment on the information that some prisoners who had completed their sentences had to remain in prisons until they paid money in order to secure their release. 

Was there any particular plan in place to improve the detention facilities in police stations?

Responses by the Delegation

The delegation said it was well aware of the challenges facing the country. 

When there were cases of torture, even if it was not yet described as a crime in the Criminal Code, investigations had to be carried out at the body where the offense had occurred.  In the institution where the offender was working, the first step would be disciplinary, followed by a criminal investigation because there were often physical and mental damages.  Someone who committed a disciplinary offense could still be in the job the following year, depending on the circumstances.   For most offenses in the Criminal Code, a penalty, criminal in nature, was imposed, and usually constituted of a prison sentence.

Regarding women’s prisons, and offenses made by prison guards, disciplinary sanctions would be imposed in their own institutions, followed by criminal proceedings, whenever needed. 

There was no specific budget entry to pay for compensation in cases of torture.

Illegal immigrants often used Mozambique as a corridor on their way to South Africa, and were normally denied access to the country.  Sometimes, those immigrants were discovered in subhuman conditions, being transported in overcrowded lorries.  Some immigrants declared that they wanted to be refugees, after which they were transported to the one remaining refugee camp in the country, and their movement was restricted.  They often escaped from the camp and tried to leave the country.  The denial of the refugee status could be appealed in the country’s courts.

Before a person could be extradited to another country, proper extradition procedures had to be in place and legal conditions had to be met. 

There existed a body under the Public Prosecutor’s office in charge of fighting corruption.  Once a month, a bulletin was published on various cases dealt with in the previous period. 

The law to revise the Criminal Code was already in Parliament, and criminal procedures were also being made more flexible, simple and transparent, as was the case with civil procedures.

Most of the time, neither victims nor the authorities appealed to the judicial authorities because the period of pre-trial detention had expired.  When cases were raised, they would normally lead to either the persons’ release or the expedition of their judicial proceedings.

Some units in the Army received specific training for the fight against terrorism, but it was not clear whether they were also trained in the area of human rights.  The Convention against Torture had been incorporated in training programmes for judges and penitentiary officials. 

The Government perceived the issue of compensation as not comprehensive, as it did not include all aspects of reparations for various kinds of damages.

There had been over 20 cases of lynching in 2013, but no current statistics were available at the moment.  Lynching was taking place in two provinces only.  There had been isolated cases of lynching when persons had been accused of witchcraft.

The principle of the impossibility to remove judges guaranteed their independence; once instituted, judges  could be removed for disciplinary reasons only by the Higher Judicial Council.  The harshest penalty was removal from function, after which they could not hold any new public offices.

Efforts were continuing to make improvements in penitentiaries, especially with the view of separating minors from adults.  The Government was aware that contacts of minors with adult prisoners could be detrimental.  Maximum punishments for minors were eight years, a third of those for adults. 

Sentences handed down on the grounds of debauchery or rape were being looked into and would be involved in the revision of the Criminal Code.  Sexual abuse ought to be criminalized as well.

Concluding Remarks

CLAUDIO GROSSMAN, Chairperson of the Committee and Co-Rapporteur for the report of Mozambique, expressed his thanks to the delegation for its presentation and the transparency of its responses.  The purpose of the dialogue was to assist the State party in fulfilling its obligations.  The Committee would adopt its recommendations and send them to the delegation in due course.


For use of the information media; not an official record

CAT13/019E