Amade Abubacar was arrested on January 5, 2019 by the police of the district of Macomia, in Cabo Delgado, in the north of Mozambique.
The journalist was arrested while he was interviewing people who had fled their homes because of the intensification of violent attacks by extremist groups in northern Cabo Delgado. After his cellphone was confiscated, Amade was handcuffed and taken to the police station in the same locality, and was transferred the same day to a military detention site in the Mueda district. He was held incommunicado by military forces for 12 days before being transferred back into police custody. He is currently being held at the Mieze prison in Pemba district. At this point, he awaits his bail application hearing.
This is not an isolated case. Estacio Valoi was detained in December last year, in an authoritarian way, eventually being released without any kind of accusation and losing all his work material that was in the possession of the army. Also in 2018 another journalist, from a television station, was arrested while working.
Call on the Minister of Justice, Constitutional and Religious Affairs Joaquim Verissimo to release Amade Abubacar.
All signatures will be sent by Amnesty International to the Minister of Justice, Constitutional and Religious Affairs, Joaquim Veríssimo, in a request that the Mozambican authorities release Amade Abubacar immediately and unconditionally and ensure that he is not subjected to torture or other ill-treatment. Add your name!
TEXT OF THE LETTER TO BE SENT
Your Excellency Joaquim Veríssimo,
I would like to bring to your attention the case of Amade Abubacar, a journalist from the Nacedje community in the Macomia district of Cabo Delgado province, northern Mozambique.
On January 18, the Macomia Court prolonged its pre-trial detention at the Macommia District Police Command. The judge ruled that Amade’s detention was legal since he was taken to court a day after his transfer to police custody. According to article 331 of the Mozambican Penal Code, anyone detained must be brought to court no later than 48 hours after their arrest. The judge did not take into consideration that Amade Abubacar was arrested on January 5 and that he was held incommunicado for 12 days before being transferred again to police custody on January 17. Amade’s prolonged detention is a violation of his right to a fair trial and legal process.
Amade is being held on charges of “violation of state secrecy by computer means” and “public instigation of a cyber crime” provided for in articles 322 and 323 of the Mozambican Penal Code.
Amnesty International is concerned that the accusations against Amade Abubacar relate to his work as a journalist and his exercise of freedom of expression. We believe these allegations are a means of preventing Amade and other journalists from documenting the human rights violations and abuses that have occurred in the province of Cabo Delgado.
I call on you to immediately and unconditionally release Amade Abubacar from arbitrary detention.
Under no circumstances should Amade Abubacar be subject to torture and other ill-treatment whilst detained and will be authorized to contact his family and lawyers of his choice.
I urge you to uphold the right to freedom of expression and for journalists to be able to carry out their work without fear of reprisal, intimidation, harassment and censorship.