Mozambique: Protecting freedom of expression and information in 2020
Pressure the government to amend the State Secrets Law
Parliament, civil society and international organisations must put pressure on Mozambique’s government to review and clarify Law No. 12/79. It broadly defines as classified documents, those “containing military, political, economic, commercial, scientific, and technical or any other data or information which is detrimental to the security of the State and the people and the national economy.” This wide definition severely undermines citizens’ constitutional right to information.
Speed up the creation of a media regulatory framework
Parliament needs to accelerate the process of establishing a regulatory framework for the media sector. This should include the revision of the Press Law of 1991, the introduction of a legal framework for broadcast media and the creation of a professional press card.
Revise Article 69 of the Public Probity Law
Under Article 69 of the Public Probity Law, it is an offence to disclose the income of civil servants punishable by up to six months in jail. The government should amend this article to allow the press to publish such information if it is in the public interest.
SAFETY OF JOURNALISTS
Pressure state authorities to stop threats and attacks against the media
Government officials, politicians, members of the armed services and police top the list of those responsible for harassments, assaults and unlawful detention of journalists in Mozambique in 2019. State authorities need to respect constitutional provisions on media freedom, which includes the right to gather and disseminate information.
Locate and release reporter Ibraimo Mbaruco
The government must work to locate and release Radio Comunitária journalist Ibraimo Mbaruco, who was kidnapped by military forces on April 7, 2020, in Palma, Cabo Delgado Province.
Investigate and prosecute crimes against media workers
Police should investigate cases involving the attack, assault or unlawful detention of journalists and other media practitioners conducting their professional duties.
Pressure the police to allow all media at briefings
Police need to stop excluding private media outlets from their weekly press briefings.
Create dialogue between stakeholders
MISA Mozambique and other relevant actors should promote a permanent dialogue between media institutions, the government, the parliament and the courts.
Prevent the government from using advertising to control private media outlets
The government should create an instrument to distribute advertising fairly to public and private media so that it isn’t used as a tool to harass, control and silence the press.
Revoke Decree 40/2018
The government should revoke Decree No. 40/2018, which sets exorbitant fees for the licensing of media outlets and the accreditation of journalists. The Department of Information (Gabinfo), which introduced the fees without consultation with media stakeholders, argues the fees are justified as media needs to help support the Office’s activities. Likewise, the Constitutional Council should declare the decree unconstitutional following a petition filed by civil society through the Ombudsman.
ACCESS TO INFORMATION
Better disseminate information to citizens
The government needs to set up systems to make it easier for citizens to access information held by public bodies as regulated by Law No. 34/2014 and Decree No. 35/2015 governing the right to information. This could include, for example, proactively publishing information of public interest and making it available online as well as setting aside spaces within public institutions where people can consult this information.
NEW MEDIA AND ICTS
Review the Cyber Security Act to promote online freedom of expression
Government and parliament should create a specific legal framework on cybersecurity in Mozambique. Media companies and civil society organisations should increase their awareness of the issue of cybersecurity in Mozambique.
The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) was founded in 1996. Its work focuses on promoting, and advocating for, the unhindered enjoyment of freedom of expression, access to information and a free, independent, diverse and pluralistic media.