Situation Point: Journalist Ibraimo Mbaruco still missing 90 days later
The 7th of July 2020 marks ninety days since the disappearance of journalist Ibraimo Mbaruco, announcer of Palma Radio and Television, in the north of Cabo Delegado province.
Ibraimo Mbaruco was last heard from on April 7, 2020, around 6:00 pm, when he sent a message via mobile phone (SMS) to his colleague, Juma Saíde Alide, informing that he was “surrounded by the military”. Ibraimo Mbaruco was carried away on a black Algazal motorcycle, by his abductors.
Since this occurrence, MISA Mozambique has tried to locate Ibraimo Mbaruco by all means possible. As part of these efforts, which include contacts with the authorities of the State and the Government, MISA-Mozambique sent a mission to the city of Pemba, capital of the province of Cabo Delgado, who worked from 15 to 17 June 2020, with the aim of harvesting more details of the circumstances that led to the abduction of Ibraimo Mbaruco and investigate, in detail, the course of the process resulting from the complaint presented by the family to the Public Ministry, in the city of Pemba, on April 14, 2020.
During their stay in Pemba, the mission initiated several contacts with relatives of Ibraimo Mbaruco, leaders of media associations and public entities with responsibility in terms of investigation of situations that substantiate the legal type of abduction and/or kidnapping. Given the nature and sensitivity of the matter, most contacts are not expressly identified, being certain that elements are presented regarding the general typology of the same contacts, whenever possible and safe.
From the contacts maintained by the mission in Pemba, it was possible to collect the following information:
- Upon receiving Ibraimo Mbaruco’s message, informing him of the siege in which was, his colleague, Juma Saíde Alide, would have reminded Ibraimo that soon he (Ibraimo) would have to open the radio and local television broadcast of Palma, owned by the Social Communication Institute (ICS), of which both are collaborators. This was the last known communication from Ibraimo;
- All local authorities in Palma have been informed of the disappearance of Ibraimo;
- On April 14, Ibraimo’s family formally submitted a complaint about his disappearance to the Public Prosecutor’s Office Cabo Delgado Provincial in Pemba.
- MISA-Mozambique became aware of information circulated, trying to suggest that at the time of his disappearance, Ibraimo would have intoxicated state, presumably as a result of excessive consumption of Nipa, a traditional drink that is consumed in several regions of the country. However, this information is categorically reported by the family, who says that, for religious reasons, Ibraimo does not consume alcoholic beverages;
- It has also been suggested that Ibraimo’s disappearance is related to passionate issues;
- On the 8th of June, in two different moments, family members from Ibraimo who in Nampula province called their brother, Juma Mbaruco, resident in the city of Pemba, informing him that they had tried to call Ibraimo’s phone and that it rang, but no one answered it;
- Juma Mbaruco confirms that, upon receiving this information, he tried, for two times, from 17 hours 27 minutes of the same day, establish a connection to the number of Ibraimo and confirmed that it was functioning, but he was also not attended;
- This information was communicated to SERNIC, through an agent who will have requested that the number be sent to him in order to follow up on the subject matter.
In view of the data collected, part of which MISA Mozambique reserves the right to not to make them public out of respect for the obligation of secrecy, it is considered:
- That the disappearance of Ibraimo Mbaruco fits into the most range of human rights violations that have been reported in certain regions of Cabo-Delgado province, affected by the armed conflict;
- There are quite a few elements that indicate that it is not a simple disappearance, along the lines suggested by the theses on its involvement in alcoholic beverages or passionate matters, but rather a crime of kidnapping against journalist Ibraimo Mbaruco. MISA has to point out that the allegations on passionate issues have been frequent in situations where journalists are kidnapped or raped in Mozambique;
- That the data relating to telephone calls made to the number of the Ibraimo Mburuco, on the 8th of June, are sufficient to allow the authorities to have access to your location;
- That the circumstances that survived the “disappearance” of Ibrimo offer sufficient elements to enable the authorities to determine their location;
- In these terms, MISA-Mozambique calls on national authorities to clarify this case, finally leading to the shortest possible time, Mbaruco returns to family life;
- MISA Mozambique also calls on national authorities to take the necessary measures to ensure that identical cases do not happen.
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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.