Amnesty International (AI) has accused federal forces, an armed group known locally as ‘Al-Shabaab’ (unrelated to Al-Shabaab in Somalia) and a private military company hired by the Mozambican government, of war crimes and the death of hundreds of civilians in the ongoing conflict in Cabo Delgado.
In the report, “What I saw is death: War crimes in Mozambique’s forgotten Cape”, the human rights watchdog documents serious violations of international humanitarian law by all parties, resulting in widespread death, destruction and a humanitarian crisis that has caused more than half-a-million people to flee.
It also details accounts of violence against civilians by ‘Al-Shabaab’, extrajudicial executions and other human rights violations by government security forces, and indiscriminate attacks by South African private military company, Dyck Advisory Group.
“The people of Cabo Delgado are caught between the Mozambican security forces, the private militia fighting alongside the government and the armed opposition Al-Shabaab – none of which respect their right to life or the rules of war,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East and Southern Africa.
“All three have committed war crimes, causing the deaths of hundreds of civilians. The international community has failed to address this crisis as it has escalated into full-blown armed conflict over the last three years.
“We are calling on all parties to the conflict to immediately stop targeting civilians, and for the government of Mozambique to urgently investigate the war crimes we have uncovered.”
Amnesty International said the report, based on interviews with 79 internally-displaced persons from 15 communities, focuses primarily on the impact of the increased fighting in Cabo Delgado since a major attack by Al-Shabaab on Mocímboa da Praia in March 2020.
Amnesty International said it also reviewed satellite imagery, photographs and medical and ballistics information.
It said its Crisis Evidence Lab completed an open source investigation of available social media material, adding that it also interviewed analysts from international organizations, journalists, humanitarian workers, and local human rights monitors.