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Amnesty Asks Mozambique To Probe Torture Of Prisoners

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Amnesty International has told the Mozambican government to investigate a video showing its security forces torturing prisoners.

The video which was allegedly shot in Mozambique’s gas-rich northern province, Cabo Delgado, showed members of the Mozambique Armed Defence Forces (FADM) and the Mozambique Rapid Intervention Police (PIR) committing different crimes against detainees.

Amnesty, in a statement on its website, said it had verified gruesome footage and photos from the region showing crimes against detainees.

According to the organisation, Mozambique’s security forces were shown in the footages attempting to behead some prisoners.

They also show the dismemberment of alleged opposition fighters, possible extrajudicial executions and the transport and discarding of a large number of corpses into apparent mass graves, it added.

Amnesty said the perpetrators refer to their captives as al-Shabab, it said – in reference to a common local name for the Islamist armed group operating in Cabo Delgado.

Full Statement Below

The Mozambique government must launch an independent and impartial investigation into torture and other grave violations committed by security forces in Cabo Delgado, Amnesty International said today, after verifying gruesome footage from the region showing crimes against detainees.

The videos and pictures show the attempted beheading, torture and other ill-treatment of prisoners; the dismemberment of alleged opposition fighters; possible extrajudicial executions; and the transport and discarding of a large number of corpses into apparent mass graves.

In recent weeks there has been an increase in violence in northern Mozambique, where fighters from a group known locally as Al-Shabaab have been attacking members of the security forces and villagers.

“The horrific videos and photos we analyzed are evidence of the serious human rights violations and shocking violence that has been taking place in Cabo Delgado, away from the international spotlight,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East and Southern Africa.

“This behaviour flouts fundamental principles of humanity. The abuses attributed to the group known as Al-Shabaab can never justify further violations by the security forces of Mozambique.

“The government of Mozambique must now order a swift, transparent and impartial investigation to bring all those responsible for such crimes to justice in fair trials.”

The horrific videos and photos we analyzed are evidence of the serious human rights violations and shocking violence that has been taking place in Cabo Delgado

The soldiers committing the atrocities in the videos analyzed by Amnesty International are wearing the uniforms of the Mozambique Armed Defense Forces (FADM) and the Mozambique Rapid Intervention Police (PIR).

In several videos, the soldiers refer to their captives as Al-Shabaab, Arabic for ‘the youth’, a common local name for the Islamist armed group in Cabo Delgado [rather than the group of the same name in Somalia].

Amnesty International is calling on authorities to immediately order security forces to cease all ill-treatment of detainees and other human rights violations in Cabo Delgado and investigate and prosecute all those responsible for the torture or extrajudicial executions of detainees.

Identifying materials

Amnesty International researchers obtained five videos and three photos from sources within Mozambique. The digital materials were verified by the organization’s Crisis Evidence Lab.

Soldiers in the videos wear two different uniforms. Most wear the green and brown ‘lizard’ camouflage, black boots, tan web gear, and yellow-and-black shoulder tabs of FADM, while others wear the lighter green uniform of the PIR. The soldiers carry older Kalashnikov rifles and wear flak jacket-style body armour, which matches that normally worn by FADM in the region.

In addition, they speak Portuguese and Shangaan, a language from southern Mozambique. They also reference recent fighting in Mocímboa da Praia, making it highly likely that the videos were filmed in or near Cabo Delgado in the first half of 2020. However, Amnesty International has so far been unable to independently geolocate the precise location of the filming.

Torture of detainees

Four videos depict the torture of detainees. In three videos, there are three victims – possibly the same three victims, although it is unclear. The three prisoners are tied with their arms behind their back, and then kicked and beaten with sticks or rifles by several soldiers. Meanwhile, other soldiers mock the prisoners and encourage the assault. The prisoners are either completely naked or stripped naked the waist down.

In one video, a soldier says to a victim in Portuguese: “You are not dead yet? You are not dead? Why are you not dead yet? What are you waiting for?”. Another soldier then says: “Smack that shit.” In response, the next soldier strikes the victim’s genitals with a thick stick. Another is heard saying: “Don’t worry, there is not a problem, just smack it as hard as you can.”

In another video, after the beatings, a soldier leans down and uses a knife to cut off a victim’s ear. He then places the ear on the ground in front of the victim’s face, as surrounding soldiers cheer.

Another video shows one victim being similarly tortured, as the soldiers say: “Let’s light him up! Let’s pour gasoline on him and light him up, pour some gasoline on him, he must burn!”. The burning, if it occurred, is not captured in the video.

Possible extrajudicial executions and mutilation of corpses

A fifth video and a related photograph reveals how some victims’ bodies are mistreated after death. The photo shows approximately 15 bodies in the back of a pick-up truck – all bound, blindfolded and half-naked – with many bearing new bruises and open wounds.

The video shows bodies in a mass grave, and soldiers going from body to body, sawing with a long knife to slit the throats of live victims or attempt to behead the corpses. In one case, the victim may have still been alive during the decapitation, as one man is heard crying for his life while a soldier yells back in Portuguese: “Ah, shut up!”.

“The unspeakable cruelty and inhumanity displayed in these videos has no place in any society of order, rule of law and human rights. The Mozambique government has an obligation to immediately launch an independent and impartial investigation to bring those responsible to justice,” said Deprose Muchena.

Background

Since October 2019, a group known locally as Al-Shabaab, allegedly affiliated with the armed group calling itself Islamic State of Central Africa Province, has attacked government forces and civilians in Cabo Delgado, the northern province of Mozambique.

The armed group has committed multiple human rights abuses during the conflict, including the beheading of civilians. However, in a pattern also seen in Nigeria and Cameroon, government security forces have responded with similar tactics.

Cabo Delgado has suffered neglect and under-investment for decades, a problem made worse by natural disasters and the spread of COVID-19 across the region. The area is rich in liquid natural gas, rubies, graphite and timber, and international companies are competing for access to the region, including France’s Total.

Mozambique is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights which prohibit torture and other ill-treatment and arbitrary deprivation of life. As a party to the UN Convention Against Torture (CAT), Mozambique is required to take necessary legislative, judicial and other measures to prevent acts of torture, including conducting prompt, impartial and independent investigations of reports of torture, and prosecuting and punishing perpetrators. Mozambique also has ratified the Optional Protocol to CAT which obligates it to set up a system of unannounced and unrestricted visits to all places of detention by independent national and international monitoring bodies.

East Africa News

Ethiopia, Tigray Forces Claim Victory As US Wades Into Crisis

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Tents belonging to Ethiopian refugees fleeing from the ongoing fighting in Tigray region, are seen at the Um-Rakoba camp, on the Sudan-Ethiopia border, in the Al-Qadarif state, Sudan November 23, 2020. Picture taken November 23, 2020. REUTERS/MOHAMED NURELDIN ABDALLAH/FILE PHOTO

Ethiopian government has said Tigrayan forces are surrendering in the face of an advancing country army. The TPLF forces has however rejected this and said they are on course for victory in their battle against Ethiopia, revealing they struck an important army division.

The Ethiopian government and Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) have had daggers drawn for almost a month.

Hundreds, comprising Ethiopians and Tigrayans have died since the conflict started. According to Reuters, at least 41,000 Ethiopian refugees are in Sudan.

The crisis has seen the African Union calling for a quick resolution between the warring parties.

On Monday, Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed gave the TPLF forces 72 hours to surrender or suffer a wreck. The UN in an instant reaction warned Ethiopia that it has the responsibility of protecting civilians and aid workers in the country.

FILE PHOTO: Debretsion Gebremichael, Tigray Regional President, attends the funeral ceremony of Ethiopia’s Army Chief of Staff Seare Mekonnen in Mekele, Tigray Region, Ethiopia June 26, 2019. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

Mekelle, the Tigrayan capital has about 500,000 inhabitants and they have been threatened with shelling if the TPLF forces fail to surrender.

TPLF leader Debretsion Gebremichael on Tuesday argued against the government version that Mekelle is encircled at a roughly 50km (31 mile) distance. He said it was plan of the government to run for cover when struck.

The United States has now reacted to the ongoing conflict and has advised that both parties sheathe their sword and embrace an amicable resolution. The US has also backed planned mediation of the African Union in the matter.

Abiy Ahmed has been accused of ethnic bias against the northern Tigray people. Ahmed, a Nobel Peace Prize winner comes from the Amhara group and has denied claims by Tigrayans linking his leadership to ethnic preference.

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Missing Genitals Saga In Benue Community

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Daudu is a community in the local government area where the allegation of missing genital organs had spread like fire in the past few weeks, turning the Community of Benue State in Nigeria’s North Central into a ghost town. This follows the arrest of three persons in connection with the murder of a pastor and destruction of property belonging to a businessman after the two were accused of conniving to steal the reproductive organs and miraculously restore them for a fee. Following the murder of Prophet Jacob Uhemba, the police in Benue had to take The businessman, mister Sake Iorhemba into protective custody. It turned out that the bloodshed and arson resulted from a false alarm. From the initial claim that genitals had totally disappeared, the purported victims later said they had only lost potency, but a specialist who attended to the nine victims of missing genitals certified them medically fit.

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Court Revokes Bail, Issues Warrant of Arrest For Nigeria’s Ex-Pension Boss’ Son, Faisal Maina

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A Nigerian court has ordered the revocation of the bail granted to Faisal Maina, the son of ex-chairman, defunct Pension Reformed Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina, over his failure to appear for his trial.

Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court in Abuja, on Tuesday, after giving the order also issued a bench warrant for his arrest “anywhere he is sighted by security agencies.”

Justice Abang, in addition, issued a summon on Faisal’s surety, Rep. Sani Umar Dan-Galadima, who represents Kaura Namoda Federal Constituency of Zamfara, to appear before the court on Wednesday, to show cause why the bail bond should not be forfeited.

The court had on Nov. 26, 2019 admitted Faisal to bail in the sum of N60 million with a surety in the like sum who must be a member of the House of Representatives.

Dan-Galadima had deposed to an affidavit of means, on Dec. 11, 2019, to always come to court at every adjourned date and produce Faisal in court.

News Central reports that a Nigerian lawmaker, Sen. Ali Ndume, who stood as surety for Faisal’s father, Abdulrasheed Maina, was remanded in jail yesterday after the former pension failed to appear for his trial.

Ndume, the Senator representing Borno South in the West African country’s Upper House, had stood as surety for former Chairman, defunct Pension Reformed Task Team (PRTT), Maina, who is standing trial on money laundering charges.

Maina, who was arraigned before the Federal High Court, Abuja, presided over by Okon Abang, on October 25, 2019, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) alongside his son, Faisal, and firm, Common Input Property and Investment Ltd., was released from Kuje in July 2020 after spending nine months in Kuje Correctional Centre.

He had already spent nine months at the prison at the time.

Ndume had also sometime in July revealed that it took him six months of painful consideration to agree to be a surety for the ex-Pension boss, and that it was part of the cross he had to carry as Mr Maina’s elected senator.

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