Amnesty International’s Director for East and Southern Africa, Tigere Chagutah, has responded to a video circulating on social media apparently showing soldiers putting dead bodies into a pile of burning home objects in the northern Mozambique province of Cabo Delgado
“The viral video showing soldiers burning corpses is another horrific event that gives a glimpse of what is going on away from the attention of international media in this forgotten war in Cabo Delgado.
“Tragically it appears that incidents of violence against civilians, extrajudicial executions and other human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law are still occurring, as previously documented by Amnesty International.”
The video, which Amnesty International examined, went viral on social media on January 10th. The incident is believed to have occurred in November 2022 in Cabo Delgado, where the Southern African Development Community Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM) regional force, which includes South African National Defence Force troops, has been fighting armed rebel groups alongside Mozambique government forces since 2021.
The video also shows at least one member of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) watching and documenting the action. On January 10, the South African National Defence Force issued a statement confirming the presence of SANDF member(s).
“The burning of what appears to be dead bodies by soldiers is deplorable and is likely a violation of international humanitarian law, which prohibits the mutilation of corpses and requires that the dead be disposed of in a respectful manner,” Tigere Chagutah said.
He continued, “Mozambican authorities and SAMIM must launch a prompt, thorough and independent investigation into the circumstances of these killings and the burning of the bodies and anyone against whom there is sufficient admissible evidence should be prosecuted in fair trials. Security in Cabo Delgado must not come at the cost of human rights violations.”
Attacks on residents in Cabo Delgado began in October 2017 with an armed organisation calling itself Al-Shabaab, which has no confirmed operational ties with Al-Shabaab in Somalia. SAMIM was formed in 2021 to combat Al-Shabaab, and its members come from Rwanda, Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe.
Amnesty International previously revealed evidence of extrajudicial executions and other unlawful killings, attempted beheadings, torture, mutilation, and other ill-treatment of detained alleged Al-Shabaab fighters, as well as the transfer of a large number of corpses to apparent mass graves in Cabo Delgado.
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