MISA-Mozambique concerned with PRM deputy commander's threats to media independence and the constitutional right to demonstrate

MISA-Moçambique preocupado com ameaças do vice-comandante geral da PRM à independência dos media e ao direito constitucional à manifestação

MISA Mozambique is concerned about the statements made by the deputy commander-general of the PRM, which are a veiled threat to the independence of the media and the constitutional right of citizens to express themselves freely.

MISA is particularly concerned about the fact that, at a press conference held this Tuesday (21) in Maputo, the deputy general commander of the PRM, Fernando Tsucana, justified the violent repression against defenceless citizens who wanted to express their admiration for the achievements of the late singer Edson Da Luz (Azagaia), with the existence of signs of a "coup d'état" allegedly promoted by the press and Civil Society Organizations.

Citing publications and debates supposedly promoted by the national media, Fernando Tsucana accused the newspaper Evidências, the television channel "Tua TV" and TV Sucesso of fomenting what he called a "social uprising."

Tsucana goes on to say that the police took the initiative to repress the demonstrators because "the march was organized by political parties and members of Civil Society Organizations, and not by musicians," implying that tributes of that nature could only be organized by players in the cultural industry.

Given the seriousness of the police response to the demonstration, the threats made and the statements made by the deputy general commander, MISA Mozambique asked the Ministry of the Interior on Tuesday (21) for further clarification on the causes of the barbarities committed last Saturday (18) by officers of the Police of the Republic of Mozambique.

In a letter to the Minister of the Interior, Asénia Massingue, MISA questions the origin of the orders and the legal basis for banning the march, as well as the aggressions carried out by the police against the demonstrators.

MISA is also asking for clarification on the reasons that led the PRM to go against the authorization granted by those in authority (Maputo City Council), while demanding an official position from that public institution on the responsibility of its agents who, by the acts reported, subverted the constitutional order of free demonstration and assembly and the Freedoms of Expression and the Press (Articles 51 and 48 of the Constitution of the Republic).

For MISA, the attempts at clarification presented on the same date (March 21) by the Deputy General Commander of the PRM, Fernando Tsucana, are nothing more than unfounded suppositions and lacking in evidence. MISA believes that the general command of the corporation is using arguments based on fortuitous facts of insignificant relevance to publicly demoralize activists and the media, as well as to justify its unbridled actions, missing a sovereign opportunity to publicly redeem itself before the people it has sworn to defend.

Assuming the existence of threats to the country's security, as the deputy commander implies, the least that could be expected of the authorities was coordinated action with the leaders of the march to guarantee order and tranquillity
public, on the one hand, and the protection of those universally and constitutionally enshrined rights, on the other.

In addition to the request for clarification, MISA has filed a petition with the Ombudsman's Office asking for institutional and individual responsibility for the act which, for many, tarnishes the reputation of the country recently elected as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.

It is important to remember that in recent years, the denial of the right to demonstrate, the right to information and the limitation of the freedoms of expression and the press have been recurrent in Mozambique. Civic organizations, political parties and even economic actors not associated with the government are deprived of this right.

In May 2022, for example, the corporation prevented a march against the payment of tolls in Maputo city. Journalists covering the event were threatened and the march organizers arrested. This conduct reveals how allergic the country's police authorities are to peaceful demonstrations and to freedom of expression and the press, which reinforces the idea of establishing a dictatorial state.

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