A Mozambican journalist received phone texts and calls from unidentified people threatening to kill him if he continues to write articles criticizing the government.
Serôdio Towo, editor of the weekly newspaper Dossiers & Factos, recently published articles about the involvement of Mozambique’s Labour Minister in alleged financial mismanagement at the National Institute for Social Security.
Towo told me that, on Saturday morning, he received three calls from an unidentified number telling him to “watch out”, “write a will” and that “he was being watched.” That evening, a man called and warned him to “abandon” his current work or “risk losing his life.”
This is not the first time that Towo has been threatened or intimidated. Last March, he reported to police that vehicles without number plates followed him around the capital, Maputo. The police promised to investigate but have yet to reveal the probe’s results. Last Monday, he informed the police and the attorney general about the recent threats. The police told him to change his daily routine but offered him no physical protection.
Threats against journalists and other government critics have become a common occurrence in Mozambique, in some cases ending in violent attacks.
Last month, following disputed local elections, at least eight people received anonymous phone calls and text messages making death threats for allegedly contributing to the defeat of the ruling Mozambique Liberation Front (FRELIMO) in the northern province of Nampula. One person went into hiding because of the threats. Calls by Amnesty International and free speech group MISA Mozambique for the police to investigate the alleged death threats and intimidation appear to have been ignored.
In April, Human Rights spoke with six activists who were living in fear after receiving threatening phone messages for criticizing the government. A month earlier, journalist and human rights activist Ericino de Salema was abducted and beaten after receiving threatening messages. In May 2016, political analyst Jose Macuane was abducted and shot four times in the legs by unidentified gunmen. Both Macuane’s and Salema’s cases are unresolved.
Mozambique’s government cannot continue to ignore its responsibility to effectively investigate allegations of abuse and protect all its citizens. The failure to investigate physical violence and threats against journalists and activists is contributing to an environment of fear in the country.