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Delegates sit at the opening of the 41th session of the Human Rights Council, at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, June 24, 2019. © 2019 Magali Girardin/Keystone via AP

*The following statement was made by HRW on 30 September, during the adoption of the Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review of Mozambique by the Human Rights Commission (A/HRC/48/6).

Thank you, Madam President.

We welcome the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on Mozambique, which contains important recommendations to address impunity for human rights abuses committed by both government forces and an Islamic State (ISIS)-linked armed group locally known as Al-Shabab, in the northern Cabo Delgado province.

We welcome the Mozambican government’s expressed commitment to investigate human rights violations as necessary, particularly if they involved the excessive use of force or other serious abuses by state officials. We use this opportunity to urge the government to ensure that these investigations are conducted thoroughly and impartially, and that those found responsible for crimes are appropriately prosecuted, regardless of rank, according to international fair trial standards.

We also welcome the government’s readiness to provide humanitarian assistance to the victims of attacks in Cabo Delgado. We urge the authorities to ensure that humanitarian aid reaches all the affected communities, and that women and girls who are fleeing violence get the protection and assistance they need, without any conditions.

We are, however, deeply concerned that the responses provided by the Mozambican government during this session fail to match the reality on the ground, particularly regarding the lack of access of the media to conflict-affected areas. International media groups continue to report unnecessary restrictions in getting permission from state institutions to access districts in northern Cabo Delgado, and local journalists continue to suffer harassment and intimation from government security forces. We urge the Mozambican government to stop silencing the media in Cabo Delgado, and immediately allow public scrutiny of the military operations in the province.

We would like to reiterate our concerns about people with psychosocial disabilities being arbitrarily detained and treated without their consent in government psychiatric hospitals. In some cases, people with real or perceived mental health conditions are chained or confined in small spaces -- in homes as well as in traditional or religious healing centers -- where they often receive involuntary treatment. We urge the Mozambican government to ban shackling in law and in policy and consider recognizing involuntary hospitalization based on the existence of a disability as a form of discrimination and without consent of the individual as a form of arbitrary detention.

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