Mozambique fails to probe rights abuses: UN

The United Nations criticised Mozambique in a letter seen by AFP on Wednesday for failing to take action following attacks on a dozen rights activists and reporters critical of the government since 2015.

The United Nations Human Rights Commission said it was "concerned at the threats and aggression" faced by "journalists and human rights defenders" opposed to the government.

The letter, dated April 24, singled out the case of media commentator Ericino de Salema, who in March was bundled by gunmen into a vehicle outside the offices of the Mozambican Union of Journalists in Maputo.

Two hours later, he was dumped on the outskirts of the city with a broken arm, fractured legs and severe bruising.

"(The attacks) appear to be related to the expression of their political opinion and criticism of the government," added the letter signed by David Kaye, the special rapporteur on freedom of expression and Michel Forst, the special rapporteur on human rights defenders.

The United Nations, through its Human Rights Commission, had given Maputo 60 days to respond to inquiries about what action was being taken to combat rights abuses - but officials did not respond.

"We express concern at the broader chilling effect this has on the exercise of the right to freedom of expression in Mozambique," said the letter.

The effect on the "media, civil society organisations, human rights defenders and in general those voicing dissent" was particularly serious, it added.

In addition to De Salema's case, the UN missive warned that more than 10 other prominent individuals had been harassed, attacked or killed for their work.

De Salema's assault came less than two years after another commentator, Jose Jaime Macuane, was abducted, shot four times in the legs and also dumped outside Maputo.

Other cases include the fatal shooting of French-Mozambican lawyer Gilles Cistac, a law professor.

He was gunned down in 2015 as he caught a taxi outside a cafe in the centre of Maputo.

"No one has been charged for these attacks and killings," said the letter.

"(We're) concerned that the absence of thorough investigations and accountability for any alleged perpetrators -- as well as the ensuing impunity - contribute to the recurrence of these crimes."

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