Amnesty International said it had received credible reports that Amade Abubacar, a journalist who was being detained in a Mozambican prison, was being subjected to ill-treatment, including denial of food, family visits, and medical treatment.
Abubacar was arrested on January 5 for documenting deadly attacks by armed groups against civilians in Cabo Delgado province and is believed to be in a critical condition in detention. Amnesty International is calling for his immediate and unconditional release.
Amnesty International’s regional director for Southern Africa, Deprose Muchena, said: “Allegations that Amade Abubacar is being ill-treated and denied medical treatment must be investigated thoroughly and transparently and all those suspected of criminal responsibility brought to book.
“Amade is languishing in jail for simply doing his job as a journalist, exposing the suffering wrought on civilians by deadly attacks in Cabo Delgado.
“Mozambican authorities must either charge Amade with a recognisable criminal offence or release him immediately and unconditionally and allow him to continue to do his job without fear of reprisals. His continued detention is a mockery of media freedom in Mozambique.”
Muchena said that Abubacar was being held without visitation rights in an overcrowded cell at the Mieze Correctional Centre in Pemba district, Cabo Delgado province.
The rights body said Abubacar was in good health before his detention but that it now feared for his life.
“We fear that Amade’s health is now in critical condition and his life may be at risk. His original detention was an affront to media freedom and now the authorities seem intent on compounding this shocking injustice by keeping him in detention,” said Muchena.
On January 25, Mozambican Bar Association representatives visited Abubacar with his lawyer at the prison but they were denied a private consultation.
He told representatives in the presence of the authorities that he had been ill-treated by the military, including physical aggression and forcing him to sleep handcuffed. He has also complained of being denied food.
Amnesty International said it believed this type of treatment amounts to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, or even torture.
“Amade Abubacar is a prisoner of conscience who is being detained solely for exercising his right to freedom of expression,” said Muchena, calling for his immediate release.
Abubacar is a journalist at the Nacedje Community Radio in Cabo Delgado. He was arrested while covering attacks on civilians by armed groups that have escalated since October 2017, with more than 100 people killed and hundreds displaced.
– African News Agency