1. Overview of the human rights and democracy situation: The situation in Mozambique in terms of human rights and democracy remained challenging. The year was marked by an overall deterioration of political and civil rights, including in connection with the general elections in October. However, on the positive side, the Peace and Reconciliation Agreement between the government and the main opposition party RENAMO was signed on 6 August 2019 setting the parameters for disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) of the RENAMO guerrillas.
The armed insurgency in the Cabo Delgado province deteriorated throughout the year and it has resulted in a growing number of deaths, displacements of civilians and destruction of significant infrastructure, also contributing to significant problems with food security. In this context, further to the insurgency, there were reports of severe violations of human rights, including illegal detentions of journalists and human rights defenders by the Mozambican security forces.
On 15 October 2019, Mozambique held its sixth presidential and legislative elections and elected directly, for the first time, the governors for its 10 provinces. The incumbent, President Nyusi, and the ruling party FRELIMO won the elections in a landslide. The EU deployed an Electoral Observation Mission (EOM) to the elections, which concluded that they were marred by numerous irregularities and malpractices during the entire electoral process, including on the Election Day and in the counting process. Inter-party violence was prevalent as well as a general lack of confidence in the impartiality of the electoral management bodies and security forces. Established national observer groups experienced difficulties with accreditation, hampering the parallel vote tabulation. The EOM proposed 20 recommendations to improve the electoral process in Mozambique touching on all the shortcomings observed.
Of particular concern was the murder of a prominent national observer, Anastácio Matavel, who was murdered by a group of members of the special police force in the Gaza province, shortly before the Election Day. Moreover, numerous party delegates were arrested on the Election Day as they allegedly had fake observer accreditations, and were held in custody for forty-five days until they were released on bail. Other politically motivated murders were also reported during the electoral process. Regarding the press and the freedom of expression, known cases of intimidations, arrests, kidnapping and assaults led to an increasing self-censorship. On 31 December 2019, there was an attempt in Maputo to kidnap the Editor-in-Chief of Canal de Moçambique, a newspaper critical of the government. Nationwide, journalists continued to work in a deteriorating media environment. The silence of authorities and lack of conclusive investigations on many cases has contributed to a culture of impunity, which is also manifested in the fight against corruption.
Gender based violence remains a serious problem although Mozambique has reinforced its commitment to gender equality by approving key policies and laws in July 2019, including against early marriages. However, despite a relatively strong legal framework in line with international standards there is a general lack of implementation of these laws. An encouraging outcome from the October elections is the increase of women in the parliamentary assemblies. At the state-level, 42 % of the new deputies are women, including the Speaker of the Parliament.
2. EU Action - key focus areas: In 2019, the EU continued to focus on key areas such as the consolidation of peace and democracy, the rule of law and good governance, with a special emphasis on the fight against corruption and promotion of fundamental rights and freedoms. There was also a particular focus on gender related discrimination and violence through the Spotlight initiative.
3. EU bilateral political engagement: The human rights situation in Mozambique was discussed with the government at the Article 8 Political Dialogue in June. As a result, there is agreement in principle to hold regular dialogues between the EU and Mozambique on human rights and on issues regarding the rule of law. EU political engagement in support of the current electoral cycle contributed to the deployment of an Election Observation Mission (EOM), which formulated a series of recommendations to the government and the electoral bodies that should facilitate a dialogue with authorities on political and electoral reforms. Moreover, the EU has continually supported sustainable peace, encouraging ongoing dialogue through public and non-public communication, while announcing its commitment to effectively support the implementation of the Peace and Reconciliation Agreement signed in August. The EU has also been in regular contact with civil society in a dialogue focusing on human rights and democracy.
4. EU financial engagement: As regards support to democracy and citizen's rights, further to the EU EOM deployment, the EU is supporting the electoral process in Mozambique, jointly with Austria, through an EDF project worth EUR 8.8 million implemented by International IDEA. The project, with a strong gender emphasis, covers not only support to domestic observers and to the newly elected representatives, but also is encouraging citizens' participation (including civic education) and support the reform of the electoral legislation. The EU's initiatives are complementary to EU Member States' engagement in support to the electoral process. Through MASC/Votar Moçambique civic education activities using local community radios and social media were developed. The preparation of an induction course for the newly elected deputies in the Parliamentary Assembly also started. In addition, 120 tents were delivered to be used as polling stations in areas affected by the cyclone Idai.
Several EU Member States provided specific support in the field of human rights. Ireland provided funding to the Institute for Multiparty Democracy (IMD) for the third phase of ‘Promoting Democracy - Good Governance and Elections with Integrity’, which included support to the election monitoring platform ‘Sala da Paz’ and the provision of training to national election observers. Sweden supported the elections through EISA to improve the engagement and capacity of all stakeholders in the electoral process and to improve legal and institutional framework for elections. Sweden and The Netherlands jointly supported a programme aiming at inclusive and accountable governance. Germany focused its efforts on young first time voters and prevention and resolution of electoral disputes. Finland supported the UNDP project dedicated to Electoral Authorities of Mozambique, including Information Technology support and women’s participation. Italy completed the preparation of a programme aimed at modernisation of the civil registration and vital statistics system. Italy also advanced with actions to support the rights to economic and social inclusion, in the framework of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). Finland supported through the Institute for Multiparty Democracy (IMD) the strengthening of the role and capacities of the national and provincial parliaments in the field of governance issues, including human rights related to extractive industries. Finland and Denmark supported the capacities of the Ministry of Economy and Finance and the Eduardo Mondlane University to produce and use good quality research for informed decision-making. Belgium strengthened the capacities of the Ministry of Finance via a delegated cooperation with IMF. Portugal continued to support the project ’New Generation of Women Leaders’ in Nampula. France supported awareness raising, with particular attention to domestic violence.
5. Multilateral context: Mozambique went through the review of the Committee of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and adopted legislation against forced marriages to align itself with the CRC.