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Journalist Amade Abubacar, who has been detained for 45 days in northern Mozambique and whose release has been requested by the United Nations and other organisations, has turned 32 years of age in detention still awaiting court action, his lawyer has told Lusa.
“There is no progress in the process,” Amade’s defence lawyer Augusto Messariamba said. On February 7, he submitted a new request for his client’s provisional release, the court having responded to the first request with pre-trial detention.
Messariamba visited Amade on Monday at the Mieze Penitentiary near Pemba, the provincial capital of Cabo Delgado, and told Lusa that the journalist appeared to be physically fit.
UN human rights experts argued three weeks ago in Geneva that “the Mozambican authorities must immediately release the journalist”, whose detention has been challenged by several organisations.
David Kaye, UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Speech, and Seong-Phil Hong, Secretary-General of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, argued that “allegedly arbitrary detention and ill-treatment, which appear to be directly related to his work as a journalist, may inhibit the right to freedom of expression in Mozambique”.
But on the same day, 25 January, a spokesman for the Judicial Court in Pemba announced that Amade would await trial in prison so as not to prejudice investigations into his alleged involvement in the movement of armed groups that have attacked remote villages in the province of Cabo Delgado.
The Southern African Social Communications Institute (MISA) believes that accusations of breach of state secrecy (espionage) and public instigation using computerised means reveal a complete misunderstanding of the work of a journalist, particularly as regarding the collection of information.
Amade Abubacar, who worked for different Mozambican media agencies, was arrested on January 5 in the village of Macomia in central Cabo Delgado, as he photographed families leaving the region for fear of armed attacks.
He was taken by the authorities and kept incommunicado for the first few days, it becoming known only later that he was being held in a military base in Mueda, in the interior of Cabo Delgado.
He was later transferred back to a police station in Macomia, the village where he resides with his wife and children, and where he was taken before a judge who, despite making remarks about the way his detention took place, confirmed his arrest.
From Macomia, he was taken to Mieze penitentiary, a few kilometres from the provincial capital, Pemba – the prison that houses dozens of detainees that authorities say are linked to armed groups that have carried out attacks on villages in Cabo Delgado – attacks which Human Rights Watch (HRW ) says are in part also the result of abusive arrests.
About 150 persons were killed over the past year.