Bilibiza - Carta de Moçambique
At the time of his arrest in late 2018, the former finance minister complained of inadequate conditions in jail. [File photo: AFP]
Mozambique has filed a complaint for violation of the fundamental rights of Manuel Chang with the South African Constitutional Court. A lawyer heard by DW Africa finds the action unnecessary while highlighting the matter’s importance to the country.
According to Andre Thomashausen, an expert in international law and a professor at a South African university, about two weeks ago, the Mozambican Attorney General’s Office (PGR) filed a complaint with the South African Constitutional Court alleging the violation of Manuel Chang’s fundamental rights.
It has been known since his arrest in South Africa on 29 December 2018 that the former Mozambican finance minister has diabetes. At that time, he complained about the hygiene conditions in jail. But since then, nothing has been said about Manuel Chang’s health or the conditions of his confinement.
“It is not obvious which fundamental rights the [Mozambican] Public Prosecutor will argue have been violated, but it is yet another judicial process which will take a few months to resolve. And of course, the Justice Minister will not make any decision while the matter is still pending in the courts,” Thomashausen says.
“If the Constitutional Court finds that in fact some fundamental right of Mr Chang has been violated, then it would refer the matter to the court that had violated that fundamental right for a new decision. In rare cases, the Constitutional Court may also make a decision, but it usually refers the decision to the court that had made that mistake,” he explains
Human Rights Commission not consulted
As this involves a Mozambican citizen, has the Mozambican National Commission on Human Rights learned of the alleged violations and intervened in favour of Manuel Chang? Luis Bitone is the President of the Commission and states that they were not consulted on the case, while clarifying that “this is not mandatory, because justice organs enforce human rights”.
It is “a matter that is in court and they may, applying international standards, file whatever appeal they deem necessary. By our law it is not mandatory to consult the Human Rights Commission on the issue,” Bitone says.
Thomashausen however believes that it was not correct to file a complaint with the Constitutional Court. “In this case I think that there should only be a complaint of a procedural error, that Chang would not have been properly heard or that he would not have had every opportunity to defend himself. But it is quite difficult to imagine this, because the case has been conducted very carefully, with many and wide opportunities [to raise such issues],” he says.
Anything goes to safeguard Mozambican interests
Thomashausen thinks that Mozambique’s strategy is to delay the outcome of the Chang case, but law expert Emerson Zulo has the opposite view, saying the country would gain nothing from it.
“I understand that this is a mechanism that the Mozambican state has found and thinks pertinent to safeguarding its interests in relation to Mozambican citizens. Now, if this is analysed from a subjective point of view, we will realise, perhaps, the needlessness of this mechanism,” he says.
But Zulo thinks it is legitimate to use all weapons in a “war”. “If there is a legal mechanism, and a way that is not too contentious, even if it were an internal administrative appeal, if there is a mechanism legally provided for Mozambique to safeguard the physical and personal integrity [of its citizens] and somehow [to safeguard] the sovereignty of the country, I think it is important that Mozambique does so.”Deutsche Welle
Bilibiza - Carta de Moçambique
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