News

September 4, 2019

RSF and 11 other NGOs write to Pope Francis on eve of Mozambique visit

Pope Francis waves from the window of the apostolic palace overlooking St. Peter's square during the weekly Angelus prayer on September 1, 2019 at the Vatican. Tiziana FABI / AFP
On the eve of a papal visit to Mozambique, where press freedom is under threat just weeks ahead of a general election, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and 11 other human rights groups have written to Pope Francis asking him to press the Mozambican authorities to respect and promote human rights.

 

The joint open letter by the 12 human rights organizations urges the pope to ask the government to “take concrete and meaningful steps to respect, protect, promote and fulfil human rights."

 

As Mozambique prepares for a general election on 15 October, RSF points out that many journalists were attacked or subjected to acts of intimidation during last year’s municipal elections. RSF is particularly concerned about the arbitrary arrests of the few journalists who have tried to cover an Islamist insurrection in which hundreds of people have died in the northeastern province of Cabo Delgado.

 

Investigative reporter Estacio Valoi was imprisoned for several days in December 2018 on a charge of spying for the rebels. Another reporter, Amade Abubacar, was arrested a few weeks later while interviewing rural residents fleeing the violence. He was finally released provisionally on 23 April but is still charged with “incitement” and “insulting state officials.”

 

Mozambique is ranked 103rd out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index, four places lower than in 2018.

 

Read the open letter to Pope Francis below