Mozambique’s AG backtracks

According to Mozambique News Agency, giving his annual report to the country’s parliament, Madeira cited the case of the PIC officers who initially worked on the murder of investigative journalist Carlos Cardoso in November 2000. “We had to remove some of them from the case because they were manifestly apathetic and negligent,” said Madeira (and possibly rather worse than this ‘ at the time, they were accused of collaborating with organised crime). Despite this, “shortly afterwards some of these officers were promoted to Provincial Directors of PIC”, revealed Madeira. It was this, he said, which had led him to call for PIC to be moved out of the Interior Ministry to become dependent on the Public Prosector’s Office. Yet Madeira has now changed his mind. He claimed that there is now a consensus on the Legality and Justice Coordinating Committee (CCLJ ‘ which includes his own office, the Supreme Court, the Administrative Tribunal, and the Justice and Interior Ministries) that PIC “could continue in the Ministry where it is, but with the autonomy that would allow it to feel the authority of the Prosecuting Service more than of anyone else”. This is not much different from the status quo, and would leave PIC in a confusing situation of dual subordination ‘ answerable both to the Interior Ministry and to the Prosecuting Service. Madeira said he had changed his mind about where PIC should be placed “for many reasons” ‘ but did not explain any of them. He did propose one reform ‘ that at the head of each PIC brigade there should be a prosecutor dealing with procedural matters. “This would at least prevent cases of people detained from lying in drawers until the deadline for preventive detention, or even for investigating the case, has expired, as has been occurring, with serious damage for criminal proceedings,” Madeira said. Madeira attacked some, unnamed investigating magistrates who release detainees without giving prosecutors a chance to appeal against their decision. The Supreme Council of the Judicial Magistrature (CSMJ), the disciplinary body for judges, was taking disciplinary action against some of these magistrates, added Madeira, “but the same practice is continuing and is tending to become generalised”. He proposed that the Supreme Court issue an official instruction warning magistrates that it is compulsory to advise prosecutors of such releases. Madeira criticised judges who, based their argument on the constitutional precept that accused persons are innocent until proven guilty, arguing that there is no crime that does not allow release on bail. This, he said, allowed even people caught red-handed committing the most serious of crimes to go free on payment of bail. “No-one is prepared to see an individual who has committed a major crime go home on the presumption of innocence, as if his rights are worth more than those of his victims,” he exclaimed. Turning to the prison system, Madeira declared that Mozambican jails are still overcrowded, still hold people who have not been charged although the preventive detention deadline could have expired, and continue to expose inmates to disease and poor diet, with some jails only giving prisoners one meal a day. None of this would help “re-socialise” the inmates, he pointed out. Visits to prisons by attorneys with no prior warning and sometimes at night had made it possible to detect a range of abuses, including illegal detentions, sometimes “for reasons of pure blackmail”.

April 2006
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