Today’s trial of economist Carlos Nuno Castel-Branco and newspaper editor Fernando Mbanze over a Facebook post criticising Mozambique’s former president makes a mockery of justice and violates freedom of expression, said Amnesty International.
Castel-Branco is charged with crime against the security of the state for publishing a comment on Facebook in November 2013 and faces a jail term of up to two years if convicted. Mbanze is charged with abusing the freedom of the press by reprinting the comment.
“These charges are a violation of their right to freedom of expression and are a clear tactic by the government to stifle dissenting voices,” said Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southern Africa.
“Carlos Nuno Castel-Branco was merely expressing his opinion about the state of affairs in the country. Fernando Mbanze was simply doing his job by publishing the opinion in his newspaper. Mozambican authorities must stop targeting people for simply expressing their thoughts.”
Castel-Branco is accused of defaming former Mozambican president Armando Guebuza after posting an open letter on Facebook, questioning the manner in which he governed the country. He was charged with a crime against the security of the state under article 22 of the State Security Law and faces a sentence of up to two years in prison and a fine.
Fernando Mbanze, the editor of the MediaFax newspaper, is charged with abusing freedom of the press under article 42 of the Press Law in conjunction with the State Security Law for publishing Carlos Nuno Castel-Branco’s Facebook post as an open letter in the newspaper.
“The charges against these two individuals violate human rights and Mozambique’s obligations under international law. Voicing criticism of a former president is not a matter of national security – it is a legitimate exercise of freedom of expression. Mozambican authorities must immediately and unconditionally drop the charges against both men,” said Muleya Mwananyanda.