In the wake of Mozambique’s police brutal crackdown of nationwide peaceful demonstrations on 18 March to pay tribute to the late rapper Edson da Luz, various human rights organisations issued strongly-worded statements condemning what was described as excessive use of force.
Undoubtedly the best rapper of his generation, da Luz, better known by his stage name as Azagaia, died on 9 March from an epileptic seizure.
Had the human rights organisations not thought that the police had used force disproportionately, they would not have urged Mozambican authorities to investigate and bring to account those who gave the orders and those in the streets who violently repressed nationwide peaceful protests, for violating the human rights of protesters including international law.
At the time, the United Nations (UN) Human Rights organisation sent out a tweet expressing concerns over the “disproportionate use of force by police amid peaceful marches,” calling “on the prompt release of those arbitrarily detained & (sic) investigation into alleged violations”.
This eventually might have led to the deputy-head of the police and President Filipe Nyusi addressing the nation on the events. The police denied used force disproportionately, and President Nyusi backed this narrative, while ordering an investigation.
Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General António Gueterres’ personal envoy, Mirko Manzoni, has called for the investigation to be concluded, adding that “it’s clear that we’ve two different positions. On the one hand, the opposition is saying that there’s police violence. The police says that it was responding to danger. I think the President spoke in a clear manner. He said: ‘We’ investigate.’ Now, we’ve to see what the result of the investigation is.”
“I think that the Mozambican President has no interest in denying the truth. And if it’s true that the police made an error, it has to take responsibility. But before we speak, we must always let the institutions to do their job,” said Manzoni.
It is surprising that such a supposedly-skilled negotiator as Manzoni believes that a police commission of enquiry set up to investigate police misconduct will be anything but unbiased – if the past is anything to go by, such enquiries have been graveyards for the truth.
The last police enquiry on the brutal murder of social activist Anastácio Matavel just days before the 2019 presidential elections, in the southern province of Gaza, by members of the riot police, is yet to see the light of day. The reason why society found out Matavel’s murderers were a unit of the riot police, it was because they did not manage to make a clean getaway, crashing into two cars as they fled the scene of the crime,
Although a Maputo court convicted eventually tried and convicted the six officers, the police corporation never made public the findings of the enquiry.
Consequently, it would have made more sense had Manzoni demanded that authorities set up an independent commission of enquiry, and not pay lip service to President Nyusi’s words.
Furthermore, Manzoni should have also demanded to know the duration and terms of reference of the said commission of enquiry. But he did not, missing a golden opportunity to inject more speed and seriousness into the investigation.
It beggars belief that he would be so naive to think that police will be impartial in the conduct of an investigation into the alleged misconduct by police.
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