Amnesty International has charged Mozambican authorities to immediately and unconditionally release journalist Amade Abubacar from arbitrary detention by military forces and end the escalating crackdown on journalists.

On 5 January, police in the Macomia district of Cabo Delgado arrested Amade Abubacar while he was interviewing a group of displaced people. According to reports he was taken to military detention the next day but there has been no official information about his fate.

“Amade Abubacar is a respected journalist who was collecting testimony about people fleeing deadly attacks in Cabo Delgado when he was seized by police. This is the latest display of contempt for freedom of expression and media freedom by the Mozambican authorities, who see journalists as a threat and treat them like criminals,” said Tigere Chagutah, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southern Africa.

“Amade Abubacar is being held in incommunicado detention without access to a lawyer or respect for due process. The Mozambican authorities must immediately and unconditionally release him, and ensure that journalists can do their jobs without fear of reprisals.”

Over the past year there has been an escalation in violence in Cabo Delgado province, with armed groups carrying out attacks on civilians. Amade Abubacar was interviewing people fleeing the violence when police officers handcuffed him, confiscated his cell phone and took him into custody.

He has not been officially charged with any crime and has not been granted access to his lawyer. This is the second arbitrary arrest of a journalist in less than a month.

“Instead of targeting journalists who are covering the attacks in Cabo Delgado, the Mozambican authorities should be trying to understand the root causes of the violence and taking action to protect civilians,” said Tigere Chagutah.

Amade Abubacar is a journalist at the Nacedje Communitary Radio in Cabo Delgado. In December 2018 another journalist, Estacio Valoi, was arrested in the same area when he was carrying out his journalistic work. He was later released without charge; however his equipment is still being held by the army.

In June of the same year, another journalist working for a South African television news station, eNCA, was detained while working in the area.

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