Around 40 human rights organizations on Thursday called for the “immediate release” of a Mozambican journalist arrested in the north of the country where he was covering violence linked to an extremist insurgency.
Amade Abubacar, who works for the state-owned Comunitaria Nacedje de Macomia radio and television in northern Cabo Delgado province, has been detained since January 5 on charges of espionage.
Abubacar was seized by police at a bus stop while conducting interviews and taking photographs of people fleeing militant attacks.
“We urge the Mozambican authorities to immediately and unconditionally release him and allow all journalists to operate safely and freely,” the organizations including Human Rights Watch (HRW), Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said in a statement.
Since October 2017, Islamist fighters have terrorized remote communities in the gas-rich, Muslim-majority Cabo Delgado region, killing around 200 people and forcing thousands from their homes.
“Amade Abubacar is a prisoner of conscience detained solely for his work as a journalist,” the statement said, adding that his detention was “part of a pattern of harassment and repression of journalists in Cabo Delgado province”.
Rights groups have accused security forces waging the fight against the jihadists of serious abuses, including summary executions and arbitrary detention.
Abubacar has not yet been formally charged and no trial date has been fixed. Mozambican law, however, stipulates that a suspect cannot be detained for longer than 90 days without charge.