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Startseite Urgent Actions 2019 06 Refugees, asylum seekers held arbitrarily Refugees, asylum seekers held without charge
FI 078/19-1
Abgeschlossen am 27. September 2019

Refugees, asylum seekers held without charge

AI-Index: AFR 41/0880/2019

Fifteen refugees and asylum seekers (14 men, one woman) from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and one male refugee from Ethiopia have been arbitrarily detained for more than seven months. They have not been notified of the reason for their detention or of any criminal charges against them. According to Article 308 of the Criminal Procedural Code, a person cannot be held in pre-trial detention for more than 90 days after their arrest. They were arrested on 17 January at the Maratane Camp, in Nampula province.


The 14 men and one woman from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and one male refugee from Ethiopia were arbitrarily arrested by the Police of the Republic of Mozambique (PRM) and immigration officers on 17 January 2019 at Maratane Camp, in Nampula province. The police and immigration officers arrived at the Maratane Camp in the evening. On arrival at the camp, these officers beat, hand-cuffed and arrested the 16 refugees and asylum seekers without a warrant. On 19 January, the PRM transferred them from Nampula to the Third Police Station in Pemba, Cabo Delgado province. The refugees and asylum seekers were not informed of the reasons for their detention or of any criminal charges against them.

On 23 January 2019, the government of Mozambique deported seven men from the group of 16 refugees and asylum seekers, who were originally from the DRC. They were not notified of a deportation order, nor were they permitted to challenge their deportation. According to testimony from the seven men, the immigration officers forced them to board a flight to Kinshasa, DRC. When they arrived at the Kinshasa airport, immigration officers denied them entry and ordered their return to Mozambique.

The 16 refugees and asylum seekers are currently detained at the Third Police Station in Pemba.

Everyone – including irregular migrants, regular migrants, asylum-seekers and refugees – has the right to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, due process and judicial guarantees, to adequate detention conditions, including access to food, water and adequate health care, and to not be subjected to arbitrary detention, ill-treatment, collective expulsion or refoulment. All states are forbidden from transferring anyone to a place where they would be at real risk of serious human rights violations.

In April 2019, Cyclone Kenneth caused a landfall in Mozambique’s northern province of Cabo Delgado. The cyclone destroyed houses and damaged vital infrastructure such as schools, hospitals, roads, sanitation facilities and communication networks. The Third Police Station, where the 16 refugees and asylum seekers are being held, was flooded when the cyclone hit and was left in poor condition.

All of the 16 refugees and asylum seekers have family living in the Maratane Refugee Camp in Nampula province, who lack the financial means to travel to Pemba in Cabo Delgado province to visit them. In addition to that, due to the ongoing violent attacks in Cabo Delgado province, road travel to Pemba could be very dangerous.

Since October 2017, armed groups have killed civilians in the Cabo Delgado province, northern Mozambique. The attacks started in Mocimboa da Praia district (northern Cabo Delgado), involving members of a violent group, popularly known as Al-Shabab. Members of the group invade villages, set houses on fire, hack villagers to death with machetes and loot their food. The residents of the villages changed their daily life for fear of attacks. Some do not sleep in their homes anymore and prefer to sleep on the beach. They avoid walking at night and some have fled to other districts.

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