Mozambique: Mission on Prisons and Conditions of Detention, 1997


The Special Rapporteur on Prisons and Detention Centres in Africa visited Mozambique from 14 - 24 December 1997; a visit which took him to:

  • Maputo (Central Prison and Civil Pnson)
  • Beira (Central Prison and Police Station)
  • Nampula,(Prison and Police Station)
  • Matola Open Prison
  • Xai-Xai (Prison and Police Station) and Macheva Prison.


The recommendations which follow are made after having taken into account, the burdens which Mozambique bear as a result of the long war for independence and the internal struggle between FRELIMO and RENAMO.

  1. Steps should be taken to expedite investigation of cases and trial of accused persons. This will reduce the burden on the state by reducing the number of ininates who are cared for by the State.
  2. Urgent measures should be taken to set up regimes and programmes for dealing with delinquent juveniles. If this is not done these juveniles will "graduate" into prisons on the attainment of adulthood.
  3. Alternative sentences, like community service should be explored and implemented to decongest the prisons and not disrupt social life of those who commit minor offences.
  4. The allegation of corruption against the police and prison officers are worthy of investigation for disciplinary action to be taken.
  5. Efforts should be made to discourage assault on prisoners, and guards responsible for it should be punished.
  6. The distinct impression one gets of guards abandoning extremely sick prisoners to die should be dispelled by, at least getting them to take such sick prisoners to the hospital.
  7. The harsh realities of life make a second look at criminalising street vending imperative. While this activity goes on with wanton abandon and without criminal consequences visited even on the elderly in Maputo, it seems immoral for the wares of minors, struggling to eke out a living, to be confiscated in Nampula.
  8. With a view to supplementing goxemmental efforts towards prison reform, Govermnent should encoul age NGOs to take an interest in prisons and prisoners.
  9. Where prisoners grow and tend fruit trees and crops, as in Maputo Central Prison their diet should be supplemented by the produce of their labour.
  10. The traditional method of making soap should be revisited with a view to manufacturing if for use in the prison. This can be produced at the Open Centres. It will also contribute towards the rehabilitation of prisoners at these Centres.
  11. Simple implements like brooms and wooden shovels can be made, again by inmates at the Open Centres, for supply to prisons for clean-up work.