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map courtesy CIA World Factbook; click for enlargement Constitution, Government & Legislation

Mozambique's constitutional Government, headed by President Joaquim Chissano, held its second general multiparty elections in 1999. President Chissano was reelected, and his party, the Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (FRELIMO), won 133 seats in the 250-seat Assembly of the Republic, with the remaining 117 seats going to the opposition coalition of the Mozambique National Resistance-Electoral Union (RENAMO-UE). Chissano and the leadership of FRELIMO, which have ruled the country since independence in 1975, dominate policymaking and implementation.

The Assembly is a multiparty parliament that provides useful debate on national policy issues and generates some proposals independently. During legislative sessions, the Assembly influenced the executive branch on some policy issues, and RENAMO had some limited influence on the executive. Opposition parties in the Assembly boycotted most parliamentary activities between February and November 2000 to protest the election results; however, they resumed full participation in February. FRELIMO and RENAMO-UE cooperated on a number of ad hoc and standing committees in the Parliament, and on several occasions drafted joint legislation that was supported by both sides.

Source: U.S. Department of State

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Courts & Judgments

There are two complementary formal justice systems: The civil/criminal system and the military system. Civilians are not under the jurisdiction of, or tried in, military courts. The law empowers the Supreme Court to administer the civil/criminal system; it also hears appeals, including military cases, although the Ministry of National Defense administers the military courts. Below the Supreme Court there are provincial and district courts. There also are courts that exercise limited, specialized jurisdiction, such as the administrative court and customs court. Although the Constitution permits the establishment of a fiscal court, maritime court, and labor court, none have been established. The Constitution called for the creation of a constitutional court, but the Government has not yet passed implementing legislation. In the absence of this body, the Supreme Court is tasked with ruling on issues of constitutionality. The Supreme Court also has original jurisdiction over members of Parliament and other persons who are immune from trial in the lower courts. Persons 16 years old and younger fall under the jurisdiction of a court system for minors. Through this legal channel, the Government can send minors to correctional, educational, or other institutions.

The President appoints the president and vice president of the highest tribunal, the Supreme Court. Supreme Court nominations initially are prepared by the Higher Judicial Magistrate's Council (CSMJ), the body responsible for overseeing professional behavior among magistrates. CSMJ members are elected by their peers, 4 are elected by the National Assembly, and 2 are appointed by the President. A list of qualified persons for the Supreme Court is submitted to the President. No Assembly approval is needed for other judicial appointments.

Source: U.S. Department of State

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Human Rights

The Mozambican Government's human rights record remained poor in 2001, and although there were some improvements in a few areas, it continued to commit serious abuses. Police continued to commit numerous abuses, including extrajudicial killings, excessive use of force, torture, and other abuses. Police officers tortured and beat persons in custody, and abused prostitutes and street children. During the year, the president of the League of Human Rights (LDH), a local nongovernmental organization (NGO), noted that the human rights situation in general had deteriorated in several areas, such as police corruption, brutality, and intimidation; labor strife, and other societal concerns. Prison conditions remained extremely harsh and life threatening; several prisoners died due to the harsh conditions. Police continued to use arbitrary arrest and detention, and lengthy pretrial detention was common. Fair and expeditious trials were problematic due to an inefficient, understaffed, and underfunded judiciary, which was dominated by the executive and subject to corruption. There were reports of some infringements on the right to privacy. The Government generally respected freedom of the press; however, unknown persons harassed some journalists during the year. News coverage by media outlets owned by the Government and state enterprises was influenced by members of the ruling party; however, the number and diversity of independent media increased, and their criticism of the Government, its leaders, and their families largely is tolerated. Human rights violations received extensive coverage in both government and independent media during the year. An amended law provides for freedom of assembly with regulations; however, the Government forcibly dispersed at least three demonstrations during the year. The police did not violently disperse demonstrations in support of the opposition. Both the Government and the law imposed some limits on freedom of association. The Government at times infringed on freedom of movement. Domestic violence against women, as well as widespread discrimination against women in employment and property rights, remained problems. The abuse and criminal exploitation of street children, including child prostitution, increased in urban areas. Discrimination against persons with disabilities and child labor remained problems. There were unconfirmed reports that women were trafficked to South Africa for prostitution and forced labor. Occasional mob violence resulted in several deaths.

Source: U.S. Department of State

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