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Journalist detained for one month, another journalist threatened by official over his reporting

(MISA/IFEX) - On 15 April 2009, MISA-Mozambique denounced the intimidation of two radio journalists in the northern province of Niassa, one of whom was illegally detained by the police. Felismino Jamissone is a producer for a community radio station in the Niassa district of Mecanhelas. He produces a programme on human rights, which has frequently interviewed Mecanhelas citizens who are severely critical of the police.

Jamissone was arrested in January, after a local businessman claimed that the journalist had stolen 60,000 meticais (about US$2,250) from his home during a New Year's party. The local prosecutor in Mecanhelas said there were no grounds for detaining Jamissone, but the police ignored him and kept the journalist locked up for a month, first in the Mecanhelas police cells, and then in the prison in the neighbouring district of Cuamba. He was only released when the businessman withdrew his complaint. The 60,000 meticais mysteriously reappeared. It had not been stolen at all, but had been kept "in a safe place" by other members of his family. Somehow it had taken the man a month to discover this.

The second case concerns Raimundo Matola, a journalist with the Niassa provincial station of Radio Mozambique, who told MISA that he had received a menacing phone message from the permanent secretary of the Marrupa district government, Domingos Covane.

Apparently Covane disapproved of a news item written by Matola and broadcast on 30 March which cited criticism of the Marrupa district government made by the Minister of Planning and Development, Aiuba Cuereneia. The Minister visited Marrupa on 26-28 March, and expressed his disappointment at the poor results in the district from use of the Local Initiative Investment Budget (OIIL).

After hearing Cuereneia's criticism repeated on the radio, Covane sent a text message to Matola's mobile phone, claiming that the journalist had "destroyed the Marrupa government", and that he had written the news item maliciously because Covane had not offered him any food. He ended the message with the threat that "things will go badly with you".

In a statement on these events, MISA describes the detention of Jamissone and the threat against Matola as "unacceptable abuse of power by the local authorities".

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