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Police demand that journalist reveal sources

(MISA/IFEX) - The Criminal Investigation Police (PIC) in the northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado are demanding that journalist Jonas Wazir reveal his sources for a story published in April 2009 that angered local military officers. Wazir, a correspondent for the "Diario de Mocambique" newspaper, based in the city of Beira, has refused to comply, arguing that the police's demand is illegal. Despite being repeatedly summoned to the PIC offices, Wazir has refused to give any names.

According to a report by the Maputo-based daily "Noticias", the article published under Wazir's name on 21 April concerned illicit charges made by officers at the military recruitment centre in the Cabo Delgado provincial capital, Pemba. Upon turning 18 years old, all Mozambique citizens have a legal obligation to register for military service. Wazir discovered that some military officers were charging young Mozambicans 50 meticais (approx. US$2) each as a registration fee for a service that is free of charge. In his article, Wazir mentioned the name of one of the recruiting officers, Dinis Mirole. On 4 May, Mirole burst into the school where Wazir is a part-time teacher and threatened him. "The consequences that will flow from the story you wrote will be entirely your responsibility," he said. Mirole filed a complaint with the local prosecutor's office and the PIC has been harassing Wazir for three weeks, demanding to know the names of his sources.

The 1991 press law explicitly defends the right of journalists not to reveal their sources. The clause reads: "It is recognized that journalists have a right of professional secrecy with regard to the origins of the information that they transmit or broadcast, and they shall not suffer any sanctions for remaining silent." MISA-Mozambique has denounced the "illegal intimidation of journalists," and has urged Wazir not to give in to the demands.

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