Mozambique: HRD Adriano Nuvunga receives death threats (joint communication)

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The following is based on a communication written by the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders and other UN experts to the Government of Mozambique on 16 September 2022. The communication remained confidential for 60 days before being made public. Regrettably, the Government did not reply within this time period. If a reply is received it will be published on the UN Special Procedures communication database.

This is a shorter version of the original communication.

Read the full communication

BACKGROUND

Topic: threats by unknown individuals against Mr. Adriano Nuvunga.

Professor Adriano Nuvunga is a human rights defender and Chairperson of the Mozambique Human Rights Defenders Network and Director of the Center for Democracy and Development in Mozambique. Professor Nuvunga has worked on a range of human rights issues in the country, including exposing alleged corruption, promoting the rights of the Rwandan diaspora in Mozambique and protecting the right to freedom of assembly.

ALLEGATIONS

On 15 August 2022, two bullets were allegedly found at the front door of Mr. Nuvunga’s residence in Maputo while he was asleep. The bullets were wrapped in white paper, on which was written “Cuidado Nuvunga”, (which  ranslates as “Beware Nuvunga”). CCTV footage from Mr. Nuvunga’s property allegedly shows two men in plain clothing approach the property at 5.15am on 15 August and throwing two objects before walking away.

On discovering the bullets, Mr. Nuvunga immediately called the police stationed approximately one minute walking distance from Mr. Nuvunga’s residence. According to the National Criminal Investigation Service (SERNIC) whose officers also attended the scene, the bullets were from an AK-47 assault rifle.

Two years prior to this incident, in October 2020, Mr. Nuvunga allegedly received a phone call from an unidentified person informing him that a bomb had been planted in his home. He immediately phoned the police who promptly arrived, along with a bomb squad which searched his premises. No bomb was found.

Mr. Nuvunga provided police officers with the phone number of the unidentified caller, which remained active for a number of weeks after the incident but he did not receive any information as to the progress or results of the police investigation of the bomb threat.

CONCERNS

Without prejudging the accuracy of the information, we wish to express our concern at this act of intimidation against human rights defender Adriano Nuvunga. We are concerned that Mr. Nuvunga’s prominent and public work defending human rights in Mozambique may put him at elevated risk of attack from groups opposed to his peaceful activities. We are particularly concerned that this is the second such incident in recent years, and furthermore, that there was no apparent progress in the police investigation of the reported bomb threat Mr. Nuvunga was subjected to in 2020.

We are deeply concerned that this alleged threat may pose a real risk to Mr. Nuvunga’s life. In her report to the Human Rights Council in 2020, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders highlighted the link between the killing of human rights defenders and death threats, noting that “[n]ot all death threats to human rights defenders are followed by a murder, and not all such murders are preceded by death threats. However, many killings are preceded by a threat.”

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