As Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi is in New York this week to chair high-level meetings of the U.N. Security Council, the IPI global network reiterates its call on his government to withdraw a controversial bill that could be used to restrict the work of civil society groups, which play a vital role in protecting press freedom and the right to hold government accountable. 

Nyusi’s visit comes at the end of Mozambique’s month-long rotating presidency of the U.N. Security Council, which began this March. It also comes as the president faces mounting criticism at home over the police’s brutal repression of demonstrators who have been marching throughout the country to pay tribute to the late rapper Azagaia who was known for being a fierce government critic.  

In February IPI called on lawmakers to reject a bill being considered in parliament aimed at fighting money laundering and terrorism as the country tries to contain an armed insurgency and internal conflict since October 2017. However, the bill, if passed in its current form, would give authorities excessive power to interfere with the activities of civil society organizations and could be used to further restrict the activities of NGOs that protect media in Mozambique.

IPI notes with concern the growing pressure that independent journalists already face in Mozambique, amid an unclear legal and regulatory environment in which the media operate as highlighted in our 2022 mission report. In that report, IPI urged the government to take concrete steps to demonstrate its commitment to press freedom and to ensure that journalists can work independently and safely. 

“Civil society groups play a vital role in fostering democracy and protecting human rights. Democratic governments must refrain from passing legislation that undermines or threatens their ability to do their work”, IPI Director of Advocacy Amy Brouillette said. “The government should not use the legitimate fight against the ongoing insurgency to undermine fundamental human rights and to cripple the work of civic society groups.”

Nyusi’s New York visit also coincides with the Summit for Democracy on March 29-30, in Washington DC, focused on strengthening democratic institutions, tackling corruption, and defending human rights at a time when democracy is dwindling globally.