Constitutional Provisions

According to Article 40(1) of the 2004 Constitution of Mozambique (as amended through August 2023):

All citizens shall have the right to life and to physical and moral integrity, and they shall not be subjected to torture or to cruel or inhuman treatment. 

Article 43 provides that the "constitutional principles in respect of fundamental rights shall be interpreted and integrated in harmony with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and with the African Charter of Human and Peoples Rights". 

Article 51 provides that: "All citizens shall have the right to freedom of assembly and demonstration, within the terms of the law." According to Article 295, however, the right to freedom of assembly and demonstration may be suspended under a state of siege or state of emergency.

Chapter II of Title XII of the Constitution addresses the police. Article 253(1) determines that the function of the Police,

in collaboration with other State institutions, shall be to guarantee law and order, to safeguard the security of persons and property, to keep public peace and to ensure respect for the democratic rule of law and the strict observance of the fundamental rights and freedoms of citizens.

Article 253(3) provides that: 

In the exercise of its functions, the Police shall owe obedience to the law and shall serve citizens and public and private institutions with impartiality and independence.

Treaty Adherence

Global Treaties

Adherence to Selected Human Rights Treaties
1966 Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) State Party
ICCPR Optional Protocol 1 Not party
1984 Convention against Torture (CAT) State Party
Competence of CAT Committee to receive individual complaints No
CAT Optional Protocol 1  State Party
Adherence to International Criminal Law Treaties
1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Signatory

Regional Treaties

Adherence to Regional Human Rights Treaties
1981 African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights State Party
1998 Protocol to the African Charter on the African Court State Party
Article 34(6) declaration regarding individual petitions No
Adherence to International Criminal Law Treaties at Regional Level
Malabo Protocol on the African Court of Justice and Human Rights Signatory

National Legislation

Police Use of Force

The Police of the Republic of Mozambique (PRM) is regulated by Law 16/2013 of 12 August 2013 and is considered a paramilitary force under the Ministry that oversees the area of public order and security. In Mozambique, the rules on police use of force are set out in the 1999 Police Statute and Disciplinary Regulation. Under the Police Statute, the police are required to act with the strictest respect for the Constitution and laws of the country. This includes the human rights provisions contained in the Constitution.

Article 33 of Law 16/2013 establishes that:

1. In the event of any illegitimate resistance to PRM members in the exercise of their duties or of a disturbance of public order and tranquillity, the use of force and means that are strictly necessary and proportionate to the resistance are permitted where other means of persuasion are not sufficient.

2. The use of coercive means is permitted, especially in the following cases:
a) to repel an unlawful aggression, ongoing or imminent, of protected legal interests, in self-defence or defence of a third party;
b) to overcome resistance to the execution of a service in the exercise of their functions, after having issued a formal warning about compliance and having exhausted other means of achieving this; 
c) to make arrests, in the precise terms laid down in criminal procedural legislation.

3. The use of coercive means shall comply with the principles of necessity, proportionality, and reasonableness.

Article 73 of the 1999 Police Statute Decree provides that a police officer

may only use force and firearms in situations where there is a reasonably serious risk to the officer’s life or physical integrity, or those of third persons, or in circumstances in which it may be supposed that there is a serious risk to public security, and in conformity with the principles [of opportunity, appropriateness and proportionality].

This is more permissive than international law allows, which restricts police use of firearms to situations where it is necessary to defend people against imminent threat of death or serious injury or to prevent a grave threat to life. Intentional lethal force ("shooting to kill") is only lawful when it is strictly unavoidable in order to protect life.

Police Oversight

Decree 84/2014 approved the Disciplinary Regulations of the Police.  According to its Article 11, “members who violate the duties set out in these regulations, abuse their rights and their functions ... shall be sanctioned, without prejudice to criminal or civil proceedings”. Article 12 provides that “the disciplinary sanction is applied by the competent officer in relation to his subordinates within the sector he manages”.

In addition, a Council of Ethics and Discipline was established under the Police Act, as “an advisory body on ethics and discipline, reporting directly to the Commanding General”.Art. 36, Estatuto Orgânico da Polícia da República de Moçambique, Decree 58/2019 of 1 July 2019.

In terms of external control, there is no independent civilian police oversight body, but the Constitution provides for the office of Ombudsman (Provedor de Justiça) "to guarantee the rights of citizens and to uphold legality and justice in the actions of the Public Administration". Thus:

1. The Ombudsman assesses cases submitted to him, without decision-making powers, and makes recommendations to the competent bodies to remedy or prevent illegalities or injustices.

2. If the Ombudsman's investigations lead to the presumption that the public administration has committed errors, irregularities or serious violations, he informs the Assembly of the Republic, the Attorney General of the Republic and the central or local authority with a recommendation for the relevant measures.Arts. 255 and 258, 2004 Constitution of Mozambique (as amended).



Views and Concluding Observations of United Nations Treaty Bodies

In its 2013 Concluding Observations on Mozambique, the Human Rights Committee expressed its concern 

at reports of instances of unlawful killings, arbitrary executions of suspected criminals, excessive use of force by law enforcement officers, and the use of torture and ill-treatment in places of deprivation of liberty, including police stations and prisons.

It was further concerned "at the lack of concrete and comprehensive information on investigations, prosecutions, convictions and sanctions imposed on those responsible and at the reported impunity of law enforcement officers involved in such human rights violations".

The Committee was also concerned

that the freedom of assembly and association is not always effectively guaranteed. The Committee is also concerned about allegations of arbitrary arrests and detention of participants in peaceful demonstrations, ... as well as the use of tear gas, water cannons, rubber bullets and batons by police during demonstrations.

In its 2013 Concluding Observations on Mozambique, the Committee against Torture was 

gravely concerned about allegations of unlawful killings, including extrajudicial executions, by members of the police during the period under review. It is also concerned at allegations that the police resort to excessive and sometimes lethal force, especially when apprehending suspects and controlling demonstrations.

In November 2020, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, called on all actors to take urgent measures to protect civilians in Cabo Delgado province, in northeast Mozambique, after an escalation of conflicts involving armed groups in the region. Among violations of human rights committed by the armed group, “there have also been reports of human rights violations committed by Mozambican security forces in recent years, including extrajudicial killings, ill-treatment, use of force violations, arbitrary detentions, including of journalists, and unlawful restrictions on the freedom of movement”.OHCHR, "Mozambique: Bachelet appalled by escalating conflict in Cabo Delgado province", Press release, 13 November 2020,

In its List of issues prior to the submission of the second periodic report of Mozambique, the Human Rights Committee asked the government to 

report on the complaint and investigations mechanisms and on investigations and criminal proceedings initiated in connection with serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law, notably arbitrary detentions without judicial review, unlawful killings, acts of torture and other ill-treatment, enforced disappearances and cases of extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions committed both by insurgents and members of the Mozambican security forces. In this connection, please report on the investigations carried out into the deaths of Roberto Mussa Ambasse and Muemede Suleimane Jumbe, who were allegedly arrested by members of the security forces on 11 March 2020 and were later found dead. 

The Committee asked Mozambique to 

provide information on the current legislative framework on the use of force, firearms and less-lethal weapons by law enforcement officers and its compatibility with the Covenant, the Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials and the United Nations Human Rights Guidance on Less-Lethal Weapons in Law Enforcement. Please indicate whether the State party has established an independent accountability mechanism that receives and investigates allegations of excessive use of force by law enforcement and security forces.Human Rights Committee, List of issues prior to submission of the second periodic report of Mozambique, UN doc. CCPR/C/MOZ/QPR/2, 19 August 2021, paras. 9-10.


In 2021, the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights declared that it was “deeply concerned about the reports received of massive human rights violations such as mass killings of civilians, torture, ill-treatment and extrajudicial executions, beatings, harassment and extortion … in the northern region of Mozambique”. It issued a resolution calling on the authorities to "cease mass killings, extrajudicial and arbitrary executions, to grant protection to civilians and to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators of the violations"; and to "take measures to ensure, the protection of the right to life, the guarantee of human dignity, the protection of children and women, as well as internally displaced persons on the continent, the prevention of torture and the prevention of extrajudicial and arbitrary executions".African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, ACHPR/Res. 477 (LXVIII) 2021, 4 May 2021, at:

In its Consolidated Periodic Reports for the period of 2015 to 2021, the government recognized that 

Lately, cases of excessive use of force, torture, extrajudicial executions and other human rights violations by the law and order authorities (police and prison guards) have been reported in the country.… [R]ecourse to these practices, whether by the population or carried out by law and order agents or prison officers, is considered a crime, because everyone is subject to the law and to strict respect for human rights, as established in the Constitution.

It claimed that

all criminal cases committed by law enforcement officers, including prison staff, have been brought before the courts and have been dealt with in accordance with the Law. The cases proved through the investigation result in the criminal, civil and disciplinary accountability of the agents involved. … Moreover, all law enforcement and prison staff receive throughout their professional career specific training and instructions on the respect for human rights and above all for the right to life and safety during their actions. These professionals are aware of the use of force and the constitutional and legal principles relating to appropriateness, necessity and proportionality.Republic of Mozambique, Report from the Government of the Republic of Mozambique pursuant to article 62 of the ACHPR (consolidated report 2015 to 2021), Maputo, December 2022, paras. 94-98.


In its World Report 2024 on Mozambique, Human Rights Watch affirmed that in the course of 2023 “State security forces used lethal force and arbitrary arrests and detentions to limit people’s right to peaceful protest across the country”. The organization also reported the involvement of the police in election-related violence, affirming that "following the elections, police clashed with opposition party members across the country. They used excessive force and fired tear gas at crowds of opposition supporters backing the political party RENAMO, who were in the streets to either contest the results or to peacefully celebrate non-official results in Nampula, Cuamba, Moatize, and Vilankulos municipalities".

Amnesty International also reported the use of lethal force by the police against protesters in 2023, emphasising that

Mozambican authorities must comply with international standards governing the conduct of law enforcement officials and the use of force and firearms.  They must also conduct prompt, thorough, impartial, independent, transparent and effective investigations into these allegations including the case of the officers who shot and killed protesters, including minors, as well as all other incidents of excessive use of force, and ensure that those suspected to be responsible are brought to justice in fair trials. Victims must be provided with access to justice and effective remedies.


2004 Constitution of Mozambique (as amended) (English translation)

1999 Police Statute (Portuguese original)

Mozambique Police Statute Decree (1999) (Portuguese original)

Law 16/2013 of Mozambique (Portuguese original)

Human Rights Committee Concluding Observations on Mozambique (2013)

Committee against Torture Concluding Observations on Mozambique (2013)

ACHPR Concluding Observations on Mozambique (2014)

Amnesty Report Licence to Kill