Conviction of academic and editor over Facebook post - a dangerous precedent

Mozambican authorities must immediately and unconditionally drop criminal charges against Carlos Nuno Castel-Branco and Fernando Mbanze over a Facebook post that criticised the then president, Amnesty International said today ahead of the court’s final decision on the case on 16 September 2015.

“The charges against the two men make a complete mockery of justice. Both men were simply exercising their right to freedom of expression by speaking out about the governance of Mozambique on social media and in a newspaper. That is clearly not a crime,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for Southern Africa.

Economist Carlos Nuno Castel-Branco is charged with crimes against the security of the state for publishing a comment on Facebook in November 2013 questioning the manner in which former President Armando Guebuza governed Mozambique. He faces a jail term of up to two years if convicted.

Fernando Mbanze, the editor of the MediaFax newspaper, is charged with abusing freedom of the press under article 42 of the Press Law in conjunction with the State Security Law for publishing Carlos Nuno Castel-Branco’s Facebook post as an open letter in the newspaper. The men were brought before the court on 31 August 2015.