Letter of allegation Concerning human-rights abuses in the village of Cateme, Mozambique
Introduction We, Justiça Ambiental are writing to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing, Mrs. Raquel Rolnik, due to the human rights abuses that have occurred in the village of Cateme, Tete Province, Mozambique. Cateme is a community that has been resettled by the Brazilian mining company Vale. The way in which this resettlement has been organized has multiple flaws, in which it severely degrades the living standard and violates basic human rights of the population in Cateme. With the resettlement, their right to adequate housing, food, access to water, access to means of subsistence, work, the right to culture, freedom of expression and peaceful assembly have been violated. The community has made several attempts of defending their rights by sending numerous petitions, letters and notices to Vale and to the Mozambican government, but the response has been weak. 716 families have been resettled to Cateme from four different areas of their original village, Moatize.
Submitting the communication: The non-governmental organization Justiça Ambiental (‘Environmental Justice, JA,) / Friends of the Earth Mozambique The alleged victims: The resettled community of Cateme, District of Moatize in Tete Province, Mozambique Perpetrators: A) Vale mining company and B) the Government of Mozambique
Background Vale gained the DUAT-certificate (Direito de Uso e Aproveitamento de Terra, Right to Use and Profit from the Land) from the Mozambican government in 2007, and was finally approved by the government to start extracting coal in Moatize in 2011. Vale occupied 22096 hectares of land. This area in which the coal was going to be extracted was inhabited by 1365 families, which had to be fully, or in part, resettled by the company. In 2009 the four “bairros” or neighborhoods
subsequently relocated to either the village of 25 de Setembro, or Cateme. The division of the communities was made due to the profession of the inhabitants.
People regarded by Vale as farmers were to be relocated to Cateme to get access to farmland. The employed persons were going to live in 25 de Setembro, in order to be able to maintain employment since the village is situated close to the city of Moatize.
The resettlement process started in November of 2009, and 716 families were moved to Cateme. Even before the resettlement started the affected communities raised complaints on being insufficiently consulted by Vale. One critique that was forwarded was that Vale only addressed the male Community leaders through their negotiations. Thus, the women have been excluded from the negotiating-processes and their needs have been neglected. Since women are considered the largest group of users of the land, their participation in such a negotiation-process is essential.
The hardships experienced by the resettled community in Cateme since 2009 are extensive. The machambas (farmland) that Vale provided in Cateme are highly infertile and unproductive. The lack of access to arable land consequently leads to poverty and threatens the food security of the community. The access to potable water is not sufficient in amount, and there are problems of shortage during times when the electricity is out of order in Cateme. The houses are constructed in a poor manner without adequate foundations and the walls have cracks, hence it rains inside the houses. A majority of the people that we spoke to in Cateme said that there has been a loss of living space with their new houses, which puts constraints on the way the families manage to sleep and organize their life. Furthermore, Vale promised that the resettlement would entail food-support every three months for the first five years, but this has happened only three times since 2009, one of the times was as payment for work done on projects in Cateme. Apart from this, the resettlement has contributed to a disempowerment of the women in Cateme, since they are more dependent on their husbands now due to the lack of access to arable farmland and alternative activities for income and subsistence. Cultural traditions and religious practices
have also been infringed upon with the resettlement, and this demands attention especially since a part of the resettled community could be claimed to be indigenous.
The landscape of Cateme is very dry, dusty and experience extreme heat especially during the months of summer, when temperature normally rises above 40째C. There are very few trees because Vale chopped them down before relocating communities, thus the access to shade in the community is scarce. Furthermore the location of Cateme, around 40 km from the city of Moatize, makes it very difficult to access markets and alternative sources of income, adding to this is the limited means of transportation to and from Cateme.
Until January 2012, the Cateme community had tried to raise the concerns through their communal leaders and by working with civil society organizations. The community sent several petitions, letters and notices to Vale and various governmental institutions, and called for the Mozambique National Assembly to intervene in order to resolve the situation. The government responded that they noted the concerns and will verify the situation. But there was no response from them. Because of the lack of response from Vale and the government, on 10 January 2012, the community organized a peaceful protest in Cateme against the way in which they had been treated by Vale, for their poor living conditions and for the constant violations of their rights. The Mozambican government responded to the protests by sending an armed police force, which shut down the protests with violence and arbitrarily arrested 14 youngsters. Two of the detained persons who remained for two days in detention were victims of torture and degrading treatment by the prison personnel during their time in custody. The events surrounding the January protests breached the fundamental right to freedom of expression, the right to peaceful assembly and the protection from arbitrary arrest.
The situation did not improve. JA along with partner organizations held meetings
with the Cateme community members in October 2012 and March 2013. Communities were outspoken about the difficulties they continued to face, as described below. Just last week again, on 16 and 17 April 2013, over 700 people, mostly potters and the relocated communities paralyzed the activities of Vale, in protest of poor living conditions that they are enduring as a result of their relocation. However, their situation is yet to be resolved.
About Justiรงa Ambiental Justiรงa Ambiental (JA!) is a leading Mozambican non-governmental organization that raises awareness and campaigns against development that has damaging environmental and social impacts in Mozambique. We support communities faced with social and environmental threats, through capacity building, information, technical advice and strategic assistance in order to strengthen their voice in the Mozambican society, and to elevate awareness of the public and the government of Mozambique.
JA has been monitoring the resettlement of Cateme since 2009. We have worked intensively with the community on several occasions, and over the years JA have developed a close relationship with the community, and key-actors within the community. During 2012, JA made visits and worked in Cateme on occasions in January, March, April, September and November. Already in 2013, we have made visits to the communities in early March and in mid-April. We worked and built trust with the communities.
A study on human rights abuses in Cateme From 27 September until 8 October 2012, JA performed a field-study in Cateme in order to collect information to compile this allegation. We monitored the situation in the community and conducted 14 individual and group-interviews. The interviews were semi-structured and entailed questions focused on the living standard in Cateme. The respondents were chosen at the site with the aim of acquiring respondents with a variety of age, and at least one household from
each neighborhood. We also aimed to speak to more women than men, keeping in mind that the women were not adequately addressed in the negotiationprocess before the resettlement, thus we interviewed 6 men and 8 women. The sizes of the interviewed households range from 4 persons up to 11 persons, with 8 persons being the most common size of the households interviewed.
At that time, JA also held a public meeting in partnership with the civil society organizations “Liga de Direitos Humanos” (LDH, or Human Rights League), “Associação de Apoio e Assistência Jurídica ás Comunidades” (AAAJC, or Association of Legal Support and Assistance for Communities) and “União Nacional dos Camponeses” (UNAC, or National Farmers Union). The meeting was held on 6 October 2012 from 07:30-12:00 and the room was packed. About 200 people, including women, men, children, babies, seniors, teachers and students, from Cateme attended the meeting held in the secondary school of Cateme. During the meeting, the organizations provided information about human rights and the constitution of Mozambique. We also held a discussion where the participants gave their opinions on the resettlement process and of everyday life in Cateme. Apart from the interviews and previous knowledge about the situation in Cateme, the meeting adds to the information that is the basis of this allegation.
On this visit, JA was accompanied by a German photographer, Gregor Zielke, and a German film-maker, Peter Steudtner. Zielke’s hard-hitting photos of Cateme appeared in The Guardian UK on 21 January 2013, available online at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jan/21/mozambique-promised-land-photography.
Steudtner’s film is not yet complete, in fact he returned to Cateme with JA in midApril 2013 for more filming. But on our request, he has graciously prepared three small video clips to accompany this allegation letter, available on the links below: https://vimeo.com/64707620 https://vimeo.com/64881862 https://vimeo.com/64914457
International Day of Rivers commemorated with Cateme communities On 14 March 2013, the International Day of Rivers, JA once again along with our partners LDH, AAAJC and UNAC organized a meeting in Tete. We brought together community members affected by Vale (from Cateme and 25 de Setembro), Rio Tinto and Jindal, along with communities that are threatened with displacement from the Mphanda Nkuwa Dam planned on the Zambezi River. The organisations and communities talked about human rights, mega-projects and false promises, challenges with the Land Law and the Mines Law, dams and the case of Mphanda Nkuwa, and climate risks for the Zambezi River. But in the most important part of the meeting, the community people shared their own experiences with each other. The people that are to be displaced by Mphanda Nkuwa Dam heard directly from Cateme communities struggling to get their rights. The people of Cateme were outspoken about the injustices they continue to face.
The human rights-situation in Cateme In this section we present the result and findings in detail from our field-study, and of previous as well as continuing knowledge till date on the situation of human rights in Cateme. The different aspects of an adequate living standard are presented separately to make the information more clear, although we recognize that the different features are connected and affect each other. There is also a section concerning the situation of freedom of expression and the right to peaceful assembly, due to the events of the protests in January 2012 and the continuous violations of these rights in Cateme.
Inadequate housing The houses that have been built in the resettlement are constructed in a poor manner, in the sense that they have cracks in the foundations and in the walls. None of the persons that we interviewed were living in a house without cracks.
One of the responding families have had reconstruction on their house twice but the cracks reoccurred each time, another household had reconstruction done once but had the same problem with cracks reappearing. One of our respondents also told us that their house shakes when cars drive by on the road close to the house, which demonstrates the fragile construction of the buildings. (See Annex picture 1)
The foundations of the houses are very low, and all of our respondents named it as one of the primary reasons why water leaks into the house when it rains. The foundations are about 25cm thick, and set on a plastic sheet on top of the soil (see Annex picture 2). When the rain falls and accumulates on the flat ground surrounding the houses, it enters underneath the doors of the houses. One of our respondents told us that when this happens during the night, she has to get up to clean and put her children to sleep on top of the table so they would not get wet. Some of our respondents also complained about the poor isolation of the windows, since water leaks through the windows as well. One respondent that had complained about the problem with water-leakage to government officials received the response that the school building could offer additional sleeping space when this occurs. Depending on where you live, it could be quite a walk to take to reach the school given the fact that the total area of Cateme is 3800 hectares.
Concerning the temperature inside the houses, all of our respondents said that the temperature inside the houses rises significantly during the day and even during the night especially during the summer months (between October and March). To cope with the heat, people have to sleep outside instead of in their houses. During the winter months our respondents claimed it to be chilly inside the houses during the night, and that they did not experience this in their previous houses from where they were resettled. The houses are constructed with thin roofs, which are most likely why they get very heated during hot periods and cold during the cooler periods. Another disadvantage of the tin-roofs is that
when it rains it creates a deafening noise, which in turn makes it hard to sleep as our respondents told us.
Eleven of our responding households perceived that there had been a loss of living space due to the resettlement, and that the space in the house is insufficient. One respondent said that they had two houses before the resettlement, and after the resettlement only one house. One family had constructed a barrack in their backyard to have more sleeping-space, and another family's 16-year-old pregnant daughter sleeps in the kitchen building of the house due to insufficient space in the main house.
Concerning the kitchen of the houses, it was initially constructed with an open front with the same type of foundation as the main-house building. 6 out of 14 of the interviewed households said that the kitchen leaks with rainwater as well, and that they were not satisfied with the construction of the building. Many families in Cateme have chosen to close the open front of the kitchen, by building a brick wall and installing a door. (See Annex picture 3) This is to keep the kitchen from entering rainwater, dust and to keep the livestock from walking into the kitchen. Some of our respondents said that they rather cook outside the kitchen, since it becomes full of smoke inside when cooking. Thus, the kitchen is constructed in an insufficient manner since it leaks of rainwater if the open front is not closed up with bricks, yet on the other hand it gets very heated and does not let the smoke out if the front is closed up. Access to electricity is poor in Cateme and for the households who had electricity before the resettlement their new houses in Cateme have electricity installed. However, the residents themselves have to buy and mount the electric cable in order to have electricity. Due to the poverty and lack of money in Cateme many households cannot afford to purchase the electric cable, thus they are without electricity.
The lack of access to fertile soil and means of subsistence Vale promised the communities that were to be resettled that each household would get 2 hectares of farmland in Cateme. Instead, they received only 1 hectare each. Another far bigger problem relating to the distribution of land is that with the resettlement they were only compensated for individual land-plots, and not the community land that one used to have. The community land is an important part of a community since it acts as a “buffer zone” between communities. It is sometimes mistaken as “surplus land”, but in reality the land is used by communities for various reasons. When the soils of “machambas” or farms are exhausted, the community land can be used for shifting the machambas in order to access fertile soil, it can also be used for grazing. Apart from the agricultural activity, the community land might also be used as a place used for cultural, spiritual and religious ceremonies. The area of Cateme was already inhabited before the resettlement started. Since the resettled community was only compensated for their individual-land plots, they lost their community land and thus the “buffer zone”. This has led to conflicts over land between the previous inhabitants in the area, and the communities resettled from Moatize. The terrain in and around Cateme is very dry and full of stones (see Annex picture 4). The sunshine is very strong and the conditions to grow anything in Cateme are close to non-existent. All of our respondents said that they had not succeeded in growing anything in their machambas during the past three years. Four of the respondents had managed to arrange other machambas that are located further from Cateme, but the rest of our respondents had no alternative machamba. This is the most prominent problem in Cateme; causing a lack of access to food. When evaluating the access to food and fertile soil five years ago all of our respondents claimed that it was better before the resettlement, both in terms of access to food-crops for subsistence and access to food-crops to sell.
The lack of access to potable water All of our respondents complained about the lack of access to potable water. The main problems with the water that we identified were that it is not sufficient in amount, and that there is a lack of water-security. The water is only functioning during fixed hours, approximately 3 hours in the morning and 2-3 hours in the afternoon. During times when the electricity is out in Cateme the energy-driven well goes out of function, and it can be out for as long as 2-3 days. Our respondents perceived the water as insufficient in terms of amount because there are too many people using the same wells, which leads to water-scarcity especially during the dry periods. In each neighborhood there is one electrical well and one hand-pumped well. The hand-pumped well does not function at times because of the drought, as told to us by our respondents and contacts in the community.
The households received some livestock from Vale, such as goats, chicken and pigs. However due to poor access to water it is hard to keep the cattle alive and well in Cateme and many eventually die prematurely.
The lack of access to transportation and markets Cateme is located around 40 km from Moatize. Before the resettlement, the neighborhoods Bagamoyo and Chipanga were located in closer connection to Moatize, hence people living in these areas would go to Moatize by foot to sell food-crops, fruits, firewood, vegetable coal or other products that the household produced at the former site. With the resettlement the community's access to markets has decreased immensely. There is a small informal market in the center of Cateme, however only a few of the people that we spoke to managed to sell something at the market, the rest of our respondents did not have anything to sell nor do they have the money to purchase the goods. All of our respondents perceived that their access to markets had lessened with the resettlement, and that it is very difficult to reach the market in Moatize.
There are two bus-trips per day from Cateme to Moatize, one in early morning and one in the afternoon. One of or respondents told us the bus usually is full when reaching Cateme, since it passes the community of Mwaladzi on its way to Cateme. The lack of space on the bus also makes it difficult to bring items for sale on the bus. Furthermore, our respondents argued that the price of the busride was too high and that the cost of the bus-ticket was one of the causes preventing them from going to Moatize.
After the January protests the government promised the community two machibombos (large buses), but until now they have only received one. The distance to Moatize and the lack of access to markets makes the community of Cateme isolated, vulnerable and deepens the economic poverty that people suffer.
The health-situation in Cateme During our interviews we asked questions on how the respondents perceive their well-being and how, or if, their well-being had changed during the past five years. A unanimous answer was that they are suffering from the lack of food and water, and that they worry a lot about their ability to persist. The only positive remark of the life in Cateme was one respondent telling us that with the resettlement she could spend more time with her family, friends and neighbors, since there is nothing else for her to do in Cateme.
Four of the respondents told us that they or their family members do not sleep well at nights, and that they did not use to have this problem five years ago. As been stated, many people choose to sleep outside due to inadequate space in their houses and because of the heat. An effect from this could be a heightened exposure to Malaria, but there is still no conclusive data on this. However, malaria was the one disease that all of our respondents anecdotally claimed had become more frequent with the resettlement.
Everyone we spoke to felt that they cannot provide enough food for their children. Some of the families claimed that their children are malnourished and that they suffer from stomachache and bloated stomachs from starving. One family admitted that some days they have to keep their children from going to school, because of the lack of food.
In relation to this, Vale promised to provide food-support for the resettled community every third month for five years. However, none of our respondents had received food more than two or in some cases three times during the past two years, and for some people one of the times being as payment for work done on plantation projects in Cateme. But strangely enough, these plantation-projects were carried out by the Mozambican government and not by Vale.
The water-scarcity and the low quality of the water are comprehended as a contributing factor for the illnesses and diseases that the community suffers from. Our respondents told us that they often suffer from headaches because of the heat and the lack of water and that diarrhea is more prevalent now than five years ago. All of our respondents perceived that the access to water had lessened with the resettlement, since they used to have more alternative watersources at their former sites.
After the protests in January 2012, Vale promised the community that they would get an ambulance for Cateme. However, they placed the ambulance in Moatize and not Cateme; hence the access to the ambulance is poor because of the distance between Cateme and Moatize. There is a health-center in Cateme, yet this health-center only meets the basic needs and in the case of an emergency in Cateme it would be crucial to have the ambulance situated in Cateme.
The disempowerment of women in Cateme All of our female respondents perceived themselves as being more dependent on their spouses now than before the resettlement. The male respondents also had the same perception of the situation of their spouses. The given explanation of the heightened dependency was because of the lack of fertile soil and the lack of traditional and alternative methods for income. Now the women in Cateme depend on their husbands to provide income for the family, through for example seasonal work that are more applicable to men than to women. Thus, the women are less independent in Cateme and the gender-equality is decreased. Three of our female respondents also explained to us that have to spend more time now to collect the same amount of money that they once gained through less time in their former site. Thus work is more time-consuming, and as an example the same three respondents told us it is more difficult to pay for the children's schoolfees even though the expense is the same as it used to be.
The right to culture and religious practices The resettled community could in part be argued to be of indigenous character, because before being moved they had inhabited their land for centuries and they were engaged in traditional subsistence agriculture for their survival. They also speak a local minority language specific to their original site. By â€œin partâ€? we refer to the population that were before living in the more rural areas of Moatize, since those who lived in semi-urban areas would have adopted a more modern and secular lifestyle. However, to fully understand the impacts of the resettlement on the right to culture and religion, the state should investigate the resettled communityâ€™s cultural background and traditions, in order to make possible the continuation of cultural and religious practices.
In their previous site the communities had trees and rocks of a significant cultural and religious meaning and they had a traditional cemetery that had been used for generations. With the resettlement the communities have been separated from their traditional practices and they have lost their cemetery. Some respondents
showed grief and sadness over the loss of sacred spaces, and told us that they no longer have a place to hold ceremonies and they feel they have lost the connection to their ancestors, whom they feel that they had to leave at the previous site. In Cateme they have got a new cemetery but the community is very skeptic of using it, since no one wants to be the first person buried there. The new cemetery is also used by the previous inhabitants of the Cateme area, which enhances the feeling of discomfort from using it.
The right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly Back in December 2011 the community of Cateme sent a complaint-letter to the District Government of Moatize, the District Committee of Frelimo and Vale Mozambique, urging them to resolve the problems of the resettlement before 10 January 2012, or the community of Cateme would organize a protest. The protest would entail stopping the train carrying coal from Vale's extraction site to the port in Beira, the train that regularly passes just outside the Cateme community. On 10 January 2012, about 700 of the resettled families in Cateme organized a peaceful protest because of their dissatisfaction of their situation in Cateme. As they had informed in their letter in December, the protesters stopped the train from Vale who had to back up and could not take its normal route. At 10am the ForĂ§a de IntervenĂ§ĂŁo Rapida (FIR, or Rapid Intervention Force team) arrived, after the Police of the Republic of Mozambique (PRM) reported not to be able to dissipate the people holding the manifestations. When the FIR arrived they brutally shut down the protests and the villagers fled into their houses to take shelter. The FIR continued their intervention by assaulting several persons and raided the houses by kicking in the doors. Following these events, 14 youngsters were taken into custody for about three hours at the local police station. 5 of the persons where eventually released, while the remaining 9 were transferred to the Carbomoc Prison (Cadeia da Carbomoc) in Moatize. While they were held in custody for two days and two nights, they were without adequate food and were submitted to torture and degrading treatment by the police. After an intervention by the attorney they were released from custody. Two of the persons detained
showed severe injuries on their bottoms and signs of beating on their bodies (see Annex picture 5).
Yet another example of the brutality of the FIR during these events was a man who was ill and disabled with blindness, who in spite of this was forced to accompany the FIR to the local police station. When FIR encountered the man at his house, they were informed that the man received medical treatment for his eye-illness at Tete Provincial Hospital and in Malawi, but ignored this fact and told the man to go with them. When the man rejected because of his limited ability to move, FIR assaulted the man physically and accused him of faking his illness. Eventually FIR sprayed the man in his eyes with tear-gas, which made him faint immediately. The man was then taken to the local Police-station where he was held for several hours until a relative was able to get there and prove the manâ€™s medical condition only then was he released.
During our interviews in Cateme we asked questions concerning how the respondents perceived the freedom of speech in Cateme, and if they felt confident to speak openly about the issues and hardships in their everyday life. Generally the answer was that they are not afraid to speak, but the problem is that they have seldom or never been given the chance to speak to either Vale or the government about their problems.
The community is currently trying to organize themselves and have formed a â€œresidents' commissionâ€? to forward the interests of the community. This is not well appreciated by the district government who accuses the commission of contributing to instability and spreading misinformation. One of the questions that the commission has brought up is that commission members, mainly living in the Chipanga neighborhood, do not want more repairs to be made on their houses. This is due to the fact that it would be the third time their houses would be repaired, and the previous repairs made have been insufficient due to reoccurring cracks. Instead the commission is requesting another type of
compensation, either monetary or that the houses would be rebuilt entirely. However, the Permanent Secretary for the Moatize District government and the First district Secretary of Frelimo called the commission to a meeting concerning its activities. The representatives of the government and the Frelimo party wanted to dismantle the commission, and told the commission that they couldnâ€™t hold any further meetings without government authorization. Denying the commission to hold meetings clearly breaches against the right to freedom of expression and the right to peaceful assembly.
But the people of Cateme are continuing to struggle for their rights. On 16 and 17 April 2013, over 700 people, mostly brick-makers and the relocated communities again paralyzed the activities of Vale, in protest of poor living conditions that they are enduring as a result of their relocation. On the morning of 16 April, they gathered in front of the Moatize district administration, in order to demand explanations and responses to the various concerns they have raised. They received no response from the district government, the potters decided to carry out a peaceful protest along the main routes of the company and its mine, including the railway line. Yet again they were attacked by the police with rubber bullets, injuring many. Finally on 18 April, the potters managed to get a meeting with Vale, and the protest was stopped. The process is ongoing and it is yet to be seen if Vale pays the remaining money agreed with the brick-makers during their re-location process.
Vale's broken promises Before the resettlement started Vale made various promises to the affected communities concerning the awaiting life at the relocation site. The initial agreement of the resettlement is from 2004, but until the resettlement was finally performed in 2009 the situation had changed radically. In 2009 when the resettlement process started the value of the land and the residencies had heightened tremendously, due to inflation in the area because of the investments done by the newly established multinational companies. However, the compensation that the communities finally received was the value estimated in
2004, and not in regard to what their land was worth in 2009. Thus, the resettled communities have not received a fair compensation. Adding to this is the fact that they were only compensated for their individual-land plots and not the vast community land that they once had at their previous sites.
Most of the promises that Vale gave between the years of 2004 until now are oral agreements between Vale and Cateme, which makes it hard for the community to prove what they have been promised. The initial agreement from 2004 is documented, but not made available to the public.
According to our respondents and other contacts in Cateme the communities were promised arable land, good infrastructure, transportation and food-support for the first five years of the resettlement. Vale promised that each household would get 2 hectares each of farmland, and 1 hectare for their house and yard. In turn, the households have only received 1 hectare of farmland and 1 hectare for the site of their house. There would also be various projects in Cateme that could offer employment. These projects have, according to our respondents, been limited and one project that we gained information about was a project administrated by the government with the payment of food-supply for the workers.
Valeâ€™s response to the January-protests was that they would solve the problems in Cateme within six months. However it has now been a year and three months since the protests and the situation in Cateme is still acute and little has changed. One thing Vale agreed upon was to do some fixing work on the houses to improve the foundations and repair the cracks. This fixing work has been slow and limited in amount of houses constructed, and as some of our respondents told us the reconstruction made on their houses have been insufficient, and cracks have reoccurred. About 142 out of 716 houses have been fixed by Vale and the company is aiming at finishing the total reconstruction of the 716 lots sometime in mid-2013.
The response of the Mozambican government Since the resettlement process started the communication between the Mozambican government and the affected communities have been insufficient. The Cateme community, JA and other civil society organizations have sent numerous petitions and complaints to different governmental institutions in Mozambique. As been stated, the government have been ignoring these communications and responded with silence.
Short after the January-protests a public emergency meeting was held with the governor of Tete, Alberto Vaquina, which JA attended. When asked about the excess violence that was used by the PRM and FIR, the governor responded that as far as he knew, the violence that the PRM and FIR used was appropriate to disperse the protesters. Members of JA and other participants of the meeting did not perceive the meeting as successful because of the neglect shown by the government and the lack of a constructive dialogue concerning the situation in Cateme and the other resettled community, 25 de Setembro.
In addition to this, it became clear during the public meeting held in Cateme on 6 October 2012 that the resettled communities have a limited knowledge about their rights and in what ways they can seek compensation and claim their rights. There has been a controversy between the government and Vale, concerning Vale's distribution of food-support. The government has declined Vale's distribution, with the claim that such distribution would be the governmentâ€™s responsibility. In turn, the government have only provided for food once, as a payment for people working on a plantation-project in Cateme. This project took place between June-August 2012 and is called â€œComida para trabalhoâ€? (food for work). The main problem with this project is that it really does not solve the longterm problem of the lack of food for the community since it is only for the duration of three months.
Legal actions taken by civil society groups In February 2012 the Mozambican organization Liga de Direitos Humanos (LDH) filed a complaint to the district prosecutor of Moatize, because of the violence that the people of Cateme were exposed to by the Police and the FIR during the January protests. The complaint also concerns the violence and torture that the persons held in custody at the Carbomoc prison were subjected to between the days of 10-12 January, 2012. Until now, it is not yet decided if the case is admissible or not.
A second legal process that was initiated by LDH is directed towards the Mozambican government. In February 2012, LDH filed a public action concerning the governmentâ€™s failure to fulfill their duties of providing for a just resettlement of the communities relocated to Cateme. The public action is still running its legal procedures within the first section of the Administrative Court of Maputo with Case No.79/2012.
Mozambique's obligations according to International Human Rights law The state of Mozambique is party to several core international Human Rights Conventions which oblige the state to provide for an adequate living standard of its population. Unfortunately, Mozambique does not seem to have signed the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), which is the most comprehensive international legal document that sets the standards for adequate housing, as a component of the right to an adequate living standard. The Mozambican government discussed the Covenant in a meeting on 11 February 2011 and the Mozambican Council of Ministers ratified a resolution determining the accession of the Covenant (see Annex 6). If the state of Mozambique has agreed to an accession of the Covenant, this would have positive implications on the protection of the rights of resettled communities such as Cateme, amongst others. JA requests that the Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing demand clarification on the Mozambican governmentâ€™s
adherence to the Covenant in light of the 11 February 2011 meeting document, since there are no available official documents that describe the process after that meeting.
Mozambique is obliged to follow the provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), and article 25.1 of the declaration defines the responsibility of the state in relation to the different aspects of an adequate living standard.
Apart from this, Mozambique is party to the following conventions that entail articles concerning an adequate living standard:
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)
International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)
Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)
JA considers that the Government of Mozambique has breached against the following articles, given the past and current situation in Cateme: The right to adequate housing, living standard, water and food: UDHR: Art. 25. 1 CEDAW: Art. 14.2 H) ICCPR: Art. 1.2 CRC: Art. 27.1 & 27.3 The right to freedom from torture or cruel and inhumane treatment: UDHR: Art. 5 ICCPR: Art. 7 & Art. 10 The right to religion, culture and minority rights: UDHR: Art. 18 ICCPR: Art. 27 ICRC: Art. 30 The right of freedom of expression and peaceful assembly UDHR: Art. 20.1 ICCPR: Art. 19.1 & 19.2
Conclusion and recommendations The resettlement of the neighborhoods of Chipanga, Bagamoyo, Mithete and Malabwe from the district of Moatize to Cateme, has been performed inadequately and has seriously degraded the lives and well-being of the resettled people. The houses that Vale provided for in Cateme are inadequate to live in since they lack of sufficient foundations and leak of water when it rains. There is no food-security in Cateme, and the population is starving because of the lack of access to fertile soil. The situation is worsened because people have few alternative ways that there is few alternative ways to generate income in Cateme. The community has not received the amount of food-support from Vale that they were promised with the resettlement, and the government is failing its responsibility to protect the population from starvation. The access to potable water is poor, insufficient and plagued by frequent energy-shortages and drought. Apart from this, the location of the community and the insufficient means of transportation make it isolated and further increase the community's vulnerability. The health-situation in Cateme is deficient due to the lack of access to water and food, the heated climate and lack of access to shade also contributes to an increased frequency of diseases. An ambulance was promised for the benefit of the community; however this ambulance is located far in Moatize and not in Cateme.
The societal structure has been modified with the resettlement, one effect being that the women in Cateme have been disempowered since the situation in Cateme makes them more dependent on their husbands.
The communityâ€™s cultural and religious rights are also being infringed upon with the resettlement, since many of the traditional practices that the communities were engaged in were bound to their previous sites. In part the community could be claimed indigenous, which would entail further protection of indigenous rights. Furthermore, the communityâ€™s freedom of expression and right to peaceful assembly have been seriously infringed upon as evidenced by the protests in
January 2012, and the current situation of frequent threats to the community by government officials and by Vale.
With the situation in Cateme there is a continuous violation on the right to adequate housing, food and access to means of subsistence, access to water, work, freedom of expression and the right to peaceful assembly.
We, Justiça Ambiental, urge the Mozambican government to take the following actions to compensate for the losses of the Cateme community:
For the government to without further delay resolve the problems in Cateme, described above in this allegation letter.
Make sure that Vale takes responsibility for the re-construction of the houses, fixing of the cracks and foundations, and that this is done in an adequate manner and without further delay.
Provide community members with 1 additional hectare of land as promised. The land given must be arable and fertile, and with proximity to their current homes.
Create conditions for alternative ways to attain income in Cateme.
Provide for continuous and regular food-support in order to end the acute starvation in Cateme. At the same time the government should make up a long-term plan on how to achieve food sovereignty and self-reliance in the community.
Improve the accessibility of potable water in Cateme.
The health-situation is worsening in Cateme. Research has to be made in order to evaluate the impacts of the lack of food and water. The sleepdeprivation that the community suffers due to inadequate space, elevated temperatures in the houses and having to sleep out in the open needs also to be looked into. This is especially urgent to investigate in regard to the health of the children of Cateme.
Improve and extend the means of transportation to and from Cateme and make sure that the bus-tickets are reasonably fared.
Investigate the community’s cultural and religious needs, and specifically look into the situation of the cemetery.
To monitor the situation of human rights in Cateme, and immediately investigate the case brought about to the district prosecutor of Moatize, concerning the brutality of the PRM and FIR during the events of the protests in January 2012. Secondly, we urge the government to proceed with the public actions that runs with the Administrative court in Maputo (Case No.79/2012)
Annex Picture 1: Cracks in a porch of a house in Cateme
Annex Picture 2: The foundation of a house in Cateme.
Annex Picture 3: A house that is being repaired. The kitchen building (to the left) is closed up with bricks.
Annex Picture 4: A woman is showing us the machamba she was given by Vale
Annex Picture 5: One of the men that were severely beaten by the police when being held in detention from 10 to 12 January 2012
Annex 6: Separately attached. An agenda for the meeting of the Mozambican council of ministers, 14th of February 2011, where the accession of Mozambique to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) were discussed. This document is attached in the original Portuguese as well as an English translation.
Letter of Allegation concerning Human-rights abuses in the village of Cateme, Mozambique.