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Mozambique revokes decree that imposed exorbitant fees on journalist accreditation

Mozambique revoked the decree on May 20, 2020. STV Television, screen capture from YouTube.

In August 2018, the Mozambican government introduced new accreditation fees for journalists in a measure at that time deemed both in the country and abroad as prohibitive and damaging of press freedom.

The fees ranged between 30 and 500 thousand meticais (around 507 and 8,450 USD) and were mandatory for foreign correspondents and foreign and national freelance journalists working in Mozambique.

Still in 2018, MISA-Mozambique, a local media freedom watchdog, submitted a request to the Constitutional Council of Mozambique, the country's highest judicial body, to declare the decree that set the new fees as unconstitutional.

On May 19, 2020, the Constitutional Council issued a favorable decision of MISA's request, voiding the decree.

O Conselho Constitucional declarou hoje inconstitucional o decreto que impunha taxas altas para o exercício de jornalismo em Moçambique.

Trata-se do decreto 40/2018, que entrou em vigor a 23 de Agosto do mesmo ano. O instrumento impunha taxas elevadas para o exercício do jornalismo no país e foi publicamente contestado, não apenas por profissionais e organizações ligadas à comunicação social, mas também por cidadãos particulares e pela sociedade civil.

Entre outras, as contestações evidenciavam que o decreto limitava garantias constitucionais como a Liberdade de Imprensa e o Direito à Informação, elementos fundamentais para a Democracia.

Today, the Constitutional Council declared the decree that imposed high fees for the exercise of journalism in Mozambique to be unconstitutional.

The Decree 40/2018 was approved on August 23, 2018. The ordinance imposed high fees on the exercise of journalism in the country and was publicly criticized, not only by professionals and organizations linked to the media, but also by private citizens and civil society.

Among other thing, criticism showed that the decree limited constitutional guarantees such as Freedom of the Press and the Right to Information, fundamental elements for Democracy.

The decree was enacted in the lead-up two elections — the municipal elections in 2018 and the general elections in 2019. The delayed decision of the Constitutional Council to void the decree had civil society entities wondering whether the act specifically intended to restrict election coverage.

On Facebook, the organization Sala da Paz said :

O decreto agora tornado inconstitucional tinha um objectivo e propósito definido. Vejam as datas e confiram para perceber que não foi um simples acto de agravamento de taxas. Tarde, mas foi bom a correcção feita.

The decree now made unconstitutional had a defined objective and purpose. Look at the dates and see that it was not a mere act of fee adjustment. However, although delayed, the correction was good.

Borges Nhamirre, a journalist, considered the decision a cause for celebration:

O Decreto aprovado em 2018 foi revogado dois anos depois, como forma de “criar espaço para se aprofundar e alargar a reflexão sobre a matéria, com o envolvimento das empresas e profissionais de comunicação social”. Granda lata!

A Luta Continua!

Mas antes uma pausa para felicitar o grupo de jornalistas e ativistas que levou o caso ao Provedor da Justiça para ganhar patrocínio e submeter o caso ao CC!

Especiais agradecimentos ao Ericino de Salema que elaborou a petição.

The Decree approved in 2018 was revoked two years later, as a way to “create space to deepen and broaden the reflection on the matter, with the involvement of companies and media professionals.” Big joke!

The fight goes on!

But first a pause to congratulate the group of journalists and activists who took the case to the ombudsman, who sponsored it and submitted it to the Constitutional Council!

Special thanks to Ericino de Salema who prepared the petition.

The work to revoke the decree was long and involved several entities and civil society organizations, as reported by journalist Alexandre Nhampossa:

Excellent news by @borges_nhamire on [Facebook]: Constitutional Council revoked the decree that charged exorbitant fees for journalistic activity.

In the photo, some journalists who complained about the fees at the Information Office of #Mocambique

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