The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) acting through the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa, Commissioner Lawrence Mute, has expressed concern about a decree published by the Government of Mozambique which introduced high taxes and licensing fees for journalists and correspondents of foreign media houses, as well as television and radio stations.
The decree imposes an annual accreditation fee of 500,000 Mozambican meticals (approximately US$8,630) on foreign correspondent’s resident and reporting from Mozambique while nationals who are correspondents for foreign media outlets will pay 200,000 Mozambican meticals (approximately US$3,400).
In addition, foreign freelance journalists will pay an accreditation fee of 150,000 Mozambican meticals (approximately US$2,600) while nationals who freelance for foreign media will pay accreditation fees of 30,000 Mozambican meticals (approximately US$508). The decree also raises broadcasting license fees for radio stations to as much as US$34,000, and additional fees for renewing licenses.
Commissioner Lawrence Mute said the decree imposes prohibitively high fees for journalists and media which will in turn undermine the expression and dissemination of information.
He cited Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights which guarantees the right to receive information, as well as the right of every person to express and disseminate their opinions within the law.
He warned that “prohibitively high fees may have the effect of closing media space, thereby undermining Mozambique’s obligation to implement Article 9 of the African Charter”.
The Special Rapporteur emphasized that the media acts as a critical avenue for supporting transparency and accountability in democratic society, and Mozambique should not employ extreme licensing and accreditation restrictions.
He advised the Government of Mozambique to reconsider the fees stipulated in the decree to ensure they do not bar the people of Mozambique the full exercise of the rights guaranteed by Article 9.