MAPUTO, — Representatives of several prominent Mozambican civil society organizations have submitted a petition to Veronica Macamo, the chairperson of the country’s parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, calling on the Assembly to intervene in defence of freedom of expression.

The petition handed over here Tuesday was in response to the kidnapping and brutal beating last week of journalist and lawyer Ericino de Salema, who was abducted in broad daylight in front of the headquarters of the National Union of Journalists (SNJ) in central Maputo.

He was then taken along the Maputo Ring Road into Marracuene district where his unidentified assailants savagely beat him, breaking bones in both his legs. He is now recovering at a local hospital.

Speaking for the civil society groups, Zelia Menete of the Community Development Foundation (FDC), said that the organizations had decided to unite their voices in a demand for an end to intimidation. They want the Assembly and the government to guarantee the freedom of expression and the right to information which are enshrined in the Mozambican Constitution.

They noted that two years ago, political commentator Jose Jaime Macuane was also abducted and tortured. He received five bullet wounds in the legs. Macuane and Salema were both regular guests on the Sunday night chat show Pontos de Vista (Points of View) on the independent television station, STV, and were frequently critical of government policies.

So far, there is no sign of the police solving either case, and Menete warned that such failures lead to distrust in the seriousness with which the bodies of the administration of justice take attacks on critical voices.

Macamo promised to channel the petition to the relevant parliamentary bodies, and expressed her personal solidarity with all citizens who have suffered aggression.

The police, however, seem no nearer to detaining anyone in connection with the assault against Salema. he Maputo City police spokesperson Orlando Mudumane on Monday and Police General Command spokesperson Inacio Dina on Tuesday could only tell journalists that the police are continuing to work.