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Mozambique: Bill on Domestic Violence

(July 6, 2009) Mozambique: Bill on Domestic Violence

It was reported on June 29, 2009, that the Mozambican Parliament unanimously passed the first reading of a bill on domestic violence and sent it to committee for work on some details before it is put to a final vote. (Assembly Passes Bill Against Domestic Violence, CLUB OF MOZAMBIQUE, June 30, 2009, available at

If passed, it will be the first law in Mozambique to specifically address domestic violence matters. One of the interesting aspects of the bill is the categorization of domestic violence as a crime against the public, which means that there is no need for the victim to press charges in order for the state to prosecute an alleged perpetrator. (Id.) The bill also seeks to impose harsher punishment for the crime of domestic violence than the punishment imposed for similar actions; it proposes that the minimum and maximum prison terms applicable upon conviction for common crimes be increased by a third in cases of domestic violence. However, the bill does allow the court to impose community service in lieu of a prison term if it deems fit after assessing the circumstances of the family. (Id.)

The bill gives the court a wide range of discretionary power to make determinations, even before the start of a trial, to protect the safety of the victim's family and their property. The court will have the power to issue an injunction banning the alleged perpetrator from the family house, to suspend his parental rights, to seize any weapons found in his possession, and to prevent him from removing or selling any jointly owned property. (Id.)

Meque Vicent, Chairperson of the Assembly's Social Affairs Commission, who proposed the bill in accordance with art. 137(b) of the Mozambique Constitution, stated in support of the bill that it is not intended to disrupt families but rather to protect them from violence. He noted, “we have already legislated to protect children [and] now we should legislate to protect women.” (Id.)