CPJ releases new special report on murder of leading investigative journalist Carlos Cardoso

New York, May 21, 2002—The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) released a special report today calling on the government of Mozambique to step up its inquiry into the killing of investigative journalist Carlos Cardoso.

The report, “The Murder of Carlos Cardoso,” was written by CPJ Africa program coordinator Yves Sorokobi and is based on new interviews and extensive research conducted by a CPJ delegation that visited Mozambique last year.

Today, CPJ presented the report to Mozambican ambassador Armando Panguene, who promised to forward it to the government in Maputo and to convey CPJ’s request for an official response.

Death of a maverick

In November 2000, Cardoso was gunned down in the capital, Maputo. According to the report, he was a fearless muckraker who came of age during Mozambique’s struggle for independence and dared to denounce corrupt officials by name. In his weekly newspaper Metical, he also exposed the criminal elements behind Mozambique’s economic boom. In the process, many say, the maverick reporter put his own life in jeopardy.

“Everyone CPJ consulted in Maputo, from Cardoso’s competitors to senior government officials, agrees that Cardoso was killed because he was the only journalist who had the contacts, skills, and inclination to confront the ruling elite with evidence of its own corruption,” writes Sorokobi.

Stalled investigation

After some initial progress on the case, including the arrests of six suspects, the official inquiry into Cardoso’s death stalled. The report details some of the investigation’s obstacles: The crime scene was never secured; although several arrests have been made, no trial dates have been set; the only eyewitness police interviewed at the crime scene has disappeared; and police haven’t been able to determine a probable motive.

“It appears that investigators have not examined the possibility that Cardoso’s murder is linked in some way to any of the journalistic investigations he was working on at the time of his death,” the report says.

Meanwhile, Cardoso’s killing and the stalled investigation have had a chilling effect on local journalists in Mozambique—a situation that, the report predicts, will not change until justice is done.

In the report, CPJ makes the following recommendations to the government of Mozambique: Locate the eyewitness of the murder; investigate police conduct at the crime scene; determine what stories Cardoso was working on at the time of his death; and question anyone involved in those stories.