Police in Mozambique have been accused of killing and torturing people with near total impunity.
The human rights group Amnesty International has published a report saying the Mozambique police appear to think they have a licence to kill.
The group says officials have responded to rising crime rates with often lethal force, but that they almost never face criminal proceedings.
Police in the southern African nation refused to comment on the report.
Amnesty’s report was published just a day after Mozambique’s League for Human Rights said the country’s human rights situation had deteriorated in 2008.
“Police in Mozambique seem to think they have a licence to kill and the weak police accountability system allows for this,” said Michelle Kagari, deputy director of Amnesty’s Africa Programme, in the report, entitled “Licence to Kill”.
“In almost all cases of human rights violations by police – including unlawful killings – no investigation into the case and no disciplinary action against those responsible has been undertaken, nor has any police officer been prosecuted.”
Amnesty’s report highlights individual cases including that of Afonso Penicela, who was allegedly grabbed from his home by police, beaten up, shot in the back of the neck and set on fire.
He survived long enough to tell his family what had happened to him, before dying in hospital from his injuries.
No police officer has been arrested over Mr Penicela’s death.
In February, police opened fire on a group of people protesting in the capital Maputo about increased transport fares, Amnesty’s report says.
Three people were killed and around 30 injured in the incident.
Amnesty has recommended urgent changes to police codes to bring them into line with international standards.