Amnesty International Report 2014/15 - The State of the World's Human Rights - Angola

Republic of Angola
Head of state and government: José Eduardo dos Santos

Freedom of association and assembly continued to be suppressed. Thousands of families were forcibly evicted. A youth was tried and acquitted for criminal defamation against the President and the trial of another man for criminal defamation against state officials commenced. The trial of state agents in connection with the disappearance of two men in 2012 started, was suspended and then restarted.

BACKGROUND

In January, President José Eduardo dos Santos became chair of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region.

There were reports of sporadic political violence between members of the ruling People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola, MPLA) and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (União Nacional para a Independência Total de Angola, UNITA).

From 28 April to 12 May, Angola hosted the 55th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in the capital, Luanda.

Between 16 and 31 May, Angola conducted a general population and housing census. The census was the first since 1970, prior to independence. The preliminary results, which were released in October, set the population at above 24.3 million with 52% being women.

Angola’s human rights record was assessed under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in October.1 Angola accepted 192 out of a total of 226 recommendations made. It also took the remaining 34 recommendations under further consideration, including those related to freedom of expression, association and assembly.

Housing rights – forced evictions

Authorities carried out forced evictions on a larger scale than in the past couple of years. At least 4,000 families had their homes demolished and were forcibly evicted in Luanda province. At least 700 of these families were left without adequate housing. There were also reports of evictions in other provinces, including Cabinda.

From 20 January a reported 2,000 families were forcibly evicted from their homes in the Chicala neighbourhood of Luanda. The houses had been earmarked for demolition for two years. Some of those forcibly evicted were rehoused in Zango in Luanda, while others were given tents in an undeveloped area in Kissama, about 100km from the city. It was only in September that they received land and iron sheets to construct houses.

From 28 May to 6 June a reported 600 families had their homes demolished and were forcibly evicted from the Areia Branca neighbourhood of Luanda. It is believed they were evicted to make way for construction of a hotel. Armed police, including riot police and a canine brigade, reportedly beat those being evicted. Most of the residents had lived in the area for six to 10 years and some reported that they had legal title to the land. The families were moved to a location in the Samba district of Luanda and reportedly remained there at the end of the year in makeshift cardboard houses.

Freedom of assembly

Police and security forces used force or the threat of force, as well as arbitrary detentions, to suppress peaceful demonstrations in Angola.2 On a number of occasions police detained demonstrators and beat them before leaving them hundreds of kilometres away from where they were detained. In July, young demonstrators began demonstrating in the informal settlements as part of what they call the project “Movement for Demonstrations in the Musseques” (o projecto Movimento das Manifestações nos Musseques, MMM). Musseques is the colloquial word for informal settlements in Angola. According to the youth organizers, the movement aimed to peacefully demonstrate for better living conditions in the informal settlements.

Police reportedly beat and arrested young people peacefully demonstrating on the anniversary of the 27 May 1977 killings. About 100 people reportedly met at Independence Square in Luanda to demonstrate and call for commissions of inquiry into the 1977 killings, as well as those of three activists in 2012 and 2013. Police detained 20 young people for several hours and reportedly beat them before leaving them in Catete, some 60km outside Luanda.

On 21 June, riot police used teargas and violently dispersed a peaceful protest of the Teachers' Union, Sindicato Nacional de Professores (SINPROF), in Lubango and arrested 20 teachers. The teachers were demonstrating to demand overdue payment of their salaries. They were released on 23 June after acquittal in a summary trial.

Unlawful killings

Police and security forces continued to enjoy impunity for some cases of unlawful killings. Police and security forces were responsible for unlawful killings in various provinces including Luanda, Malanje, Lunda Sul and Lunda Norte.

In May, plain-clothed police officers identified as belonging to the 32nd Police Station of Kilamba Kiaxi district in Luanda reportedly shot and killed Manuel Samuel Tiago, Damião Zua Neto “Dani” and Gosmo Pascoal Muhongo Quicassa “Smith”. Witnesses stated that the youths had been in a vehicle parked outside a canteen in the 28 de Agosto neighbourhood of Kilamba Kiaxi. The police stopped beside the vehicle and reportedly fired shots at it. Manuel Samuel Tiago’s brother, who witnessed the scene, reported that his brother had got out of the car and pleaded with the police to stop shooting, but had been shot by the police officer. An investigation into the case was instituted. No further information was available by the end of the year.

In July a private security guard shot and killed Lucas Tiago in Cuango, Lunda Norte. Police and private security guards were reportedly in the area carrying out an operation against illegal diamond mining and in the process Lucas Tiago was shot in the back. This resulted in a confrontation between the other diamond miners and the police and security guards. Police and security guards reportedly arrested 22 miners. An investigation was instituted into Lucas Tiago’s death. No further information was available by the end of the year.

Freedom of expression

Authorities continued to subject individuals to criminal defamation charges. The appeals of two journalists, Armando Chicoca and William Tonet, against their individual convictions for criminal defamation in 2011, had still not been heard.

On 14 August, Manuel Nito Alves was tried and acquitted of criminal defamation against the President of Angola due to lack of sufficient evidence. The charges were brought against him in connection with commissioning T-shirts with words deemed to be offensive to the President. He had been arrested by police officers and State security agents on 12 September 2013, when he was 17 years old, as he was collecting the T-shirts in the store where the printing had been commissioned.

On 19 August, journalist and human rights activist Rafael Marques de Morais was arraigned before the Luanda Provincial Court on charges of criminal libel brought against him by the head of the Intelligence Bureau at the Presidency, six other generals and the mining company Sociedade Mineira do Cuango (SMC). The charges related to a book, Diamantes de Sangue: Tortura e Corrupção em Angola (Blood Diamonds: Torture and Corruption in Angola) that had been published in Portugal. The book implicates the head of the Intelligence Bureau and the six generals in human rights violations in the diamond mines of the Lunda Norte and Lunda Sul provinces. Rafael Marques de Morais is reportedly being sued for US$1.2 million and could face a prison sentence. No trial date had been set at the time of writing.

Police beat and arrested journalists reporting on human rights violations. At least two journalists were detained for reporting on police activities.

On 2 February, police detained Queirós Anastácio Chiluvia, a journalist of the UNITA radio station, Rádio Despertar, as he attempted to report on shouts for help of detainees for a fellow detainee in the Municipal Police Command of Cacuaco. Queirós Anastácio Chiluvia was reportedly held for five days without charge before being tried and convicted on 7 February for insulting the police, defamation and working illegally as a journalist. He was sentenced to six months' imprisonment which was suspended for two years.

Enforced disappearances

The whereabouts of journalist Milocas Pereira (who disappeared in 2012), Cláudio António “Ndela” and Adilson Panela Gregório “Belucho” (who both disappeared in 2013) were still unknown. A trial opened into the disappearance of two men in the Luanda Provincial Court.

On 18 November the trial of eight state agents for the abduction in May 2012 and subsequent murder of Silva Alves Kamulingue and Isaías Sebastião Cassule was restarted in the Luanda Provincial Court. It initially started on 1 September and was suspended on 4 September as one of the accused, the Head of the State Security and Intelligence Service at the time of the abduction, was promoted to the position of General reportedly by President Eduardo dos Santos. The trial had to be suspended as the Luanda Provincial Court does not have the jurisdiction to try a General. On 22 September, the President revoked the promotion and ordered an investigation into the process of promotion. No further information regarding the trial was available at  the end of the year.

  1. Angola: Amnesty International submission for the UN Universal Periodic Review September 2014 (AFR 12/005/2014) www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/AFR12/005/2014/en
  2. Punishing Dissent: Suppression of freedom of association, assembly and expression in Angola (AFR 12/004/2014) www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/AFR12/004/2014/en