REPUBLIC OF ANGOLA
Head of state and government José Eduardo dos Santos
Police and security forces continued to use excessive force, including against peaceful demonstrators, as well as to carry out arbitrary arrests and detentions. Freedom of assembly was suppressed throughout the country. Two people were feared to have been subjected to enforced disappearance. Freedom of expression was restricted and the press was censored. There were reports of forced evictions.
In April Angola presented its human rights report to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
A new political party, the Broad Convergence for the Salvation of Angola-Electoral Coalition (Convergência Ampla de Salvação de Angola-Coligação Eleitoral, CASA-CE), was registered by the Constitutional Court in April. CASA-CE took part in national elections on 31 August, which were the second elections since 1992 and the third since independence in 1975. Prior to the elections, there were reports of sporadic political violence by members of the ruling People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola, MPLA) against the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (União Nacional para a Independência Total de Angola, UNITA), CASA-CE and other political parties, as well as of UNITA against MPLA. The MPLA won with almost 72% of votes, with about 40% of the population abstaining from voting. Although a number of irregularities were registered prior to the elections, observers judged the elections as free and fair. The results were officially contested by UNITA, CASA-CE and the Social Renewal Party (PRS), but the challenges were rejected as unfounded by Angola’s National Electoral Committee (CNE).
On 27 October, Media Investe, the company that owns the weekly newspaper Semanário Angolense, censored one edition reportedly because it contained a speech on the state of the nation by UNITA leader Isaías Samakuva which was critical of the government. Although printed versions of the newspaper were burned, an online version was circulated.
Police and security forces
There were reports of excessive use of force and arbitrary arrests and detentions by the police, including of peaceful demonstrators. Police also reportedly used excessive force against detainees, resulting in at least one death. There were also suspected cases of extrajudicial executions by police, including of seven young men found handcuffed and shot in Cacuaco municipality, Luanda. No further information was made publicly available regarding investigations into alleged past cases of human rights violations by police.
- On 3 October Manuel “Laranjinha” Francisco was arrested by police officers, who reportedly beat him during arrest before taking him to the 17th Police Station, Cazenga Division, in the neighbourhood of Luanda known as Antenove. Witnesses said police beat him at the station. The following day the police told his family that he had been transferred to the Police Command of Cazenga. The family could not find him there; they reportedly received a call later that day informing them that Manuel Francisco’s body was in a morgue in a Luanda hospital after having been found in Cacuaco municipality. His body reportedly bore signs of beatings, including a missing fingernail, missing tooth and a broken leg. Although the family filed a complaint at Cazenga Police Division, police authorities did not comment on allegations that Manuel Francisco had been killed while in custody, and nor did they state whether an investigation was being carried out into the circumstances surrounding his death. No further information was available by the end of the year.
Freedoms of assembly and association
Authorities continued to suppress freedom of assembly throughout the country. Anti-government demonstrations which started in March 2011 continued into 2012 and took place mainly in Luanda, Benguela and Cabinda. As in 2011, police not only failed to intervene to prevent violence against those peacefully demonstrating, but also reportedly used excessive force against demonstrators, some of whom were arbitrarily arrested and detained. Police further used excessive force during strikes, including by the Union of Health Workers in Cabinda, and during a demonstration by the war veterans of the People’s Armed Forces for the Liberation of Angola (FAPLA) in Luanda. No one was held responsible for excessive use of force and arbitrary arrests during demonstrations in 2011.
- In March, state media aired threats against anti-government protesters by an individual claiming to represent an anonymous group calling themselves defenders of national peace, security and democracy. Throughout the year, a number of unidentified men suspected of being aligned with the police infiltrated peaceful demonstrations and attacked demonstrators. On 22 May, a group of people meeting to organize a demonstration were attacked and beaten by unidentified assailants in Bairro Nelito Soares in Luanda. Also in May, organizers of demonstrations identified four individuals linked to the police whom they said were involved in attacks against peaceful demonstrators. Although police authorities claimed that investigations were being carried out into the televised threats and attacks, no one had been held responsible by the end of the year.
- Police in Cabinda used batons and water canon against members of the Union of Health Workers who had been picketing outside the provincial hospital between 30 January and 3 February. On 3 February police blocked access to the hospital for the strikers, who moved on 4 February to the offices of the Syndicate of Unions. Police beat strikers and used a water canon to disperse the crowd whom they said were unlawfully demonstrating in close proximity to a government building. Seventeen women and five men were detained and released the same day.
Freedom of association was restricted.
- The trial of 15 Presidential Guards from the Central Protection and Security Unit in the Military Bureau of the Angolan Presidency started in the Luanda Regional Military Court on 15 September. The guards were charged with “making collective demands” on the grounds that they had signed a petition on 11 September calling for fairer salaries, challenging the application process for junior officers’ posts and calling for improved social assistance in the event of death of immediate family. The trial continued at the end of the year.
Freedom of expression – journalists
Freedom of expression, particularly of the press, continued to be suppressed. Attempts were made to prevent publication of newspapers or articles which were seen as potentially anti-government. There were no further developments in the appeals by Armando Chicoca and William Tonet, convicted of defamation in 2011.
- On 12 March, around 15 police officers from the National Directorate of Criminal Investigation (DNIC) entered the offices of the newspaper Folha-8 and confiscated 20 computers as part of an investigation into the publication on 30 December 2011 of a satirical photo montage of the President, Vice-President and Head of the Military Bureau. In June, seven newspaper staff members were questioned by the DNIC.
At least two cases of suspected enforced disappearances were reported during the year.
- António Alves Kamulingue and Isaías Sebastião Cassule disappeared on 27 and 29 May respectively. They were involved in the organization of a demonstration planned for 27 May by war veterans and former Presidential Guards to demand payment for pensions and salaries owed to them.
>Housing rights – forced evictions
Despite government talks to improve access to housing, small-scale forced evictions continued and thousands of people remained at risk. Thousands of families forcibly evicted in the past remained without compensation. The government undertook in June 2011 to rehouse by April 2012 over 450 families in Luanda whose homes were demolished between 2004 and 2006, but none had been rehoused by the end of the year. In September, UN Habitat announced that it was preparing to sign a co-operation agreement with Angola to send a representative to the country to provide technical advisory services for housing in Luanda from 2013.
Prisoners of conscience and possible prisoners of conscience
Two members of the Commission of the Legal Sociological Manifesto of the Lunda Tchokwe Protectorate, Mário Muamuene and Domingos Capenda, who remained in Kakanda prison despite the expiry of their sentence on 9 October 2011, were released on 17 January 2012.
Despite the November 2011 conclusion by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention calling for the release of members of the Commission detained between 2009 and 2011, five members – Sérgio Augusto, Sebastião Lumani, José Muteba, António Malendeca and Domingos Henrique Samujaia – remained in prison. There were further reported arrests of Commission members during the year.
- On 12 February Eugénio Mateus Sangoma Lopes and Alberto Mulozeno were arrested and charged with crimes against the security of the state after police in Lucapa reportedly went to their homes and told them to report to the police station to discuss the Commission. According to the written Court Mandate, they were convicted and sentenced in June to 18 months’ imprisonment for rebellion.
Amnesty International visits/reports
- Amnesty International delegates visited Angola in April.
- Angola: Submission to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, 51st Ordinary Session, April 2012 (AFR 12/001/2012)
- Angola: Open letter to Presidential candidates, candidates to the National Assembly and political party leaders – a human rights agenda for political parties and candidates in the general elections, 17 July 2012 (AFR 12/002/2012)