Angolan authorities must drop the charge of “rebellion” against human rights activist José Marcos Mavungo and immediately and unconditionally free him, Amnesty International said today ahead of the court’s final decision on his case on September 14, 2015.
“The trial against José Marcos Mavungo had nothing to do with justice. Instead it was designed to silence him and intimidate other human rights defenders in Angola,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for Southern Africa.
“This trial is indicative of the shrinking human rights space in the country and Angolan authorities must release him and stop intimidating dissenting voices.”
José Marcos Mavungo, who spent six months in pre-trial detention, was charged with “rebellion” after he was arrested on March 14, 2015 for helping to organize a peaceful demonstration against bad governance in Cabinda Province.
Amnesty International considers him to be a prisoner of conscience.
During his trial in August, the General Sub-Prosecutor in Cabinda, Antonio Nito, asked for a 12-year jail term, the maximum penalty allowed by law.
“José Marcos Mavungo was arrested solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression, association and assembly. He should not have spent a single day in prison.” said Deprose Muchena.
“Angolan authorities should encourage the healthy exchange of views instead of governing the country by entrenching fear and silencing government critics.”
José Marcos Mavungo’s trial took place between August 26-28, 2015.
The Angolan government has become increasingly intolerant of dissenting views. Those who speak out against President José Eduardo dos Santos have been subjected to extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearance, arbitrary detention and torture.
Despite freedom of expression and peaceful assembly being clearly enshrined in the country’s constitution and in several international treaties that Angola is a state party to, violations of these rights continue to be committed on a regular basis.