Angola - Amnesty International Report 2007

Human Rights in REPUBLIC OF ANGOLA

Amnesty International  Report 2013


The 2013 Annual Report on
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Head of state: José Eduardo dos Santos
Head of government: Fernando da Piedade Dias dos Santos
Death penalty: abolitionist for all crimes
International Criminal Court: signed

Forced evictions continued and hundreds of families were left without shelter. There were reports of human rights violations by police, including unlawful killings and torture. Little progress was made towards eradicating impunity. One police officer was prosecuted and 10 others dismissed for various offences. In Cabinda, human rights violations continued despite the signing of a peace agreement with a separatist movement. Human rights defenders and political activists were harassed and some were briefly detained, while a human rights organization was banned.

Background

In February, a cholera epidemic broke out and spread to all provinces. By the end of the year more than 2,000 people had died from the disease.

Elections planned for late 2006 were postponed to late 2007. However, voters' registration only started in November and only in a few areas. Opposition leaders and others expressed concern at the number of small arms, including AK-47 rifles, held by civilians (estimated at between 1.5 and four million) and called for disarmament ahead of the election.

In February the National Assembly approved a new Press Law, which prohibits media censorship and guarantees access to information. The new law abolished the article which prevented journalists from defending themselves in court in cases of defamation of the President of the Republic.

In August Angola ratified the United Nations Convention against Corruption.

Forced evictions

The Council of Ministers approved two of the four regulations for the implementation of the land laws approved in 2004.

Although on a smaller scale than the previous year, forced evictions occurred in several neighbourhoods in Luanda. Between January and June, there were several forced evictions in Cidadania and Cambamba I and II neighbourhoods. In some cases, the police, municipal fiscal agents and private security personnel used excessive force, including firing live ammunition, against residents who resisted the evictions. There were no investigations into the forced evictions or the excessive use of force by police.

In March, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing expressed concern about the persistent practice of forced evictions in Angola. He called on the government to comply with its human rights obligations and to address promptly violations of human rights.

In March at least 330 families from the neighbourhoods of Cambamba I, Cambamba II and Banga Wé, were forcibly evicted by police and private security guards who used excessive force.

• National police officers, private security guards and people in civilian clothes demolished 200 houses in Cambamba II on 13 March. They were reinforced by about 100 heavily armed riot police officers who shot into the air and on the ground. They also beat and kicked residents, mainly women, children and the elderly who stood in front of their houses and refused to move. A pregnant woman was beaten and started to bleed. A boy of about four was hit by a bullet in the knee. Nine people, including a 14-year-old boy and four women - Eunice Domingos, Amélia José Faustino, Aida Cardoso and Isabel Miguel Francisco - were arrested, apparently for resisting the evictions. They were all released without charge by the end of the following day.

• Also on 13 March, police and private security guards used excessive force when forcibly evicting families in the Cambamba I neighbourhood, where they demolished 130 houses. Police and security guards pushed to the ground and beat those who resisted the evictions. A security guard reportedly shot around the feet of a youth as he was fleeing. Then he and several police officers surrounded the youth, beat him with a hose and kicked him. Several people were arrested and briefly detained, including two members of the non-governmental organization (NGO) SOS-Habitat and four women, one of whom was pregnant and three who had young children with them. Several days later the police returned to Cambamba I and demolished the shelters that families had rebuilt.

There were several forced evictions in May in the Cidadania neighbourhood of Luanda.

• On 5 May, police officers and municipal fiscal agents demolished a number of houses in Cidadania. Two men, Rafael Morais, a member of SOS-Habitat, and João Manuel Gomes, a resident, were arrested. They were handcuffed together and kept in the sun for over four hours, before being released uncharged. A police officer beat João Manuel Gomes with a hose and Rafael Morais was kept without his shoes or shirt.

Policing and human rights

Human rights violations committed by police continued, including the unlawful killing, torture and ill-treatment of detainees. Disciplinary measures were taken against some police officers accused of committing human rights violations during the year. The measures, which included dismissal from the police force, were publicized. However, only one police officer was prosecuted during 2006, despite a statement by a police spokesperson that the dismissals would not preclude criminal or civil proceedings.

• In May police shot two young street vendors in Luanda, killing one. The police alleged that they suspected the two of possessing stolen mobile phones, and that one youth fled when they tried to search his bag. He was captured and was then deliberately shot and killed by a police officer. The second youth was shot when the police tried to disperse a group of people who had gathered and were protesting against the shooting. The police officer responsible for the death was reportedly dismissed from the police force in June. However, he had not faced criminal charges by the end of the year.

• In May police officers were reported to have tortured four detainees for several days in the Sixth Police Station in Luanda. The four were Mateus Inácio Martins, Faustino Penhafu, Zeferino Muipile and Santos João Francisco. The officers were among a group of 10 officers reportedly dismissed from the police force in June for various offences, including bribery, torture and unlawful killing.

• In August the Benguela Provincial Court in Lobito city convicted a police officer of the murder of Antoninho Tchiswugo in January 2005, and sentenced him to 17 years' imprisonment.

Human rights defenders

Human rights defenders remained at risk of persecution. In September, members of the Provincial Criminal Investigative Police (DPIC) arbitrarily arrested human rights defender Raul Danda at the airport in Cabinda city. He was unlawfully detained at the DPIC headquarters for more than the 48 hours allowed by law. He was charged with instigating, inciting and condoning crimes against the security of the state, and transferred to the Cabinda Civil Prison. He was released four weeks later pending trial, but his trial had not started by the end of the year. Raul Danda is a member of the human rights organization Mpalabanda - Cabinda Civic Association, which was banned by the Cabinda Provincial Court in July for alleged involvement in political activities. An appeal against the ban had not been heard by the end of the year.

Cabinda

In August the government and the Cabindan Forum for Dialogue (Forum Cabindés para o Diálogo, FCD) signed a peace agreement to end the armed conflict in the province. The agreement provided for the demilitarization of combatants of the armed Front for the Liberation of the Cabinda Enclave (Frente de Libertação do Enclave de Cabinda, FLEC) and their integration in the Angolan Armed Forces (Forças Armadas Angolanas, FAA) and government. It also provided for an amnesty for crimes against the security of the state committed in the context of the armed conflict, which was subsequently approved by the National Assembly. However, FLEC and other organizations rejected the agreement, saying that it had been signed by a former President of the FCD who had been expelled from the organization in April and that he did not represent their views. Following the signing of the peace agreement there were unconfirmed reports of fighting between FAA and FLEC combatants.

There were no known investigations into numerous reports of human rights violations by the police and the FAA in Cabinda, including extrajudicial executions, torture, rape and arbitrary detentions.

In January Francisco Banheva was beaten by soldiers who found him and his wife working their fields in the Mbata-Missinga area of Ncutu commune, disobeying a FAA order specifying the days that people in the area could tend their fields. He reportedly died as a result of the beating the next day.

In June, the new Catholic bishop, whose appointment in February 2005 from outside the province had provoked violent protests, took office. Following the swearing-in ceremony, police reportedly arrested 28 members of Mpalabanda who were meeting to discuss the establishment of good relations with the new bishop. They were released without charge later that day.

AI country reports/visits

Reports

• Angola: Call on Government to end forced evictions and excessive use of force immediately (AI Index: AFR 12/004/2006)

• Angola: Human rights organization banned (AI Index: AFR 12/006/2006)

• Angola: A step towards ending police impunity (AI Index: AFR 12/007/2006)