Angola political detainees held under non-existent law
|Publication Date||17 January 2011|
|Cite as||Amnesty International, Angola political detainees held under non-existent law, 17 January 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4d392b6d15.html [accessed 24 April 2014]|
More than 30 Angolan detainees still imprisoned in appalling conditions under a vague security law overturned last year must be released, their relatives have told Amnesty International.
33 members of a group known as CMJSP-Lunda that peacefully advocated for autonomy of the Lunda Tchokwe region are still being held in Conduege prison in northern Angola, even though the sweeping security law that they were charged under was repealed in December 2010.
The now-repealed Article 26 of Law 7/78 criminalised "[a]ll and every act not foreseen in the law that puts at risk or put at risk the security of the state", and was open to misuse by the authorities to arrest peaceful political activists and even human rights activists in some cases.
A detainee's wife who spoke to Amnesty International on condition of anonymity said "The law no longer exists. How come [my husband] is still detained? If the law no longer exists they should let them come home."
"I'm asking the government to let them go. The crime is no longer a crime."
"We've heard others have been released so why should he remain in prison?"
"They should let them go so they can return to their families¦ They've left us suffering without our husbands¦ Their children need them."
The Angolan authorities have given no response to lawyer's appeals to free the CMJSP-Lunda members since the repeal of Article 26, nor provided any reason why they are still detained.
A few political detainees from other political organisationsHuman rights activists convicted under the law in other parts of the country have already been released since the repeal in December, but Amnesty International fears that CMJSP-Lunda members are being singled out for continued punishment.
The detainees are from a diamond-rich area in Angola's eastern Lunda provinces. Amnesty International has received reports of human rights abuses from this region.
During 2010 one detained CMJSP-Lunda member died due to lack of medical treatment in detention, and 37 members of the group faced near starvation and appalling conditions while detained in the Conduege prison in Lunda Norte.
"We welcome the repeal of Article 26, but the Angolan authorities must now release without delay all those detainees originally detained under this now non-existent law" said Muluka-Anne Miti, Amnesty International's Angola researcher.
The CMJS-Lunda was set up in 2007 to seek autonomy for the former Tchokwe Kingdom, which comprises the present day provinces of Lunda Norte, Lunda Sul, Moxico and part of Kuando Kubango.