Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders Annual Report 2006 - Angola
|Publisher||International Federation for Human Rights|
|Publication Date||14 March 2007|
|Cite as||International Federation for Human Rights, Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders Annual Report 2006 - Angola, 14 March 2007, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48747ccda4.html [accessed 24 May 2015]|
Dissolution of Mpalabanda and judicial proceedings against Messrs. Raul Manuel Danda and Agostinho Chicaia1
Since the Civic Association of Cabinda – Mpalabanda (Associação Cívica de Cabinda – Mpalabanda) was created in 2003, its members have regularly been harassed and threatened, in particular following the publication of three separate reports documenting human rights violations in the Cabinda region in 2003, 2004 and 2005. During 2006, this harassment has been on the increase.
Indeed, on January 29, 2006, a peace march organised by Mpalabanda on the occasion of the 121st anniversary of the Simulambuco Treaty2 was banned by the authorities. On the same day, the homes of the main leaders of the organisation were surrounded by anti-riot police forces.
On June 19, 2006, Mr. Agostinho Chicaia, Mpalabanda director, was summoned to appear before the Commercial Court of Cabinda where he was informed that the government had submitted a request to ban the association, accusing its members of inciting the population to "violence and hatred" and of "pursuing a political agenda rather than being involved in human rights activities". Mpalabanda was given ten days to submit a responding affidavit, which was subsequently duly delivered.
On July 24, 2006, Mpalabanda was informed of a court decision dated July 20, 2006 ordering its ban. The organisation initiated an appeal against this verdict to the Supreme Court.
On September 14, 2006, pending appeal, the Governor of the Cabinda Province ordered the dissolution of the organisation, the freezing of its assets, and had its premises sealed off.
In addition, Messrs. Chicaia and Raul Manuel Danda, a journalist and spokesperson for Mpalabanda, were arbitrarily arrested by the provincial criminal investigation police upon their arrival at Cabinda airport on September 29, 2006. They were just returning from Luanda where Mr. Danda usually lives. Police officers searched Mr. Danda's belongings and seized various documents relating to the ongoing conflict in the Cabinda region written by Mr. Danda and other journalists. Some of these articles had been published by several national newspapers. The Provincial Criminal Investigation Directorate then alleged that Mr. Danda was in possession of documents calling for the secession of the Cabinda province and containing statements "injurious to the President of the Republic".
On the same day, the police forcibly dispersed about 30 persons demonstrating against Messrs. Danda and Chicaia's arrest by shooting bullets in the air.
Mr. Chicaia was reportedly released a few days later.
Mr. Danda was initially held without charge at the headquarters of the provincial criminal investigation police in the city of Cabinda. He appeared before the Attorney General on October 2, 2006, and was formally charged with "instigating, inciting and condoning crimes against State security" the next day, then immediately transferred to the Cabinda civil prison. According to the Law No. 22-C/92 on State Security, he faces a two-year prison sentence. Judicial proceedings were also reportedly initiated against Mr. Chicaia under the same charges.
Mr. Danda was released on bail on October 27, 2006. He was allowed to return to his home in Luanda pending criminal investigation, but was forbidden to leave the city without the express permission of the Prosecutor's office.
As of the end of 2006, no date had been set for the hearing in Messrs. Chicaia and Danda's case. Mpalabanda premises remained closed down pending the appeal against its ban.
Finally, Mpalabanda's members have faced numerous acts of harassment and obstacles to their freedom of peaceful assembly since the association was prohibited; some of them had to go into hiding, while others were forced to leave the Cabinda Province for fear for their physical integrity.
1. See Urgent Appeal AGO 001/1106/OBS 134.
2. The Simulambuco Treaty was ratified on February 1, 1885 between Portugal and the Province of Cabinda, which was granted a protectorate status and autonomy from the rest of Angola.