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U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 1995 - Angola

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 30 January 1996
Cite as United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 1995 - Angola, 30 January 1996, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6aa294.html [accessed 19 April 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.
ANGOLA

 

The Republic of Angola is in transition from a single party state to a multiparty democracy. The Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) has ruled Angola since its independence from Portugal in 1975. In November 1994, the Government signed the Lusaka Protocol peace accord with the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), led by Jonas Savimbi, ending 20 years of civil war. Under the auspices of the United Nations Angola Verification Mission (UNAVEM) and with the help of three observer countries, the United States, Portugal, and Russia, the Government and UNITA continued to implement the Lusaka Protocol's provisions for a cease-fire, withdrawal of forces in contact, disarming and quartering of UNITA forces, and the creation of a new national army made up of elements from both sides.

The Constitution was revised in 1991 to provide for elections and for guarantees of basic human rights, but the Government does not generally respect its provisions in practice. In 1992 President Jose Eduardo dos Santos received a plurality of the votes in Angola's first elections, which the United Nations' observers declared to be free and fair. The President and the MPLA, backed by the security services, continue to dominate the Government and to repress all opposition forces that they regard as a threat to their power.

The Ministry of the Interior is responsible for internal security. It exercises this function through the National Police and the paramilitary Rapid Intervention Police created in 1992 to quell civil unrest. The armed forces have responsibility for external security but have been primarily engaged in fighting the civil war against UNITA. While civilian authorities generally maintain effective control of the security forces, there are frequent instances in which the security forces act independently of government authority. Members of the security forces committed numerous, serious human rights abuses.

Angola is a war-torn, developing country with great economic potential from extensive petroleum and diamond reserves, rich agricultural land, and latent hydroelectric resources. Subsistence agriculture, the traditional livelihood for the majority of Angola's approximately 10 million citizens, continued to be severely constrained by heavily mined fields and roads. In mid-1995, 1.4 million people relied on emergency food aid in the world's largest humanitarian relief effort. Areas under government control suffered from hyperinflation, scarcity of consumer goods, massive unemployment and underemployment, and continuing pervasive corruption. UNITA-controlled areas reportedly experienced similar problems. The principal exports are petroleum and diamonds, which together with foreign aid are the country's leading sources of foreign exchange. Annual per capita gross national product is approximately $620. Most of the country's wealth is concentrated in the hands of the small MPLA, military, and business elite. The average monthly salary of wage earners is equivalent to only about $6, which provides most of the population with a very low standard of living.

As a consequence of the gradual implementation of the Lusaka Protocol, the massive extrajudicial killing that characterized Angola in 1994 has largely abated. Although there was some improvement in other areas, the Government's human rights record continued to be poor, and it continued to commit numerous, serious abuses. Government leaders cite the 20-year civil war with UNITA to justify allowing emergency considerations to override concerns over human rights abuses. Members of the security forces committed numerous extrajudicial killings, arbitrarily and secretly arrested and detained individuals, and routinely tortured and beat detainees. The Government did not take any effective action to punish abusers. Prison conditions are life threatening.

The Government restricts freedom of expression and freedom of the press and inhibits the free movement of its citizens both inside and outside the country. As a result, although Angola is nominally a multiparty democracy, its citizens have no effective ability to change their government. Violence against women is widespread. Children and the disabled continue to suffer as a result of the civil war and poor economic conditions. The Government continues to dominate the labor movement, and there was no improvement in the poor worker rights situation.

Government and UNITA forces are guilty of flagrant violations of humanitarian law in their prosecution of the civil war. Both inhibited independent investigations of human rights abuses in territories under their control.

Within the territory under its control, UNITA's human rights abuses included disappearances, arbitrary arrests and detentions, denial of fair public trial, violations of humanitarian law in the civil war including attacks on civilian populations, forced conscription of young children, and restrictions on the freedoms of speech, press, assembly, association, and movement.

Respect for Human Rights

Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:

a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

Politically and economically motivated violence by state security forces and common criminal violence are often indistinguishable in Angola. A large number of violent crimes including robbery, vehicle hijackings, assault, kidnaping, rape, and murder are committed by members of the military and police forces both in and out of uniform. Although much of this criminal activity is committed by poorly paid rogue elements of the security forces, there are credible reports that some of these attacks are carried out under orders from the Government. Moreover, the Government did not take any effective action to punish abusers.

On January 18, independent journalist Ricardo de Mello was murdered in an apparent political killing. The police had not divulged the results of their investigation by year's end. The April slaying in Luanda of United Nations Police Observer Raul Rubin Aguirre and the July 14 assassination of UNITA official and former National Police commandant Jose Adao da Silva also remained unexplained.

There were credible accounts that the Rapid Intervention Police summarily executed people caught in the act of committing a crime. Frequent gun battles between members of the military and police, and fighting among soldiers, police, and bandits in Luanda's streets, suburbs, and open air markets resulted in numerous civilian casualties.

The August 1994 murder of a well-known journalist and the July 1994 assassination of the Vice Governor of Malange Province remain unsolved. The results of the investigation into the November 1993 death of opposition politician Carlos Simeao were never released. It is widely believed that they were killed for political reasons.

The Government alleges that in April and May UNITA forces in the municipality of Dange Kitexe, in Uige Province, killed 27 people, mostly local MPLA officials and civil servants. The Government also alleges that UNITA forces massacred 28 civilians at Quibaxe. UNAVEM observers were unable to conclude investigations into these reports.

b. Disappearance

Reports by the Government and UNITA accusing each other of abductions, disappearances, and killings of civilians continued. Real abuses are numerous and serious, but whereas at the beginning of 1994 thousands of people were dying daily, the current rate of kidnapings/abductions/disappearances is in the range of dozens per month. Despite the efforts of the international community, there were no developments in the case of two persons associated with Africare, Vincent Douma and Oliveira Lembe, who disappeared in Cuanza Sul Territory in August 1994.

UNITA arrested two Angolan humanitarian relief workers in Huambo in mid-1994 for violating "state security." One was held incommunicado; the other was held without charge but was allowed visitors. When government forces recaptured Huambo in November, these two detainees had disappeared. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and U.N. agencies continued searching for them throughout the year.

c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

There were credible firsthand reports that the police committed torture. Prison officials employed by the Interior Ministry routinely beat accused individuals in Comarca de Viana, a prison on the outskirts of Luanda, to extract information and/or confessions prior to trial. In many cases, the police routinely beat and then release detainees rather than make any effort to prepare a formal court case.

Prison conditions are so poor as to constitute a threat to the health and life of prisoners. The Government and the National Assembly Committee on Human Rights have acknowledged that conditions are inhuman. Cells designed for 10 prisoners contain as many as 30 persons and are divided by open toilets and sewage. Many prisons, lacking financial support from the Government, are unable to supply prisoners with adequate food and health care. There are credible reports that many prisoners die of malnutrition and tuberculosis. Prisoners depend on families, friends, and international relief organizations for basic support. The Attorney General reportedly visited prisons throughout Angola and is attempting to improve sanitary conditions.

d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

Under the law, a person caught in the act of committing a crime may be arrested and detained immediately. Otherwise, the law requires that an arrest warrant be signed by a judge or a provincial attorney general, followed by a public statement of the grounds for arrest. The Consitution provides for the right to a prompt judicial determination of the legality of the detention. Under the law the prosecution and defense have a maximum of 90 days before trial to prepare a case. The Consitution also provides prisoners with the right to receive visits by family members. However, because of a scarcity of resources and the lack of qualified and motivated personnel in the judicial system, the accused do not generally enjoy the exercise of these rights.

In 1993 the Council of Ministers decided to transfer control of the judicial process and prison system from the Interior Ministry to the Justice Ministry, but the transfer had not been made by year's end. Interior Ministry personnel continued to systematically, arbitrarily, and secretly arrest and detain persons for all categories of crime for indefinite periods of time, often without any apparent intent of bringing the detainees to trial.

The number of people detained by the Government and UNITA for political and security reasons is unknown. In May the security police arrested opposition politician N'zuzi Domingos for allegedly defaming the character of Vice Minister of the Interior/National Police Commandant Francisco da Piedade Dias dos Santos, "Nando." Domingos was held incommunicado for a week and was eventually released in July with no charges filed against him.

The Lusaka Protocol provides for the release, under ICRC auspices, of persons detained for war-related reasons. In August in the first group the Government released 210 prisoners, and UNITA released 20. As of November, UNITA continued to deny ICRC access to another 20 prisoners who should have been released with the first group. In November the ICRC visited 213 persons still being detained by both sides; however, it only had continuing access to, and sufficient information about, 78 of that number.

During the exchange process, the Government detained 200 more people in October, and said it would only release them after UNITA released its prisoners. Subsequently the Government resumed cooperation with the ICRC, and the release of the Government held detainees got back on track. The detainees included 60 civilians who were arrested for engaging in alleged subversive activities and held in shipping containers in Uige after traveling to Uige from UNITA controlled territory. Most government-held prisoners of war had been released by year's end.

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial

The Consitution provides for an independent judiciary, but in practice the court system lacks the means, experience, and training to be truly independent from the influence of the President and the ruling MPLA.

The court system comprises the Supreme Court at the appellate level and municipal and provincial courts of original jurisdiction (the latter under the authority of the Ministry of Justice). The President of the Republic has strong appointive powers, including appointment of Supreme Court judges, with no requirement for confirmation by the National Assembly. As of October, half of the 16 seats on the Supreme Court remained vacant. The Court serves as an appellate tribunal for questions of law and fact, but it does not have authority to interpret the Constitution. The Constitution reserves this role for a Constitutional Court, a bench that remained empty throughout the year. Trials for political and security crimes are handled exclusively by the Supreme Court. There were no known political or security trials.

There are credible reports that the Government holds political prisoners; however, the number is unknown.

The Constitution provides defendants the presumption of innocence, the right to a defense and legal assistance, and the right of appeal. Amendments to the Code for Penal Process in 1991 provided for public trials, established a system of bail, and recognized the accused's right to counsel and to testify. However, the Government often does not respect these rights in practice. Municipal courts normally deal rapidly with routine civil and misdemeanor cases on a daily basis. Judges are normally respected laymen, not licensed lawyers. The judge and two laymen selected by the full court act as jury. Routine cases are normally dispatched by a court within 3 months. The verdict is pronounced the day following the conclusion of the trial, in the presence of the defendant.

UNITA has established a military and a civilian court system in territory under its control, but the Civil Code remains secret, and trials are never public. UNITA President Jonas Savimbi appoints the judges. The juries consist of male elders chosen from the community. Reportedly the accused has the right to a lawyer. In early October, UNITA announced its intention to execute 8 former UNITA members who had been summarily found guilty of murdering 10 people 2 weeks earlier. It stayed the executions upon intervention from the international community.

f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence

The Government maintains a sophisticated security apparatus dedicated to surveillance, monitoring, and wire tapping of certain groups, including journalists, opposition party leaders, members and suspected sympathizers of UNITA, National Assembly deputies, and foreign diplomats. The law requires judicial warrants for searches of private homes, and that law is generally respected in practice.

g. Use of Excessive Force and Violations of Humanitarian Law in Internal Conflicts

Consolidation of the Lusaka Protocol peace process resulted in a substantial decline in the widespread abuses of humanitarian standards committed by both government and UNITA forces during the previous 20 years. However, government and UNITA forces continued to rob, rape, and kill civilians. "Bandits" (a term also applied to rogue elements of the armed forces) were also responsible for many attacks against civilian populations. Millions of mines planted by Portugal, South Africa, Cuba, Angolan government and UNITA forces during the 20-year civil war continued to kill and maim thousands of people. Although both the Government and UNITA actively committed themselves to support demining programs, there were isolated instances in which local commanders in some areas continued to plant mines. Both sides continued to forcibly conscript children as young as 12 years into service throughout Angola.

Many roads were demined and reopened as a consequence of commitments by both the Government and UNITA to allow the free circulation of people and goods throughout Angola. However, in many areas local authorities and military commanders of both parties continued to restrict free and safe passage of local populations, humanitarian organizations providing relief assistance, and United Nations observers. Men in military and police uniform attacked and stole humanitarian aid from beneficiaries and, on a few occasions, also attacked and looted warehouses and road convoys carrying humanitarian relief supplies.

Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

a. Freedom of Speech and Press

The Constitution provides for freedom of expression and of the press, and specifically provides that the press cannot be subject to political, ideological, or artistic censorship. However, the Government does not respect these rights in practice. Citizens, including deputies in the National Assembly, expect reprisals for public criticism of the Government or the MPLA, and the Government attempts to impede such criticism by monitoring political meetings. Journalists are intimidated into practicing self-censorship. The Government runs and tightly controls the only daily newspaper, the only television station, and the major radio station and tightly restricts opposition leaders' access to these media. Two commercial radio stations and three private weekly and biweekly newspapers all practice self-censorship. The transmissions of one private radio station were cut several times after it broadcast remarks mildly critical of the Government.

Media policy and censorship are controlled by a committee composed of the Minister of Social Communication, the press spokesman for the Presidency, and the directors of the state-owned radio, television, and newspaper. Additionally, the Prime Minister has staff members devoted exclusively to censoring the government-owned and controlled newspaper Jornal de Angola. The state-controlled national radio headquarters in Luanda clears all programs broadcast on national radio stations in provincial capitals.

Government censorship of the press and intimidation of journalists increased in 1995. Several journalists were beaten, some brutally, in apparent retaliation for writings critical of government and MPLA leaders. Journalists admit that they practice self-censorship and that repeated "errors in judgement" can result in dismissal and death threats. The January 18 murder of Ricardo de Mello, editor of the independent newsletter Imparcial Fax was a major blow to the development of a free press in Angola (see Section 1.a.). Imparcial Fax closed down, and several of its staff sought safety outside the country when harassment and death threats against them continued. Another well-known journalist received death threats after reporting an embezzlement scandal involving high-level government leaders.

The Government is less restrictive with foreign news agencies such as the Voice of America (VOA), the British Broadcasting Corporation, and Cable News Network. However, one journalist was beaten after giving an interview to VOA. Foreign journalists require authorization from the Minister of Interior without which they cannot obtain access to government officials or travel within Angola. Both the Government and UNITA invited journalists to planned press events and to visit areas under their control.

UNITA runs a tightly controlled radio station whose broadcasts of often inflammatory material are heard throughout Angola. UNITA's newspaper, Terra Angolana, cannot be found in government-controlled areas.

Academic life has been severely circumscribed by the civil war, but there is academic freedom, and academics do not practice self-censorship.

b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The Constitution provides for the rights of association, assembly, and protest, but the Government does not respect these rights in practice. Both assembly and association are strictly controlled by the Government. Legislation allows the Government to deny required registration to private associations on security grounds, and the Government uses its powers arbitrarily to limit organized activities deemed inimical to its interests. The law also requires a minimum of 3-days' prior notice to authorities before public or private assemblies and makes participants liable for "offenses against the honor and consideration due to persons and to the organs of sovereignty." In January the Government warned ethnic Bakongos not to commemorate the second anniversary of the January 1993 "bloody Friday" massacre of Bakongos by military, police, and armed civilians.

UNITA did not allow free assembly and association in areas under its control.

c. Freedom of Religion

The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, including the separation of church and state, and the Government respects this right in practice. However, in October the Government published an order prohibiting the practice of religious activity outside of expressly approved locations. The order appeared to be aimed at Protestant evangelical churches, but it was unclear at year's end how it would be enforced.

d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

The Constitution provides for freedom of movement and residence within Angola and freedom of exit from and entry into the country, but the Government does not respect these rights in practice. As part of the peace process both the Government and UNITA committed themselves to allow the free circulation of people and goods, but local authorities and military commanders continued to restrict movement in many areas. Nevertheless, several major roads were demined and opened to traffic, and part of Angola's 850,000 internally displaced persons and 300,000 refugees in neighboring countries began to return to their homes. The Government continued to restrict travel of its citizens abroad, largely by limiting access to travel documents and exit visas, although the Government did allow resident senior UNITA leaders to travel abroad.

There are approximately 10,300 Zairian refugees in Angola. Angola is a signatory to both the United Nation's and Organization of African Unity's conventions on refugees, and the Government cooperates with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. An eligibility committee to evaluate asylum claims was established on paper in 1990, but it was first staffed in 1995 and has yet to meet. There were no reports of forced expulsions of persons with valid claims to refugee status, although some people who were deported in course of the year for criminal violations claimed to be refugees.

Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their Government

The Constitution provides all adult citizens with the right to vote by secret ballot in direct, multiparty elections to choose the President of the Republic and deputies of the National Assembly. The President is elected by absolute majority. If no candidate obtains a majority of votes cast there is a runoff between the two candidates with the highest number of votes. The National Assembly consists of 220 deputies, 130 elected on a national basis and 90 elected to represent the provinces. Ruling power is concentrated in the President, who appoints a Prime Minister and other members of the Council of Ministers through which the President exercises executive power. The

Council can enact decree-laws, decrees, and resolutions, thereby controllng most functions normally associated with the legislative branch.

The Angolan people exercised their new constitutional right to elect their government in September 1992 presidential and legislative elections. President dos Santos won 49.5 percent of the votes and should have faced UNITA leader Savimbi in a run-off election. UNITA and other parties accused the Government of massive electoral fraud, but United Nations' observers declared that the elections were generally free and fair and called on UNITA to accept the results. The civil war resumed after UNITA rejected the election results, and the runoff in the presidential elections was postponed indefinitely. Consequently, a small group within the MPLA has succeeded in maintaining a monopoly on government power. As part of the peace process both parties agreed in 1995 to amend the Constitution to provide for two vice-presidents; one of the two was offered to UNITA.

The National Assembly exercises no meaningful power independent of the ruling executive structure. Five of the 70 UNITA deputies elected to the National Assembly in the 1992 election took their seats in 1995. Several small parties are also represented in the National Assembly; however, few opposition deputies participated in National Assembly debate. Some MPLA deputies admitted that National Assembly debate was frequently superfluous, and the Assembly simply rubber-stamped the Presidency's initiatives.

In 1993 the Government prepared guidelines for local government elections, scheduled to take place 2 years after the 1992 presidential and legislative elections. However the Council of Ministers took no action to implement these guidelines, effectively shelving local elections indefinitely.

There are no legal barriers to the participation of women in the political process. Women occupied 32 of the 220 National Assembly seats. Five of 68 senior members of the Government are women, and 1 of the 9 Supreme Court judges is a woman.

Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights

Both the Government and UNITA impede independent investigations of human rights abuses in territory they control. Because of government suppression, there were no actively functioning Angolan human rights monitoring groups in 1995. Shortly after the Angolan Human Rights Association (ADHA) published a report critical of conditions in Angola's prisons in January 1994, both its President, William Tonet, and its Secretary General, Lourenco Agostinho, were arrested on spurious charges. William

Tonet's trial was repeatedly postponed and remained pending at midyear. Agostinho remained in detention, and,at year's end, the Supreme Court had not yet responded to his appeal. The Human Rights Committee of the National Assembly remained moribund.

The UNAVEM Human Rights Unit and UNAVEM's military and civilian police observers were the only effective human rights monitors, but they did not make the conclusions of their investigations public. Additionally, the Government and UNITA frequently interfered in UNAVEM's attempts to investigate complaints of human rights violations. The Government granted the ICRC limited access to prisons in 1995. However, both the Government and UNITA denied the ICRC access to people it believes are being held as prisoners (see Section 1.d.).

Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability, Language, or Social Status

Under the Constitution all citizens are equal before the law and enjoy the same rights and responsibilities regardless of color, race, ethnicity, sex, place of birth, religion, ideology, degree of education, or economic or social condition. The Government does not have the ability to effectively enforce these provisions.

Women

Violence against women is widespread and increasing. A study by a renowned jurist indicated that one-third of all homicides were perpetrated against women, usually by their spouses. There are credible reports that women are targets of violent crimes including rape and robbery in areas captured by government and UNITA soldiers. Due to dire economic circumstances, increasing numbers of women engage in prostitution, and the clergy report that marriages are breaking down at an alarming rate.

Despite Constitutional provisions women suffer from societal discrimination. Some women hold senior positions in the military (primarily in the medical field), civil service, and political parties, but women are mostly relegated to low-level positions in state-run industries and in the small private sector. The law provides for equal pay for equal work, but in practice women are not compensated equally. Adult women may open a bank account, accept employment, and own property without interference from their spouses. Women also have the right to inherit property. Upon the death of a male head of household, the widow automatically is entitled to 50 percent of any estate with the remainder divided equally among legitimate male and female children.

In many cities women swell the ranks of the disabled because they often set off land mines while foraging in the fields for food and firewood to feed their families.

Children

The Government gives only marginal attention to children's rights and welfare. As noted in Section l.g., both the Government and UNITA forcibly conscript children as young as 12 into service. A great increase in the number of street children in Luanda and other cities resulted from the continuing breakdown of family structure caused by the resumption of the civil war in 1992 and the continuing deterioration of the economy. Young girls often take jobs as domestic servants in private homes while young boys roam the market places and streets. Living conditions in government youth hostels are so poor that the majority of homeless children prefer to sleep on city streets.

The Government-sponsored National Institute for ChildrenÚÚviewed as an MPLA organÚÚhas not seriously addressed the problems children face and has been indifferent toward efforts by international nongovernmental organizations to assist dispossessed youth. There are no active private children's rights advocacy groups.

Medical authorities say that some female genital mutilation (FGM), which is widely condemned by international health experts as damaging to both physical and psychological health, occurs in remote areas of Moxico Province, bordering Zaire and Zambia. Government health workers sporadically have campaigned against the practice.

People with Disabilities

The number of physically disabled persons in Angola includes an estimated 70,000 people who required amputations due to mine explosions. While there is no institutional discrimination against people with disabilities, the Government is doing little to improve their physical, financial, or social distress. There is no legislation mandating accessibility for the disabled to public or private facilities, and, given the war-torn nature of the nation's infrastructure, it is difficult for the disabled to find employment or participate in the educational system.

National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

Angola's population includes 1 to 2 percent of Khoisan and other linguistically distinct hunter, gatherer tribes scattered throughout the southern provinces of Namibe, Cunene, and Cuando Cubango. There is no evidence that they suffer from official discrimination or harassment, but they do not participate actively in the political or economic life of the country and have a marginal ability to influence government decisions concerning their interests.

The long civil conflict has deep ethnic and urban versus rural roots. Many of the small number of white and mixed race Angolans who occupy technical and governmental positions have strongly backed the MPLA. The Government accuses UNITA of exacerbating ethnic tensions by dwelling on the perceived colonial ties of these people.

Section 6 Worker Rights

a. The Right of Association

The Constitution provides for the right to form and join trade unions, engage in union activity, and strike, but the Government does not respect these rights in practice. The Government dominates the labor movement through the National Union of Angolan Workers (UNTA), the labor organ of the ruling MPLA. The law requires that labor unions be recognized by the Government. At least three independent labor unions, which have petitioned for recognition, have never received a response from the Government. Restrictions on civil liberties effectively prevent any labor activity not approved by the Government.

The Constitution provides for the right to strike, and legislation passed in 1991 provides the legal framework for, and strictly regulates the exercise of, that right. The law prohibits lockouts and worker occupation of places of employment and provides protection for nonstriking workers. It prohibits strikes by military and police personnel, prison workers, and firemen. The law does not effectively prohibit employer retribution against strikers.

There were wildcat strikes against the Government by teachers, doctors, nurses, airline personnel, and Justice Ministry civil servants, among others. The Health and Education Ministries negotiated settlements but repeatedly failed to honor them because of lack of resources. The Justice Ministry declared the strike by its civil servants illegal. In September UNTA announced a planned 1-day general strike that was to have been the first labor action in its history. However, the strike was canceled after the Government announced price controls on essential commodities and agreed to continue discussions with UNTA on other issues.

b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

The Constitution provides for the right to organize and the law provides for collective bargaining, but the Government does not respect these rights in practice. The Government dominates the economy through state-run enterprises and the Ministry of Public Administration, Employment and Social Security sets wages and benefits on an annual basis. In the small private sector, wages are based on multiples of the minimum salary set by the Government. Legislation prohibits discrimination against union members. Union members' complaints are adjudicated in the regular civil courts. Employers found guilty of antiunion discrimination are required to reinstate workers fired for union activities.

There are no export processing zones.

c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

Current law authorizing forced labor for breaches of worker discipline and participation in strikes has been cited by the International Labor Organization as a violation of its Convention 105.

d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children

The legal minimum age for employment is 14. The Inspector General of the Ministry of Public Administration, Employment, and Social Security is responsible for enforcing labor laws. This Ministry maintains employment centers where prospective employees register, and these centers screen out applicants under the age of 14. However, many younger children work on family farms, as domestic servants, and in the informal economy. The survival of Angola's growing number of street children underscores the role of child labor in the informal urban economy.

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

The minimum wage set by the Ministry of Public Administration, Labor and Social Security was equivalent to $0.67 (6,336 kwanzas reajustados) per month in September. However, the Government does not enforce this standard. Neither the minimum wage nor the average monthly salary equivalent to $6.14 (53,800 kwanzas reajustados) is sufficient to provide a decent living for a worker and family. As a result, many wage-earners depend on the thriving informal sector, subsistence farming, theft, corruption, or support from relatives abroad in order to survive.

A 1994 government decree established a 37-hour workweek. However, inadequate resources prevented the Ministry of Public Administration, Employment, and Social Security from enforcing this standard or from enforcing occupational health and safety standards. Workers cannot remove themselves from dangerous work situations without jeopardy to continued employment.

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