Last Updated: Monday, 20 October 2014, 15:44 GMT

U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 1994 - Angola

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 30 January 1995
Cite as United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 1994 - Angola, 30 January 1995, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6aa4138.html [accessed 21 October 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.
 

 

Throughout 1994 the Government of the Republic of Angola and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) remained embroiled in a brutal civil war. However, the Government, led by President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, and UNITA, led by Jonas Savimbi, also engaged in peace negotiations in Lusaka under the auspices of the United Nations and with the help of three observer countries, Portugal, Russia, and the United States. The two parties signed a peace agreement, the Lusaka Protocol, on November 20 which calls for a cease-fire, the withdrawal and disarming of UNITA, and the creation of a new national army made up of fighters from both sides. However, at year's end, very little progress had been made in implementing the Lusaka Protocol.

Fighting resumed in October 1992, after UNITA declared the results of the September 1992 elections fraudulent. The United Nations considered these elections free and fair. Since the renewed fighting UNITA has captured control of as much as 70 percent of the country, but the majority of the population has remained in, or fled to, government-controlled areas. The Government continued to have the diplomatic support of the international community and the U.N. Security Council throughout the year. By May the Government began to redress the military situation and by year's end had retaken several strategic points from UNITA. The cease-fire established by the Lusaka Protocol went into effect on November 22. Despite violations on both sides, confirmed by U.N. observers, the cease-fire appeared to be generally holding through the year's end.

To counter UNITA, the Government continued a major buildup in 1994 of its military and police organizations and also continued to arm urban civilians. These civilians, sympathetic to the governing party, the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), assisted government forces during the outbreak of hostilities that led to the resumption of the civil war. All of these organizations, including the Government and UNITA, were responsible for persistent human rights abuses. The MPLA controlled tightly the 220-member National Assembly and harassed the few opposition deputies, including UNITA deputies, in attendance. MPLA leader President dos Santos continued to manipulate the party in order to consolidate political control and neutralize potential opposition.

The Ministry of Interior is responsible for internal security; it created the Rapid Intervention Police, a paramilitary group, in late 1992 to quell civil unrest. The Ministry has on occasion loaned the Rapid Intervention Police to the armed forces.

Angola has great economic potential with extensive petroleum and diamond reserves, rich agricultural land, and latent hydroelectric resources. However, the economy continued to contract in 1994 as a result of war and misguided economic policy. Areas under government control in 1994 suffered from hyperinflation--from 800 to 1,000 percent, scarcity of consumer goods, massive unemployment and underemployment, and continuing pervasive corruption. UNITA-controlled areas reportedly experienced similar problems, with perhaps the exception of pervasive corruption. Subsistence agriculture, traditionally the main source of income for the majority of Angola's approximately 10 million citizens, continued to be severely constrained by war-related damage, including heavy use of land mines by both sides.

Human rights deteriorated further in the face of an intensified armed conflict and the failure of the Government and UNITA to stop egregious violations of humanitarian law. Military and security forces on both sides flagrantly disregarded fundamental humanitarian values in their treatment of prisoners of war (POW's), their extrajudicial killings of unarmed civilians, including humanitarian relief workers, women, children, and the elderly. Both sides repeatedly interfered for political purposes with internationally provided humanitarian assistance. Informed observers estimated that approximately 1,000 persons died daily at the beginning of 1994 and that at least 100,000 persons have perished since fighting resumed in 1992. Other human rights abuses included mistreatment of detainees, deplorable prison conditions, arbitrary arrest and detention, unfair trials, broad restrictions on freedom of speech, press, and association, and violence against women and children.

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

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

a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

There were credible accounts that government military officers killed civilian men, women, children, and elderly persons suspected of being UNITA sympathizers after they recaptured N'Dalatando in May (see Section 1.g.). As the war worsened throughout 1994, common criminal violence often was indistinguishable from politically motivated violence. Fighting between members of the military and police and among military, police, and bandits in a large open-air market on the outskirts of Luanda regularly resulted in fatalities. There were eyewitness accounts of police killing unarmed civilians, including youths and street children in Luanda, and of violent, unexplained deaths, such as the August discovery of a well-known journalist who was found stuffed in a garbage can in a Luanda suburb. Unknown assailants assassinated the Vice Governor of Malange Province in early July. It is widely believed that the killing was for political reasons.

In January the National Assembly Subcommittee for Human Rights released an investigative report, which failed to find the Government culpable for the events of "bloody Friday January 23, 1993," when military, national police, and civilians massacred unknown numbers of Bakongo residents of Luanda, Lubango, Benguela, and Namibe provinces. The head of the political opposition party, Partido Democratico Para O Progresso-Alianca Nacional Angolana (PDP-ANA), whose members are almost exclusively Bakongo, proclaimed the report a whitewash, alleging that it contained testimony by policemen who participated in the "ethnic cleansing" and that the investigation was carried out by National Assembly deputies politically aligned with the ruling MPLA. Opposition National Assembly deputies boycotted the plenary session scheduled to debate the report for fear of MPLA reprisals. The report was approved ultimately, but the session did not have a quorum.

In June UNITA admitted to executing summarily South African mercenaries fighting for the Government and subsequently published their photographs in UNITA's newspaper Terra Angolana.

b. Disappearance

Throughout 1994, both Government and UNITA officials accused one another of abductions, disappearances, and the killing of civilians. The details of these incidents are unavailable.

The Government's Ministry of Assistance and Social Reinsertion encouraged programs of U.N. agencies and international nongovernmental organizations (NGO's) to search for family members of orphans and abandoned children.

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

There were unsubstantiated reports that the police tortured detainees. Interior Ministry personnel routinely beat detainees held in Comarca de Luanda, a prison on the outskirts of Luanda, to extract information or confessions prior to bringing them to trial. In many cases, the police routinely beat and then released arrestees rather than go through the effort of preparing a formal case. No new information was available on the Laboratoria, where, according to credible reports, government personnel tortured detainees in 1993.

The Government, the Angolan Human Rights Association, and the National Assembly Subcommittee on Human Rights acknowledged publicly that conditions in Angola's prisons are inhumane. Cells designed for 10 prisoners contain 30 and are divided by open toilets and sewage. Prisoners die of malnutrition and tuberculosis. Many prisons, lacking financial and other support from the Government, failed to supply prisoners with food and medicine, and prisoners had to depend on international relief organizations and their families and friends for basic support. Although the Government reportedly authorized access early in the year to all prisons for members of the National Assembly's Subcommittee on Human Rights, by midyear the deputies abandoned the project to improve prison conditions due to government opposition.

While detailed information is lacking, there are reliable reports that the Government and UNITA are both culpable of abuse of human rights of prisoners and of prisoners in uniform. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) had only limited access in 1994 to prisoners.

d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

Transfer of the judicial process and prison system portfolios from the Interior Ministry to the Justice Ministry did not occur as agreed to by the Council of Ministers in 1993, and Interior Ministry officials systematically, arbitrarily, and secretly detained people for all categories of crime, without trial, for indeterminate periods of time. The rights of detainees were not respected.

Under Angolan law, a person caught in the act of a crime can be arrested and detained immediately. Otherwise, the law states that arrests require a warrant signed by a judge or a provincial attorney general, followed by a public statement of the grounds for arrest. The prosecuting attorney and defense attorney have a maximum of 90 days to prepare a case. Detainees are to be allowed prompt access to family members and a lawyer.

The number of POW's and other political and security detainees held by the Government at year's end was unknown. The Secretary-General of the Angola Human Rights Association (AHRA) remained in detention, and the Supreme Court had not responded to his appeal. The trial of the President of the AHRA was repeatedly postponed and remained pending at year's end.

While there were no known well-known UNITA sympathizers under government detention in Luanda in 1994, the Government kept senior UNITA leaders in Luanda under surveillance and did not allow them to travel abroad. The two highest ranking civilian UNITA leaders were not allowed to travel abroad from October 1992 until November 1994. The Government made efforts to integrate senior UNITA leaders into Angolan society.

UNITA arrested two Angolan humanitarian relief workers in Huambo in July for violating "state security." One was held incommunicado; the other was held indefinitely without charge but was allowed visitors. When government forces recaptured Huambo in November, these two relief workers disappeared. The ICRC estimated that there were hundreds of persons, both military and civilian, arrested and detained by UNITA in connection with the conflict or for security reasons. UNITA did not allow ICRC full access to their detainees, despite promises to do so, and only a limited number of detainees could be visited by the ICRC in the cities of Huambo and Uige. At the end of 1994, and with the recapture of Huambo by government forces, there was no information about the whereabouts of the detainees. The ICRC also acknowledged that UNITA has held an unknown number of MPLA activists captured in other areas such as Caimbambo since the renewal of hostilities in 1992.

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial

In October 1991, the Code for Penal Process was amended nominally to guarantee a public trial, establish a system of bail, and recognize the accused's right to counsel and to testify. Despite these legal safeguards, and despite Ministry of Justice calls for judicial reform, significant shortcomings in the administration of justice persisted. As noted in Section 1.d., the Ministry of Interior frequently arbitrarily arrested and detained people, often without the objective of a trial. Trials for political and security crimes are handled exclusively by the Supreme Court. There were no known political or security trials in 1994.

The court system is comprised of a Supreme Court at the appellate level and municipal and provincial courts (the latter under the authority of the Ministry of Justice) of original jurisdiction. Although the 1992 law on constitutional revision speaks of an independent judiciary, as does the 1991 amended Constitution, in practice the judiciary is not independent. The President of the Republic has strong appointive powers, including of Supreme Court judges (for life terms), with no requirement for National Assembly confirmation. At the end of the year, the President had filled only 9 of the 16 positions. 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.

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 not set up an independent judicial system, but it has a military and civilian court system in several provinces. Trials are never public. UNITA President Dr. Jonas Savimbi appoints the judges. The juries consist of elderly men chosen from the community. Reportedly the accused person has the right to a lawyer. Two national humanitarian assistance workers arrested in Huambo were to be tried in private and were not permitted outside counsel; however, they disappeared when government forces recaptured the city.

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

The Government routinely maintains surveillance of certain groups, such as UNITA and other opposition National Assembly deputies, opposition party leaders, known or suspected Angolan or foreign UNITA sympathizers, and foreign diplomats. The law requires judicial search warrants, and in practice the law is respected. However, as far as known there were no search warrants issued before the roundup of Lebanese and other foreign businessmen in 1993.

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

Both government and UNITA forces were responsible for widespread abuses of humanitarian standards during the course of the war. There were credible reports that the Government carried out indiscriminate bombing between March and May on the provincial capital of N'Dalatando. The Government never revealed the death toll, but a large percentage of the casualties was reportedly civilian. In June the Chief of Staff of the armed forces admitted government fighter aircraft mistakenly bombed a village school in Waku Kungo, Cuanza Sul, reportedly killing 89 children.

Both the Government and UNITA used land mines indiscriminately, causing a large number of fatalities and injuries. There were also credible reports that government soldiers targeted displaced women, stealing their humanitarian food rations and raping them.

The Government and UNITA both impeded provision of emergency relief supplies and assistance by the ICRC, other nongovernmental voluntary organizations, and United Nations agencies. The military was also responsible for the murder of an Angolan humanitarian relief worker in Malange; and provincial authorities often harassed relief workers and refused to comply with regulations governing the distribution of humanitarian assistance. In UNITA-held Huambo, soldiers forcibly removed relief food in July from CARE International warehouses. UNITA caused the mortality rate to rise considerably by withholding clearance for the majority of the humanitarian flights from May to late August to the besieged provincial capitals of Malange and Kuito, and sometimes fired on aircraft. In response the Government denied humanitarian assistance flights to Huambo and Uige.

Credible sources, including eyewitnesses, reported that both sides forcibly conscripted children as young as 12 into military service throughout Angola.

Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

a. Freedom of Speech and Press

Although the 1991 Constitution provides for freedom of expression, in reality free speech is muted in the National Assembly, and the Government tightly controls the media, including media access to controversial public figures. Luanda's commercial radio station (LAC) and the weekly newspaper Correio da Semana are privately owned but are not independent. The majority of LAC and Correio stockholders are MPLA leaders who hue closely to the party line. In mid-1994 even LAC was told to cancel a popular daily program somewhat critical of the Government. Media policy and censorship are controlled by a committee composed of the Minister of Information, the press spokesman for the Presidency, and the directors of the state-owned radio, television, and newspaper. Additionally, the Prime Minister has staff devoted exclusively to censoring the government-owned and controlled newspaper Jornal de Angola. Although national radio has separate stations in each provincial capital, broadcasters must clear all programs with national radio headquarters in Luanda. There are five private radio stations in Luanda which censor themselves. Transmissions of Vorgan, UNITA's radio station, are heard throughout Angola. UNITA's newspaper, Terra Angolana, cannot be found in Luanda.

The Government resorted to even stricter censorship in response to enhanced public awareness of human rights, which has evolved despite the war. Journalists admit they are under self- censorship and that repeated "errors in judgment" result in dismissal. The only source of news about the war acceptable to the Government is the spokesperson for the Chief of Staff of the armed forces. The Government is more liberal with foreign news agencies, such as the Voice of America and the British Broadcasting Corporation, in part because most people lack the equipment needed to receive international transmissions.

Credible members of the independent Angolan Journalists Syndicate (SJA) alleged in 1994 that the Government continued to restrict press freedom, including access to controversial public figures. The cause of death of the journalist mentioned in Section 1.a. was determined to be homicide by an unknown assailant. The SJA did not the challenge the determination. Regarding the death of two journalists in 1993, the SJA said that the Government has never published the results of their investigation, and the SJA is powerless to do anything about it.

Foreign journalists must register with the government press center to obtain access to officials and to travel within Angola. Both the Government and UNITA invited journalists to planned press events and to visit areas under their control.

Academic life has been severely circumscribed by the war, and the university is barely functioning. There is academic freedom; academics do not practice self-censorship.

b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The Constitution provides for the right of peaceful assembly with 3-day notification and the right of association. However, in practice the Government carefully controls both assembly and association. For example, authorities in Luanda vetoed plans, properly submitted in advance, for a commemoration on the first anniversary of Bakongos killed in a military- and police- inspired massacre in January 1993, warning of serious repercussions for anyone who congregated on the anniversary (see Section 1.a.).

Regulations allow the Government to deny required registration to private associations on security grounds. The Government uses its powers arbitrarily to limit association activities deemed inimical to its interests, such as in the case of the Angolan Human Rights Association (see Section 4).

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

c. Freedom of Religion

Freedom of religion, including separation of church and state, is provided for in the Constitution and respected in practice.

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

The civil war greatly inhibited freedom of movement within the country and forced large numbers of persons to flee combat areas. According to U.N. statistics, since late 1992, 2 million people have fled to government-controlled territory from the interior just ahead of UNITA's advancing troops, where they remain. However, wartime conditions prevented physical access to many areas of the country by humanitarian organizations, and the exact number of persons severely affected by the war remained unknown.

While citizens have the legal right to change residence and workplace in government-controlled areas, the scarcity of habitable dwellings as well as massive unemployment and underemployment effectively impeded most voluntary changes. The Government restricted travel of its citizens abroad, largely by limiting access to foreign exchange or, in the case of UNITA leaders, denying permission outright. At the same time, MPLA deputies and high-level government officials had unlimited access to foreign exchange and the right to travel abroad. There are substantiated reports that the Government impeded opposition party leaders from traveling from Luanda to their constituencies in the interior.

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

While the Angolan people for the first time exercised their constitutional right to change their government through peaceful means in the September 1992 presidential and legislative elections, the resumption of the war stalled the democratization process, and a second round of presidential elections had to be postponed indefinitely. Consequently, governmental power, including in the National Assembly, remained exclusively in the hands of a small group within the MPLA.

The National Assembly consists of 220 deputies, 130 elected on a national basis and 90 elected to represent the provinces. Eleven of the 70 UNITA deputies elected in the 1992 election took their seats in 1994. There are several deputies representing smaller parties. However, few opposition deputies participated in National Assembly debate. MPLA deputies have admitted publicly that National Assembly debate was superfluous, and the Assembly simply rubberstamped the Presidency's initiatives.

The Minister of the Interior attempted to impeach an opposition deputy for having criticized the Government in the international media. The opposition deputy apologized formally to the Government in order to retain his seat. Several months later, policemen reportedly attempted to kill that same deputy. The Government's investigation of the incident was not completed at year's end.

The peace negotiations in Lusaka reached a successful conclusion on November 20 when representatives of the Government, UNITA, and the United Nations signed the Lusaka Protocol. A Joint Commission of delegations of the Government, UNITA, and the three observer nations, chaired by the U.N. Secretary General's Special Representative, began meeting in Luanda in December to implement the Lusaka Protocol. Limited progress had been made at year's end.

In 1993 the Government prepared guidelines for local government elections, scheduled to take place 2 years after the 1992 presidential and legislative elections. However, at the end of 1994, the Council of Ministers had taken no action on the guidelines, effectively shelving local elections indefinitely.

While there are no legal barriers to the participation of indigenous people in the political process, they are underrepresented in the National Assembly and do not participate actively in politics (see Section 5). Women occupied 32 of the 220 National Assembly seats. One of the nine Supreme Court judges is a woman, and there are three women in the Prime Minister's Cabinet.

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

Both the Government and UNITA impeded independent investigations of human rights abuses in their respective territory. There were no actively functioning Angolan nongovernmental human rights associations or groups. The Angolan Human Rights Association (ADHA) was inactive in 1994, because its leaders, both the president and the secretary general, were deeply embroiled in defending themselves against spurious law suits, reportedly instigated by the Government. ADHA published a report on Angola's prisons in January that was the genesis of constant Interior Ministry harassment and subsequent imprisonment of the Association's leaders.

The National Assembly Human Rights Subcommittee, which got off to a promising start in 1993, was ineffective in 1994 owing to MPLA opposition. It was unable to create mechanisms to enforce existing laws to protect the rights of Angolans, and human rights issues received very low priority in National Assembly debate.

While frequently harassing and limiting relief operations, the Government and UNITA did allow a variety of international NGO's access to much of the territory under their respective control. They were much less willing, however, to allow human rights investigations. The Government granted the ICRC only limited access to prisons in 1994.

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

Angola is a multiracial society, and the Constitution states that all citizens are equal regardless of race, ethnic origin, sex, religion, or social status.

Women

The deterioration of the social and economic situation, a consequence of the war and poor governance, has had a negative effect on the status of women. Although women held senior positions in the military (primarily in the medical field), civil service, and political parties, they held mainly low-level positions in state-run industries and in the small private economy. The law proclaims equal pay for equal work, but in practice women were not compensated equally. Adult women may open a bank account, accept employment, and own property without interference from their spouse. Women are included in all levels of UNITA's ranks.

While little information was available on the extent of domestic violence, a study published by a renowned journalist indicated that spousal violence is widespread and growing. The study indicated that one-third of all homicides were perpetrated against women, usually by their spouse. The study revealed that women are not treated as fairly as men in a court of law, even though the Constitution provides for equality. In many besieged cities, women swelled the ranks of the handicapped because, in foraging in the fields for food to feed their families, they often set off land mines. Due to dire economic circumstances, increasing numbers of adult women and girls engage in prostitution, and the clergy report that marriages are breaking down at an alarming rate.

Children

The Government has given only marginal attention to children's rights and welfare. As noted, both the Government and UNITA have been responsible for conscripting teenagers into military service. A major problem in 1994 was the growing presence of street children in Luanda and other cities, one indication of the structural breakdown in Angola's family institutions caused by the war and the deteriorating economy. Young females are often accepted into private homes as domestics while young males roam the market places and streets. The living conditions in government youth hostels are deplorable, and the majority of the homeless children prefer to sleep on city streets.

The government-sponsored National Institute for Children, viewed as an MPLA organ, has not seriously addressed the problems children face and has been indifferent toward efforts by international NGO's to assist dispossessed youth. However, the Government cooperated with international NGO's in establishing a camp for young Angolans on the outskirts of Luanda. The project was only partially successful in keeping children from returning to the city streets and crime. There were no active private children's rights advocacy groups.

It cannot be verified whether female genital mutilation is practiced in Angola. However, medical authorities say that it may have occurred in limited fashion in remote areas of Moxico province, bordering Zaire and Zambia.

Indigenous People

Angola's population includes 1 to 2 percent of preliterate tribes. Mostly hunters and gatherers, these Khoisan and other linguistically distinct groups are 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.

National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

The long civil conflict has deep ethnic and urban versus rural roots. The MPLA is heavily supported by the Mbundu ethnic group, which makes up an estimated 25 percent of the population, and by many city dwellers, notably in Luanda. It also has strong backing among the small number of white and mixed-race Angolans who occupy technical and governmental positions. Election results indicated a high level of support among other ethnic groups apart from the Ovimbundu. UNITA has its principal backing among the country's largest single ethnic group, the Ovimbundu, who make up an estimated 37 percent of the population and are concentrated in the central and southern parts of Angola. The Government continued to claim that inflammatory UNITA rhetoric exacerbated ethnic tensions by dwelling on the perceived colonial ties of white and mixed-race Angolans. The Government cracked down on Lebanese businessmen in 1994, allegedly for illegal business activities. The Government arbitrarily deported an Angolan/Portuguese businessman, born in Malange, during a sweep of mostly Lebanese businessmen in Luanda in December 1993-January 1994. He has not been permitted to return, although in a recent press interview in Lisbon he expressed a desire to do so.

People with Disabilities

There are many physically disabled persons throughout Angola, the majority of whom are casualties of land mines and other civil war-related injuries. While there is no obvious discrimination against them, the Government has done little to ameliorate their physical, financial, or social distress and has not legislated accessibility to public buildings or any other benefit specifically for the disabled.

Section 6 Worker Rights

a. The Right of Association

The 1991 Constitution recognizes the right of Angolans to form trade unions and to bargain collectively. However, the implementing law governing unions has yet to be passed, and in practice the Government dominates the labor movement through the National Union of Angolan Workers (UNTA), the official labor union of the ruling MPLA, which remained the principal workers' organization. Two other groups without affiliation to a political party, the National Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Angola and the Democratic Confederation of Angolan Workers, waited yet another year for peace and a new labor union law. The war, the Government's long association with and preference for UNTA, and the lack of necessary legislation effectively stifled the development of these two organizations.

Organized labor is concentrated in the cities. There is no organized labor in agriculture, traditionally the main source of income for the vast majority of Angolans. The Constitution provides for the right to strike, and legislation passed in 1991 provides the legal framework to strike. The law prohibits lockouts and worker occupation of places of employment and provides some protection for nonstriking workers. It prohibits strikes by military and police personnel, prison workers, and firemen. It does not prohibit retribution against strikers.

There were strikes against the Government in August by air traffic controllers and in September by Luanda province public school teachers. The Government negotiated the air traffic controllers' demands expeditiously, and it met with a 5-member teachers' commission, representing Luanda province's 11,000 teachers. The Government harassed commission members until they capitulated to the Government's demand that the strike be postponed until the end of the academic year in October in exchange for an extra month's salary. The Government did not provide a salary increase or pay the extra month's salary as promised, and consequently the teachers remained on strike at the end of 1994.

By year's end, the Government and the MPLA-controlled National Assembly had still not enacted laws to allow labor organizations to affiliate with international labor bodies. UNTA, the MPLA labor union, is affiliated with the Organization of African Trade Union Unity and the formerly Soviet-controlled World Federation of Trade Unions. The two planned Angolan trade union federations will not be able to apply for membership in the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions until relevant domestic legislation is enacted.

b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

Angolan workers have the constitutional right to organize and bargain collectively. However, in practice there has been almost no collective bargaining, and the Government dominates the economy through state-run enterprises. The Ministry of Public Administration, Labor, and Social Security continued to set wages and benefits on an annual basis. The Council of Ministers approved the Ministry's proposal to increase salaries 100 percent for all public sector employees in 1994. The Council based salaries of employees of state-owned enterprises on profits of the previous year, the availability of loans from the national bank, and the percentage of government ownership. In Angola's small private sector, wages are based on multiples of the minimum salary set by the Government.

The 1991 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. Angola has no export processing zones.

c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

In 1993 the Government indicated that in mid-1994 it would introduce legislation to prohibit forced labor, reversing laws and provisions which had been cited by the International Labor Organization (ILO) as a violation of ILO Convention 105 on Forced Labor. The outdated legislation authorizes forced labor for breaches of worker discipline and participation in strikes. While new legislation was proposed in 1994, it had not been enacted by year's end or even debated by the National Assembly.

d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children

The legal minimum age for employment is 14. The Inspector General of the Ministry of Labor is responsible for enforcing labor laws. The Labor Ministry maintains employment centers where prospective employees register. These centers screen out applicants under the age of 14. However, children at a much younger age work on family farms 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 is set by the Government and was increased by 100 percent in 1994. However, the Government does not enforce the wage standard. In real terms, the minimum wage of just over $1 per month (1 million kwanzas) is insufficient to support a worker and family. As a result, many wage-earning workers depended on the thriving informal sector (night jobs, subsistence farming, theft, corruption, or support from abroad) to maintain an acceptable standard of living.

The normal workweek, established by a 1994 government decree, is 37 hours. There was no information available on the adequacy of work safety conditions or health standards, but they presumably were adversely affected by the weakness of the Angolan economy, the lack of enforcement mechanisms, and the war.

Search Refworld

Countries