Amnesty International Report 2006 - Angola
|Publication Date||23 May 2006|
|Cite as||Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 2006 - Angola, 23 May 2006, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/447ff79d16.html [accessed 18 May 2013]|
|Disclaimer||This 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.|
Hundreds of families were forcibly evicted from their homes. Police were responsible for human rights violations, including extrajudicial executions and excessive use of force. There were also reports of human rights violations by police and soldiers in Cabinda, with no prosecutions of any accused officers. Human rights defenders and political activists were threatened and briefly detained for their non-violent activities. Efforts to improve human rights increased with the appointment of a Justice Ombudsman.
Hundreds of families were left homeless in Kwanza Norte province as a result of heavy rains and floods in the first quarter of 2005.
In February, Angola ratified the African Union Protocol to the Convention on the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism. In May it became the 100th country to sign an agreement with the USA, which was subsequently approved by the National Assembly, giving US troops and others immunity from prosecution before the International Criminal Court.
In March, the UN Committee on Human Rights ruled that the Angolan government had breached journalist Rafael Marques' human rights. He had been arrested and imprisoned for six months in October 1999 for criticizing President José Eduardo dos Santos and ordered to pay damages to the President. The Committee held that his conviction and sentence constituted an unlawful interference with his right to freedom of expression and urged the government to provide him with an effective remedy, including compensation. He had not been compensated by the year's end.
A Justice Ombudsman was appointed in April. The establishment of an Ombudsman Office was provided for by the Constitution of 1992 but was delayed by the civil war. The law establishing the mandate of the Ombudsman and his Office had not been approved by the end of the year
Elections were scheduled for late 2006. President José Eduardo dos Santos announced that he would stand as the presidential candidate of the ruling People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola (Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola,MPLA). An amended electoral law was promulgated in August after the Supreme Court ruled that some of its provisions barring President dos Santos from standing were unconstitutional.
In November the country was officially declared free of the Marburg fever epidemic which, between March and July, killed 227 out of the reported 252 people infected. Most cases occurred in the northern province of Uige.
In November, the Huila Provincial Court convicted José Marques Pinto, the administrator of a ranch owned by a former minister, of the illegal imprisonment and torture of 18 villagers in 2003. He was sentenced to 28 years' imprisonment.
The regulations for the implementation of a land law approved in 2004 had not beeen drafted by the end of 2005 and consultation with civil society groups had not started.
Hundreds of families were made homeless and had their property destroyed or stolen after being forcibly evicted from their homes in several Luanda suburbs. They were not given compensation. Members of the national and military police, who assisted the Luanda provincial government fiscal agents and private demolition brigades who carried out the evictions, used force. There were no investigations into allegations of police misconduct.
- An ongoing land dispute between the Catholic Church and about 2,000 families in the Wenji Maka neighbourhood was not resolved. Between June and November, scores of families were forcibly evicted by heavily armed police officers who beat residents and used excessive force. Dozens of residents and human rights activists were arrested and released without charge within 24 hours.
- Over 300 families in Cidadania neighbourhood had their houses demolished and were forcibly evicted, some for the fifth time, in September. Apparently, the land had been allocated to a former member of the government. The demolitions were carried out by a private construction firm and municipal fiscal agents, protected by about 20 heavily armed police officers.
- Over 600 families were forcibly evicted from their homes in Cambamba I and II in November. Police arrived at about 7am and started demolishing the houses and beating residents who opposed the evictions. Twelve people, including Luís Araújo, the coordinator of the non-governmental organization (NGO) SOS-Habitat, were arrested for allegedly inciting violence and held overnight at the local police station. The following day they appeared in court but were released for lack of evidence. The judge referred the case to the criminal investigation police.
Policing and human rights
Efforts were made to improve police respect for human rights and to combat impunity. In July the Angola National Police signed an agreement with the Association for Justice, Peace and Democracy to provide human rights and civic education to the police. Some police officers were expelled from the force for misuse of firearms and beatings. However, no police officer was known to have been prosecuted for human rights violations, including extrajudicial executions, torture and ill-treatment or the use of excessive force during 2005.
- In January, a police officer extrajudicially executed Antoninho Tchsiwugo, a homeless youngster, in the city of Lobito. The officer went to the fourth floor of the abandoned building where Antoninho Tchsiwugo and other homeless young people lived, threatened them with his gun, grabbed and handcuffed Antoninho Tchsiwugo and shot him in the head at close range. The officer then removed the handcuffs and threw the body down the elevator shaft. The body was removed the next day by the police and buried without informing his family. It was not clear whether the officer was arrested. Following pressure from the local NGO, OMUNGA Project, officials from the Attorney's Office in Luanda went to Lobito in February to investigate the killing and stated that the officer had escaped from prison, with the connivance of his colleagues. In June, an official from the Ministry of the Interior stated that the officer had been arrested in March and was in prison. He had not been tried by the end of the year. Two of the witnesses to the killing received threats and were later arrested on suspicion of theft. In March, José Patrocínio, coordinator of the OMUNGA Project, received veiled threats because of his work on this case.
Police apparently used excessive force to prevent a demonstration by university students protesting against the cost of transport. The students were reportedly beaten. About 20 students, including student leader Mfuca Fualala Muzambe, were arrested and briefly held at the 3rd Police Station where they were beaten again before being released without charge.
The trial of 17 people charged with disobeying the authorities in Cafunfo in 2004 resumed in July. All were acquitted. However, there was no investigation into reports that police had used excessive force.
The results of an inquiry initiated in late 2004 into five deaths in police custody in Capenda-Camulemba and the killing by the police of two demonstrators outside the police station had not been made public by the end of the year.
Human rights defenders
Human rights defenders were subjected to threats and arrest on account of their activities.
- Luís Araújo, coordinator of SOS-Habitat, was briefly detained in June and November because of his activities to prevent forced evictions.
In January the Provincial Governor reportedly admitted that there had been human rights violations in the province and that cases had been investigated and many individuals had been tried.
The first authorized demonstration was held in January to commemorate the anniversary of the Simulambuco Treaty which incorporated Cabinda into Angola. However, further demonstrations were banned; police used force to suppress them and demonstrators were arrested.
There were unconfirmed reports of sporadic fighting in May and June between Angolan forces and the Front for the Liberation of the Cabindan Enclave (FLEC). Civil society groups accused both sides of embarking on a campaign of misinformation and called on them to enter negotiations.
The appointment in February of a Catholic bishop from outside Cabinda to the province led to violent protests. In June the police reportedly used force and tear gas to disperse a demonstration protesting at the appointment.
In November Rapid Intervention Police used firearms to disperse a reportedly peaceful demonstration in Landana and beat demonstrators. Some 25 demonstrators were arrested and briefly detained.
There were several reports of politically motivated violence between supporters of the MPLA and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA). In March, one person was reportedly killed and 28 others were wounded in clashes between MPLA and UNITA supporters in the southern town of Mavinga, when UNITA members tried to raise their flag to commemorate the 39th anniversary of the organization's foundation.