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Attacks on the Press in 1997 - Angola

Publisher Committee to Protect Journalists
Publication Date February 1998
Cite as Committee to Protect Journalists, Attacks on the Press in 1997 - Angola, February 1998, available at: [accessed 20 October 2017]
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.

In April, after two decades of civil war, former Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) rebels entered into a power-sharing agreement with the majority Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) government led by Eduardo Dos Santos. UNITA, under the leadership of Jonas Savimbi, failed to surrender territory or disarm its soldiers as stipulated under the peace treaty, however, and has subsequently faced sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council.

Although the constitution provides for freedom of expression and of the press, the government does not respect these rights. Continuing a trend that began during the war, most journalists still work and live in poverty and fear, and self-censorship is common. In addition to the 1995 murder of Ricardo de Mello, editor of the independent newsletter Imparcial Fax, last year's murder of Antonio Casemero, a journalist with the state-run Angolan Popular Television remains unsolved.

There were no investments in the private media from the business community, and the media were hampered by the collapse of much of the country's infrastructure. National distribution of newspapers and other publications was virtually impossible. Stepping into the information vacuum, the state attempted to manipulate public opinion by monopolizing the airwaves. Although there are three private weekly and biweekly newspapers, the government runs and tightly controls the only daily newspaper, the only television station, and the major radio station.

In April, the privately owned FM station Radio 2000 in Lubango was banned by the government from broadcasting the Voice of America's Portugal-to-Africa program, "Angola: Linha Directa, Linha Aberta." Radio 2000 was the only station inside Angola carrying this programming, and is believed by many Angolans to be the most informative and unbiased source of information. This action, taken after the implementation of the new unity government, directly contradicted the government's professed commitment to democracy and freedom of expression.

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