Annual Report: Angola 2013

May 23, 2013

Annual Report: Angola 2013

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  • On 3 October Manuel “Laranjinha” Francisco was arrested by police officers, who reportedly beat him during arrest before taking him to the 17th Police Station, Cazenga Division, in the neighbourhood of Luanda known as Antenove. Witnesses said police beat him at the station. The following day the police told his family that he had been transferred to the Police Command of Cazenga. The family could not find him there; they reportedly received a call later that day informing them that Manuel Francisco’s body was in a morgue in a Luanda hospital after having been found in Cacuaco municipality. His body reportedly bore signs of beatings, including a missing fingernail, missing tooth and a broken leg. Although the family filed a complaint at Cazenga Police Division, police authorities did not comment on allegations that Manuel Francisco had been killed while in custody, and nor did they state whether an investigation was being carried out into the circumstances surrounding his death. No further information was available by the end of the year.

Freedoms of assembly and association

Authorities continued to suppress freedom of assembly throughout the country. Anti-government demonstrations which started in March 2011 continued into 2012 and took place mainly in Luanda, Benguela and Cabinda. As in 2011, police not only failed to intervene to prevent violence against those peacefully demonstrating, but also reportedly used excessive force against demonstrators, some of whom were arbitrarily arrested and detained. Police further used excessive force during strikes, including by the Union of Health Workers in Cabinda, and during a demonstration by the war veterans of the People’s Armed Forces for the Liberation of Angola (FAPLA) in Luanda. No one was held responsible for excessive use of force and arbitrary arrests during demonstrations in 2011.

  • In March, state media aired threats against anti-government protesters by an individual claiming to represent an anonymous group calling themselves defenders of national peace, security and democracy. Throughout the year, a number of unidentified men suspected of being aligned with the police infiltrated peaceful demonstrations and attacked demonstrators. On 22 May, a group of people meeting to organize a demonstration were attacked and beaten by unidentified assailants in Bairro Nelito Soares in Luanda. Also in May, organizers of demonstrations identified four individuals linked to the police whom they said were involved in attacks against peaceful demonstrators. Although police authorities claimed that investigations were being carried out into the televised threats and attacks, no one had been held responsible by the end of the year.
  • Police in Cabinda used batons and water canon against members of the Union of Health Workers who had been picketing outside the provincial hospital between 30 January and 3 February. On 3 February police blocked access to the hospital for the strikers, who moved on 4 February to the offices of the Syndicate of Unions. Police beat strikers and used a water canon to disperse the crowd whom they said were unlawfully demonstrating in close proximity to a government building. Seventeen women and five men were detained and released the same day.

Freedom of association was restricted.

  • The trial of 15 Presidential Guards from the Central Protection and Security Unit in the Military Bureau of the Angolan Presidency started in the Luanda Regional Military Court on 15 September. The guards were charged with “making collective demands” on the grounds that they had signed a petition on 11 September calling for fairer salaries, challenging the application process for junior officers’ posts and calling for improved social assistance in the event of death of immediate family. The trial continued at the end of the year.

Freedom of expression – journalists

Freedom of expression, particularly of the press, continued to be suppressed. Attempts were made to prevent publication of newspapers or articles which were seen as potentially anti-government. There were no further developments in the appeals by Armando Chicoca and William Tonet, convicted of defamation in 2011.