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Angola

    June 17, 2016

    Angolan authorities must immediately and unconditionally release the 17 activists arrested on trumped up charges, said Amnesty International today as demonstrations take place in several cities around the world to mark the first anniversary of their arrest.

    The 17 were charged with “preparatory acts of rebellion” (actos preparatórios de rebelião) and “criminal conspiracy” and handed down conviction and sentences ranging from two and eight-and-a-half years after being arrested for attending a meeting where they discussed politics and governance concerns.

    “One year on, it is completely unacceptable that these 17 activists are still in prison when there was no basis for their arrest in the first place,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for Southern Arica.

    “By keeping these young innocent activists behind bars for a year now, Angolan authorities have grossly violated their rights. Their sentences must be overturned and they must be immediately and unconditionally released.”

    Amnesty International considers them prisoners of conscience.

    May 20, 2016

    Today’s release of human rights defender, José Marcos Mavungo, after the Angola Supreme Tribunal upheld his appeal against a six year sentence is a long overdue triumph for justice, said Amnesty International.

    He has served over a year in prison following his arrest on 14 March 2015. He was convicted on 14 September for ‘rebellion’ for his involvement in organizing a peaceful demonstration. Amnesty International considered him a prisoner of conscience.

    “José Marcos Mavungo was merely exercising his rights to freedom of assembly and association and his arrest and subsequent trial on rebellion charge was a travesty of justice,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for Southern Africa.

    “Whilst his release is cause for celebration, José Marcos Mavungo should never have spent a single minute in jail. The decision by the Angola Supreme Tribunal demonstrates that there are still judges who are guided by the rule of law.”

    Background

    March 29, 2016

     The guilty verdict and sentences of jail term handed down to 17 activists on 28 March 2016 by the Luanda Provincial Tribunal are an affront to justice that must be reversed, said Amnesty International as it called for their immediate and unconditional release as Prisoners of Conscience.

    The activists were condemned to jail terms ranging from two years to eight years and six months.

    The organisation also believes that the court’s decision for each of the 17 activists to cover legal costs of approximately 315 US Dollars is a mockery of justice.

    “Today’s unjustifiable conviction and draconian sentences against these peaceful activists who should never have been detained at all demonstrate how Angolan authorities use the criminal justice system to silence dissenting views. This ruling flies in the face of justice,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for Southern Africa.

    “The activists have been wrongly convicted in a deeply politicized trial. They are the victims of a government determined to intimidate anyone who dares to question its repressive policies.”

    December 18, 2015

    The decision by authorities to move 15 Angolan human rights activists from detention to house arrest today is encouraging but falls far short of the unconditional release that they should be immediately granted, said Amnesty International.

    “Shifting the Angola 15 from pre-trial detention to house arrest is not enough to guarantee their rights to liberty and security. The fact that they activists will be home for Christmas will is a welcome but they should not have spent a single day in prison in the first place,” said Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southern Africa

    “The activists are not only still facing trial on trumped-up charges but the onerous conditions imposed during their house arrest violate their right to liberty and to communicate with the outside world.”

    Background

    The 15 activists and two others have been on trial since 16 November 2015.

    Amnesty International regards the Angola 15 as prisoners of conscience and are calling for their immediate and unconditional release.

    November 13, 2015

    The trial of 15 peaceful activists who have been held unlawfully for almost five months and charged with preparing “rebellion and a coup attempt” will be a crucial test for the independence of Angola’s judiciary, said Amnesty International ahead of their expected court appearance on 16 November 2015.

    The 15 men were arrested and detained by Angolan security forces between 20 and 24 June 2015 in Luanda after attending a meeting to discuss politics and governance concerns. Amnesty International considers them to be prisoners of conscience and it is calling for their immediate and unconditional release.
     
    “The continued detention of the 15 activists amounts to a travesty of justice as they have been arrested solely for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of association and expression,” said Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southern Africa.

    “The charges against them must be dropped and state authorities must ensure their immediate and unconditional release.”

    November 10, 2015

    Posted at 0001hrs CAT   11 November 2015

    President José Eduardo dos Santos’s tightening stranglehold on freedom of expression in Angola and his government’s decades of fear and repression will cast an indelible stain on the 40th anniversary of the country’s independence, said Amnesty International today.

    As dignitaries and foreign leaders gather in the capital Luanda to mark four decades of independence, at least 16 activists continue to languish in Angolan jails.

    “40 years after independence, many Angolans still have a long way before they realize their human rights freedoms. Those who express views that differ from those of the regime are subjected to brutal treatment. Independence should also be about people being allowed to freely express themselves,” said Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southern Africa.

    “Many human rights defenders are suffering in jail merely for asking for accountability and respect for human rights. The state is using police and the judiciary to entrench fear and to silence critical voices.”

    October 20, 2015

    The continued detention of prisoner of conscience, Luaty Beirão, is a shocking example of the lengths to which Angolan authorities will go to suppress dissent, Amnesty International said today as he marked one month on hunger strike protesting against his detention.

    The imprisoned activist and musician is believed to be in critical condition in Clinica Girassol private hospital in Luanda, where he was transferred to on 15 October 2015. Amnesty International is calling today for his immediate and unconditional release.

    “As Luaty enters his second month on hunger strike, we believe his health is now in critical condition and his life may be at risk. His original detention was an affront to freedom of expression and now the authorities seem intent on compounding this shocking injustice by keeping him in detention,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for Southern Africa.

    “All charges against Luaty, and his co-accused, must be dropped and he must be immediately and unconditionally released.”

    September 15, 2015

    The conviction and six-year prison sentence imposed on human rights activist José Marcos Mavungo is a travesty of justice and a blatant violation of the right to freedom of expression, association and assembly in Angola, said five human rights organizations today.

    The organizations, the South African Litigation Centre (SALC), Lawyers for Human Rights, Front Line Defenders, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) and Amnesty International are calling for his immediate and unconditional release. Amnesty International considers him a prisoner of conscience.

    “The conviction of José Marcos Mavungo politically motivated and is the latest example of suppression of freedom of expression and blatant disregard for human rights in the country,” said Muluka Miti-Drummond, Regional Advocacy Director at the Southern Africa Litigation Centre. 

    “It comes days after the European Parliament’s resolution on Angola calling on the authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all human rights defenders, including José Marcos Mavungo, and to drop all charges against them.” 

    September 11, 2015

    Angolan authorities must drop the charge of “rebellion” against human rights activist José Marcos Mavungo and immediately and unconditionally free him, Amnesty International said today ahead of the court’s final decision on his case on 14 September 2015.

    “The trial against José Marcos Mavungo had nothing to do with justice. Instead it was designed to silence him and intimidate other human rights defenders in Angola,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for Southern Africa.

    “This trial is indicative of the shrinking human rights space in the country and Angolan authorities must release him and stop intimidating dissenting voices.”
    José Marcos Mavungo, who spent six months in pre-trial detention, was charged with “rebellion” after he was arrested on 14 March 2015 for helping to organize a peaceful demonstration against bad governance in Cabinda Province.

    Amnesty International considers him to be a prisoner of conscience.

    July 23, 2015

    The detention of four human rights activists and a journalist is the latest sign of an increasing crackdown on dissent and blatant violations of the rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association in Angola, said Amnesty International today.

    The four activists and a Radio Deutsche Welle correspondent were detained for over eight hours yesterday during a visit to Calomboloca prison, Luanda Province, where they were visiting prisoners of conscience jailed last month. On their release they were ordered to present themselves to the Municipal prosecutor for a hearing today.

    “The arbitrary detention of these activists is a clear ploy by the Angolan police and authorities to harass and intimidate anyone who associates with those standing up against the oppressive regime. These tactics are designed to close the space for freedom of expression, assembly and association and this must stop,” said Noel Kututwa, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southern Africa.

    June 22, 2015

    Angolan authorities must immediately and unconditionally release a group of activists arrested in Luanda on 20 June 2015, Amnesty International said today. The organization believes that the arrest of the group is a ploy to suppress dissenting voices and freedom of peaceful assembly in the country.

    The more than a dozen activists were arrested in Luanda where they were attending a meeting to discuss human rights violations and governance concerns under president José Eduardo dos Santos, who has been in power for the past 36 years.

    “This is yet another attempt by the Angolan authorities to intimidate anyone who has a differing view in the country. The authorities must immediately and unconditionally release the detained activists, who are prisoners of conscience, and stop intimidating human rights activists,” said Noel Kututwa, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southern Africa.

    Police have also carried out searches without warrants and seized IT hardware from homes of some of the people they suspected of taking part in the meeting.

    May 27, 2015

    Angola’s authorities must abandon efforts to resuscitate the criminal defamation case against investigative journalist Rafael Marques de Morais, said Amnesty International today.

    Rafael Marques de Morais is due to appear in court on 28 May 2015 for sentencing.

    On 25 May the Public Prosecutor in his trial requested that the judge convict him of criminal defamation and sentence him to 30 days in prison, despite a settlement agreement last week which resulted in more than 20 defamation charges against him being dropped. 

    “The Public Prosecutor’s request for Rafael Marques de Morais to be found guilty of criminal defamation is a clear sign of abuse of the judiciary to intimidate those who dare to speak truth to power in Angola,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for Southern Africa.

    “This prosecution must not go ahead, and the Attorney General and Public Prosecutor must unconditionally drop all charges against him following the terms of the agreement negotiated in open court.”

    May 25, 2015

    Diamonds. Murder. Torture. Broken promises. Important officials. International players. All the elements of a gripping narrative told in a Hollywood blockbuster. Except this isn’t fiction, and the person on trial was the journalist who made sure the world knew the story.

    Rafael Marques de Morais, Angolan journalist and human rights defender, spent the last nearly three years defending his right to tell what happened to the miners and villagers in the Lunda Norte diamond fields region.

    He alleged in a book that seven Angolan generals and two mining companies were complicit in the human rights violations he documented. Those generals and the companies then sued him for criminal defamation, first in Portugal where the book was published and then in Angola.


     

    On May 21st, 2015, Rafael Marques de Morais walked out of court a free man.

    He was facing over 10 years in prison and a fine of $1.2 million US dollars but all charges were dropped.

    May 21, 2015

     

    The dropping of criminal libel charges against Angolan journalist, Rafael Marques de Morais, by the Luanda Provincial Tribunal is a victory for freedom of expression and human rights in the country, said Amnesty International today. The court dropped all charges after his appearance in court on 21 May 2015.

    Amnesty International calls on the Angolan government to stop further targeting him for doing his work

    “The dropping of the charges against Rafael Marques de Morais is a clear demonstration that there was no case against him as we have been saying from the beginning. As a journalist, whose only crime was to document human rights violations in the country, we believe that he has always been innocent,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International's Regional Director for Southern Africa.

    May 13, 2015

    The continued detention of two human rights defenders held on fabricated charges of ‘crimes against the security of the state’ is a blatant oppression of freedom of expression and a mockery of justice in Angola, said Amnesty International and four other human rights organizations two months after the men were arrested.

    Jose Marcos Mavungo and Arão Bula Tempo were arrested on 14 March 2015 solely for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression and assembly in the country’s Cabinda region.

    Amnesty International, Lawyers for Human Rights, the Southern Africa Litigation Centre, the International Commission of Jurists and the SADC Lawyers' Association are calling for their immediate and unconditional release.

    “The use of state security and other crimes to punish those expressing critical opinions in Angola is nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to crush dissent,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for Southern Africa.

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