Above the law - police brutality in Angola

Angola's national police at a lecture

Angola's national police at a lecture


12 September 2007

Police in Angola are responsible for persistent human rights violations, with few perpetrators ever brought to justice.

A climate of arbitrary arrests and unlawful detention, torture and ill-treatment, deaths in police custody and extrajudicial executions is exposed in a new Amnesty International report. Officers that commit such abuses have almost total impunity.

Angolan police regulations force officers to comply with all orders from their superiors, irrespective of whether the instruction is unlawful or not.

"Due to the requirement of complete obedience in the Angolan police force, police officers often carry out orders without questioning the legality of their actions," said Muluka-Anne Miti, Amnesty International's researcher on Angola.

"This has resulted in officers participating in illegal actions, such as mass forced evictions and the beating of suspects and their families. Police perpetrators of such violent actions must be taken to court and brought to justice -- and the victims should receive full reparation for their suffering."

The Angolan National Police is relatively underdeveloped following the 27-year-long civil war, which ended in 2002. A 10-year police modernization plan has seen human rights training become part of the police training curriculum. However, Amnesty International continues to learn of police brutality and impunity.

In February 2007, Francisco Levi da Costa was found beaten to death in a cell in a police station in Luanda, the Angolan capital. It was reported that he had been brutally beaten by police for four consecutive days. The police stated that an investigation was being carried out – as they have in other similar cases - but these investigations have still not been concluded and no one has been held responsible for the deaths.

"The only way to stop the continuing human rights violations by the police is for police officers to be held accountable for their actions in a court of law," said Muluka-Anne Miti.

"The Angolan police must revise their disciplinary regulations to ensure that they contain provisions stipulating that all law enforcement officials have both a right and a duty not to obey unlawful orders -- particularly orders that could lead to a violation of human rights. It should also include provisions for the protection of officers who report or oppose such orders."

Angola: Above the Law: Police Accountability in Angola

Index Number: AFR 12/005/2007
Date Published: 12 September 2007
Categories: Africa, Angola

This report documents cases of human rights violations by the police in Angola between 2005 and 2007, which reveal a pattern of police abuse of power and the consistent failure to bring perpetrators of human rights violations to justice. It seeks to highlight the deficiencies in Angolan police accountability that contribute to, and exacerbate, these violations. The report concludes with recommendations for the improvement of police policies and practice, which, if fully implemented, would significantly contribute to a reduction in human rights violations by the police.

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