The government continued to make commitments towards the provision of social housing. However, forced evictions persisted, including one of the largest carried out in recent years. Extrajudicial executions, excessive use of force, arbitrary arrests and detentions, and torture and other ill-treatment by police were reported. Human rights organizations faced less intimidation, although journalists were harassed and prosecuted for their work.
In September, President José Eduardo dos Santos marked 30 years as head of state. Presidential elections expected in 2009 were further postponed pending approval of a new Constitution. Three types of constitutional models were proposed and drafts of these were circulated for public debate. One version would allow for the President to be elected directly by parliament. No decisions on the models had been made by the end of the year. In December, President dos Santos announced that elections would probably not be held for another three years.
Heavy rains at the beginning of the year caused floods in many parts of the country. Tens of thousands of people lost their homes, including an estimated 25,000 people in the southern province of Cunene in March.
In September, Angola agreed a deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for loans of up to US$890 million.
Right to adequate housing – forced evictions
In July, the government announced that it would exempt some imported building materials from taxes in a bid to make housing more affordable for the poor. The same month it was announced that the USA would lend Angola US$400 million to help it build 1 million homes for the poor in the next five years.
Despite these initiatives, forced evictions continued. In July, over 3,000 families (an estimated 15,000 people) were forcibly evicted from the neighbourhoods of Bagdad and Iraque in Luanda. These evictions were on a larger scale than those seen in recent years. Government officials justified their actions by stating that those forcibly evicted had illegally occupied and built homes on land earmarked by the government for development. However, some of those evicted said that they had legal title to the land. There were also forced evictions in Benguela province and tens of thousands of families remained at risk of forced eviction throughout the country.
The police continued to carry out human rights violations, including excessive use of force and extrajudicial executions. Few officers were brought to justice and little information was made available about action taken against police for past human rights violations.
- At the end of January, a police officer in Namibe province chased and then shot dead Roberto Yava Chivondu as he travelled home on a motorbike. The police officer indicated for him to stop but he did not. The wife and niece of Roberto Yava Chivondu, who were also on the motorbike, were injured when they fell off after the shooting. The officer, who had allegedly killed someone else in a previous incident, was convicted of Roberto Yava’s killing in June by Namibe Provincial Court and sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment.
- In August, a police officer in Lobito city, Benguela province, shot Jorge Euclia in the abdomen during a police operation to arrest a group of young suspects. The officer fired three shots at Jorge Euclia as he tried to stop the police officer from beating his brother. Jorge Euclia needed intensive care treatment for his injuries but survived. The Benguela Provincial Police Commander stated that Jorge Euclia had been shot not by police but by one of the suspects. No investigation was carried out and no one was held responsible for the shooting.
- In September, the trial began before Luanda Provincial Court of seven police officers charged with killing eight youths in the Largo da Frescura area of Luanda in July 2008. The trial had not concluded by the end of the year.
Arbitrary arrests, torture and other ill-treatment
Arbitrary arrests and detentions by the police were reported. Most of the arrests were accompanied by excessive use of force. Police were also reported to have tortured and otherwise ill-treated detainees in Lunda Norte province.
- On 1 April, four members of the Commission of the Legal Sociological Manifesto of the Protectorate of Lunda Tchokwe in Lunda Norte province took a manifesto to the police command in Cuango, Lunda Norte province. There, the four men – Calixto Kulunga, Modesto Timóteo, Bento Majimo and Zeferino Rui Muatxingo – were reportedly arrested and beaten by police to obtain the names and addresses of other Commission members. This was followed by the arrest and detention of about 270 people who had been identified by the four men. The majority of those arrested were released. However, the four men and some 30 other members of the Commission remained in detention in the Conduege Prison in Lunda Norte, where they were allegedly tortured. They were to be tried in November for crimes against the state, but the trial was postponed.
Human rights defenders
In March, the Constitutional Court decided it was not competent to hear a case against the Association for Justice, Peace and Democracy. The case called for the closure of the association on the grounds that its founding documents breached Angolan law. The Constitutional Court sent the case to the Supreme Court for adjudication.
Freedom of expression – journalists
Journalists continued to face harassment in the form of lawsuits and other restrictions. At least three journalists were accused of abusing the media, while another received a suspended prison sentence for defamation. The editor of Folha 8 newspaper had his passport seized in May as he attempted to leave the country for Namibia. He was told that he was on a list of people forbidden from leaving the country.
- In July, the Director of A Capital newspaper was reportedly called in for questioning by the Criminal Police on suspicion of “attacking the honour and dignity of the head of state”, a criminal offence. The accusation was based on a complaint by the Public Prosecutor’s Office regarding an article that appeared in the paper criticizing the President. No decision had been made on the case by the end of the year.
- Also in July, Luanda Provincial Court sentenced journalist Eugénio Mateus to a three-month suspended prison term for defamation of the armed forces. The charges were brought as a result of a complaint by the army’s chief of staff for an article Eugénio Mateus had written in 2007 criticizing the army for, among other things, excessive drinking of alcohol.
Sporadic fighting continued in Cabinda province between the Armed Forces of Angola and the military wing of the Front for the Liberation of the Cabinda State (FLEC).
- The trial of five individuals arrested and charged with crimes against the state in Cabinda province in 2008 started in March. In May, four were acquitted and one was sentenced to 18 months in prison for possession of firearms. All five were released, including the one sentenced because of the time he had already spent in pre-trial detention.
- In August, prisoner of conscience José Fernando Lelo was released after he was acquitted on appeal by the Supreme Military Court, which ruled there was insufficient evidence to maintain the conviction. In September 2008, the Cabinda Military Court had sentenced him to 12 years in prison for crimes against the security of the state and instigating a rebellion. Also in August, the Supreme Military Court increased on appeal the sentences from 13 years to between 22 and 24 years of five soldiers sentenced with José Fernando Lelo in September 2008. The five had been convicted of attempted armed rebellion and other military crimes and sentenced to 13 years’ imprisonment.
The authorities continued to expel undocumented migrants, mainly nationals from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). However, many of those expelled claimed to have rights to remain in Angola. Towards the end of September, the DRC authorities began expelling Angolans in retaliation (see DRC entry).
The mass expulsions were carried out under deplorable conditions and accompanied by human rights violations, including physical and at times sexual violence by the armed forces. Large numbers of people were transported to borders in overcrowded vehicles and there were reports that some died of asphyxiation. Many family members, including children, were separated during the expulsions and those deported were left in remote areas without food and shelter. Refugees from both countries were affected by these expulsions.
In October, both countries agreed to stop the expulsions. The Angolan government worked with a UN inter-agency commission to deal with the resultant humanitarian situation in Uíge and Zaire provinces. No action was known to have been taken against anyone for the human rights violations that accompanied the expulsions.
Amnesty International visits/reports
- Applications for visas made by Amnesty International in October 2008 were not granted. In October 2009 Amnesty International lodged new applications but these too had not been granted by the end of the year.
- Unjust, unlawful, unacceptable: Forced evictions in Angola
- Angola: Submission to the UN Universal Periodical Review