Police must protect human rights and exercise restraint during upcoming nationwide protests against high fuel costs and restrictive laws aimed at limiting the work of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Angola, Amnesty International said today ahead of the demonstrations planned from 10 to 17 June.
Authorities have confirmed that five people were killed while eight others were injured during a protest against high fuel costs by taxi drivers on 5 June in Huambo Province. Amnesty International has received reports that 34 others were arrested for exercising their right to protest.
“The dispersal of protesters should always be an exceptional measure – a last resort only when non-violent means have been exhausted. Furthermore, the use of force in the dispersal of non-violent protests must be avoided. If it becomes absolutely necessary to use force, this must always be restricted to the minimum level necessary, and audible and clear prior warnings must be given. There must also be effective means of ensuring accountability for any force used,” said Tigere Chagutah, Amnesty International’s Director for East and Southern Africa.
The dispersal of protesters should always be an exceptional measure – a last resort only when non-violent means have been exhausted.Tigere Chagutah, Regional Director, East and Southern Africa, Amnesty International
Taxi drivers started protesting the high fuel prices on 5 June after the government’s decision to increase prices on 30 May. As a result, the price of gas has almost doubled from 160 kwanzas to 300 kwanzas/litre (0.26 USD to 0.49 USD).
Police used teargas and live ammunition to disperse the crowd during the 5 June protest in Huambo. Authorities confirmed that five people were killed, however this number has not been independently verified. Amnesty International has verified that the youngest victim was a 12-year-old child. Angolan National Police have claimed responsibility for the killings, saying: “It was unavoidable, and we regret the death of five citizens and the injury of others.”\
There must be a prompt, effective and impartial investigation into the events of 5 June to ensure that suspected perpetrators are brought to justiceTigere Chagutah
“We are calling for the Angolan police to stop using excessive force when policing protests. There must be a prompt, effective and impartial investigation into the events of 5 June to ensure that suspected perpetrators are brought to justice for the killing of the five protesters and for the injuries to eight others,” said Tigere Chagutah.
Angolan law enforcement officials regularly use excessive force to break up peaceful protests to suppress dissent.
On the 25th of May, the draft Law on the Statute of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) was approved by the National Assembly of Angola, ignoring harsh criticism from NGOs who say that the proposed law limits the right to association and gives the executive excessive powers to interfere in NGO activities. In 2017, a decree with the same intention of increasing control of NGOs was ruled unconstitutional by the Angolan constitutional court.
Four activists were detained for three days on 2 June for peacefully protesting the NGO Bill in front of the Provincial government and national assembly. They were released on 5 June but were issued with 30 days fine of 50,000 Kwanzas (80 USD) each.
The right to protest is under unprecedented and growing threat across all regions of the world. Amnesty International is running a global campaign to confront states’ widening and intensifying efforts to erode this human right.