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Angola 2023

The authorities used excessive or unnecessary force to impede or prevent the right to peaceful assembly. In most cases, where such force was used, protesters were arbitrarily arrested or detained. At least five protesters and one bystander were unlawfully killed, including at least two children. The right to freedom of association was threatened. Teachers faced underpayment as well as non-payment of their salaries. Hundreds of people were forcibly evicted from their homes. The severe and prolonged drought in the south had a devastating impact on the rights to food and health, particularly for children.


There was limited progress in the human rights situation following a year of turmoil around the 2022 general elections. The National Action Plan for the Protection and Promotion of the Human Rights of Persons with Albinism, and the National Action Plan for Promotion of the Human Rights of Persons with Disabilities were adopted. However, the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities noted that Angola’s approach to disability was yet to meet international standards.

On 30 May, the government increased fuel prices from AOA 160 (USD 0.26) to AOA 300 (USD 0.49) per litre. The rising costs, due in part to Russia’s war in Ukraine, resulted in cost-of-living increases, which were compounded by high unemployment rates that disproportionately affected youth, and triggered further social unrest throughout the year.

Freedom of association

The Status of Non-Governmental Organizations bill (NGO bill) was approved by parliament on 25 May. NGOs criticized it on grounds that, if enacted, it would limit the right to association and give the executive excessive powers to interfere in their activities, including the power to audit, dissolve or limit the operations of associations. At the end of the year, the bill was awaiting debate before a special parliamentary committee and final approval by the president.

Freedom of peaceful assembly

The authorities repressed peaceful demonstrations using excessive or unnecessary force leading in some cases to unlawful killings, intimidation, beatings and arbitrary arrests or detention. Activists were arrested for joining protests, and others simply for being in the vicinity of protest action.

On 10 February, the Angolan National Police (PNA) prevented a vigil from going ahead in the capital Luanda and in Benguela on grounds of public security. Three NGOs – Union (Omunga), the Youth Movement for Local Authorities (Movimento Jovens pelas Autarquias) and Friends of Angola (Amigos de Angola) – had called for the vigil to demand the decentralization of government powers to local authorities.

On 18 February, the PNA prevented members of the judiciary from continuing a peaceful march in Luanda, saying that they were following orders from their “superiors”. Employees of the first and second instance courts, the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights, and the Attorney General’s Office had begun their march at the Luanda District Court to demand better working conditions, promotion prospects and pay.

The PNA stopped a protest by activists planned to take place at the Largo da Sagrada Familia church in Luanda on 6 April, to call for the release of the activist Gilson da Silva Moreira (also known as Tanaice Neutro), and to denounce the abusive use of administrative detention against activists. Gilson da Silva Moreira was arrested on 13 January 2022 on allegations of “outraging the state, its symbols, and organs”. In October 2022, he was given a suspended prison sentence of one year and three months but was kept in jail until his release on 23 June 2023, following pressure from national and international civil society organizations.

PNA officers used excessive or unnecessary force when they disrupted a march on 22 April, organized by the Movement of Angolan Students in Luanda. They arrested five activists, injuring one of them. The protesters were demanding a peaceful resolution to a salary dispute between the government and the National Union of Higher Education Teachers (SINPES).

On 17 June, PNA officers used tear gas against hundreds of demonstrators in Luanda and Benguela to prevent them from peacefully protesting at the fuel price rise of 30 May, parliament’s approval of the NGO bill and the Luanda City Council’s 22 May decision to ban women vendors (zungueiras) from trading on the streets. There were reports of unspecified numbers of protesters being detained and wounded in Luanda.

On 16 September, the PNA broke up a peaceful demonstration by motorcycle taxi drivers protesting at restrictions imposed by the Luanda City Council on various routes in the city. Seven civil society activists were detained, including Gilson da Silva Moreira (see above), Gildo das Ruas, Adolfo Campos and Abrao Pedro dos Santos. On 19 September, a Luanda court sentenced them to two years and five months’ imprisonment each.

Unlawful killings

Security forces killed at least five protesters and one bystander in their attempt to stop protests.

On 15 February, the PNA confirmed that a 16-year-old boy, known only as Serginho, who was killed the day before in Luanda’s Uije neighbourhood, had been shot by a police officer. The police said he was shot when officers tried to prevent clashes between rival groups during a protest by residents demanding better road conditions. The boy was not participating in the protest. According to the police, investigations to identify the officer responsible for the killing and bring him to account were ongoing at the end of the year.

Five people, including a 12-year-old boy, were killed and eight injured by PNA officers at a protest in Huambo province on 5 June. The protest had been organized by motorcycle taxi drivers against the fuel price rise. Police used tear gas and live ammunition to disperse the crowd and later said the killings and injuries were “unavoidable” and regrettable.1 The authorities did not launch an investigation into the events.

Arbitrary arrests and detentions

On 28 January, the PNA arrested 12 young people as they gathered for a march at the Largo das Heroínas monument in Luanda to demand the release of activists they considered to be political prisoners. The police dumped three of them – Laurinda Gouveia, Geraldo Dala and Matulunga César – 60km from Luanda, in Bengo province. There was no information as to the fate of the remaining nine.

Five activists were arrested by the PNA on 2 June in Benguela province, in front of the office for deputies of the provincial Benguela government, for protesting at parliament’s approval of the NGO bill. They were released by a court on 6 June, after paying a fine of AOA 50,000 (about USD 83).

Economic, social and cultural rights

The dispute between the teachers’ union, SINPES, and the government, which began on 27 February continued throughout the year. SINPES called on the government to comply with the memorandum of understanding signed by both parties in November 2021, which provided for, among other things, a monthly salary equivalent to USD 2,000 for a trainee assistant professor, and USD 5,000 for a full professor. They also demanded payment of outstanding salaries owed to them and to school administrators.

Forced evictions

On 27 February, officers from the PNA and the Criminal Investigation Service, with the support of the Viana municipal police, demolished about 300 houses in Zango 3 neighbourhood, section B in Luanda. Hundreds of people were left homeless. Residents who refused to leave their homes or gathered to protest were beaten and arrested. One of them, known only as Adilson, told human rights defenders that he was arrested and kept in a police station for five hours. According to residents, the demolitions were carried out to make way for a shopping complex.

Right to a healthy environment

In the south, the population continued to suffer the impact of severe and prolonged drought. According to UNICEF, 3.8 million people needed humanitarian assistance, 2 million of whom were children; 600,000 people needed health assistance, and 1 million were in need of nutrition assistance. The government failed to provide timely humanitarian relief, and needs were addressed mainly by NGOs or UN agencies like UNICEF and the World Food Programme.

  1. Angola: Police must exercise restraint during nationwide protests”, 9 June