Angola: Conditional release and ongoing judicial harassment of 16 pro-democracy activists

13/07/2016
Urgent Appeal

New information
AGO 001 / 0615 / OBS 053.4
Provisional release / Judicial harassment
Angola
July 13, 2016

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Angola.

New information:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the conditional release and ongoing judicial harassment of 16 pro-democracy activists, namely Messrs. Henrique Luaty Beirão, Nuno Alvaro Dala, Nelson Dibango Mendes Dos Santos, Alfonso Joao Matias (“M’banza Hamza”), Sedrick de Carvalho, Fernando António Tómas, Hitler Chiconda (“Samussuku”), Italiano Arante Kivuvu, Benedito Jeremias (“Dito Dali”), Albano Evaristo Bingobingo, José Gomes Hata, Inocêncio De Brito, Manuel Nito Alves and Ms. Rosa Kusso Conde, Ms. Laurinda Manuel Gouveia, journalist Mr. Domingos da Cruz as well as Mr. Osvaldo Correia Caholo, a reserve military officer acquainted to one of the 16.

According to the information received, on June 29, 2016, the Supreme Court of Angola ordered the conditional release of the 16 activists and Mr. Osvaldo Correia Caholo following the Supreme Court’s decision on the habeas corpus. All were provisionally released the same day except Mr. Nito Alves, who was also serving a six-month jail term for contempt of Court. The latter was released on July 5, 2016 by the Constitutional Court. The Court considered that his trial was violating some of his constitutional rights.

They are not allowed to leave the country and have to appear before the Luanda Provincial Court every month.

The Observatory welcomes the release of the 16 activists and Mr. Osvaldo Correia Caholo but deplores the continuing judicial harassment against them, which seems to merely aim at sanctioning their human rights activities.

The Observatory calls upon the Angola authorities to put an end to any kind of harassment, including at the judicial level, against them as well as against all human rights defenders in Angola.

Until the charges are dropped against them, the Observatory further urges the Angolan authorities to ensure that all judicial proceeding against them are carried out in full compliance with their right to a fair trial, as protected under international law.

Background information:

On June 20, 2015, 13 pro-democracy activists were arrested by the police while participating in a book club meeting to discuss human rights violations and governance concerns in Angola. The police carried out searches without warrants and seized IT hardware from homes of some of the people they suspected of taking part in the meeting. Others were arrested a few days later.

Most of the young people arrested and detained were pro-democracy activists (except lieutenant Osvaldo Caholo and Zenóbio Lázaro) who have been organising peaceful protests against the 36-year-regime of Angolan President Eduardo Dos Santos since 2011. These protests were often shut down after only five minutes and protesters were sometimes arrested and tortured.

On November 16, 2015, the trial finally opened against 16 pro-democracy activists and Osvaldo Caholo before the Luanda Provincial Tribunal [1]. Several of the accused were subjected to acts of ill-treatment and violence during their arrest and detention. Some of them out of despair or to alert the general public on their ordeal, attempted suicide or participated to hunger strikes.

On March 28, 2016, the Luanda Provincial Tribunal sentenced the 16 pro-democracy activists and Osvaldo Caholo to jail terms ranging from two years and three months to eight years and six months for the alleged crimes of “preparatory acts of rebellion” (Article 21 of the Criminal Code) and “association of criminals” (Article 263), among other charges.

On May 31, 2016, the WGAD released an opinion regarding the detention of the young rights activists [2]. They concluded that their detention was arbitrary as “these individuals were arrested and detained because of the exercise of their freedom of assembly, opinion and expression” and asked for their immediate release.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities in Angola, urging them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of the 16 pro-democracy activists and Osvaldo Caholo;

ii. Immediately and unconditionally drop all charges against the 16 pro-democracy activists and Osvaldo Caholo, release all human rights defenders detained in Angola, as these restrictive measures seem to merely sanction their human rights activities;

iii. Put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against the 16 activists and all those associated with the above-mentioned case and all human rights defenders in Angola;

iv. Comply with all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, in particular with its Articles 1, 6(c) and 12.2;

v. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Angola.

Addresses:

• Mr. Rui Jorge Carneiro Mangueira, Minister of Justice and Human Rights of Angola, Fax: +244 222 370 150 / 222 370 366 /+244 222 330 327, Email: rui.mangueira@minjus.gov.ao
• H.E. Mr. Apolinário Jorge Correia, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Angola to the United Nations Office in Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: +41 22 732 30 72, E-mail: contact@mission-angola.ch
• H.E. Elizabeth Simbrão, Ambassador, Embassy of Angola in Brussels, Belgium, Fax: +32 23440894, E-mail: angola.embassy.brussels@skynet.be

Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of Angola in your respective country.

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  • Co-signatories

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    Paris-Geneva, July 13, 2016

    Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

    The Observatory, an FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of human rights defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.

    To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
    • E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
    • Tel and fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
    • Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29

  • Member organisations - Angola
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    Angola
    Avenida Comandante Valódia Prédio N.º 253, 2.º Andar, Porta C/Direita / Sambizanga
    Luanda
    +244 222 430 300
    +244 222 430 299

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