Angola: Judicial harassment of the ward-winning investigative journalist, Mr. Rafael Marques de Morais

12/07/2017
Urgent Appeal

AGO 001 / 0615 / OBS 080
Judicial harassment
Angola
July 12, 2017

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

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the judicial harassment of Mr. Rafael Marques de Morais, an award-winning [1] investigative journalist known for his articles denouncing corruption.

According to the information received, on June 20, 2017, the Office of the Attorney General indicted Mr. Rafael Marques de Morais under two charges: “outrage towards a sovereign body” (ultraje ao órgão de soberania) (Article 25, par. 1 of the Law on Crimes against the State Security and Art. 105, par. 1 of the Angola Constitution), and “insult towards public authority” ( injúrias contra autoridade pública) (Article 181 of the Penal Code), which carry a total penalty of up to six years of prison.

Additionally to those accusations, on May 25, 2017, the Attorney General, Mr. João Maria de Sousa as a private citizen, filed a lawsuit against Mr. Rafael Marques de Morais under the offences of “abuse of press freedom” (Article 74, par. 2, d of the former Media Law No. 7/06), “slander” (Article 7 of the Penal Code), and “defamation” (Article 410 of the Penal Code).

The accusations are related to an article published on the anti-corruption website, Maka Angola. In the article, Mr. Rafael Marques de Morais exposed the illegality of Angola’s Attorney General, Mr. João Maria Moreira de Sousa, to act as a property and real estate developer in addition to his legal duties, action which violates the “Principle of Exclusive Dedication” enshrined in the Constitution. The article also brought to the spotlight the support of the President, Mr. José Eduardo dos Santos, towards his subordinates corrupted acts in violation of constitutional rules.

The Observatory recalls that this is not the first incident targeting Mr. Rafael Marques de Morais. After the publication in 2011 of his book, “Blood Diamonds: Corruption and Torture in Angola” [2], he has faced continuous judicial harassment [3]. Following its publication, eight Angolan generals and two private mining companies sued Mr. Marques de Morais for defamation – twice in Portugal where the book was originally published and once in Angola. Mr. Marques de Morais was found guilty by the Luanda Provincial Tribunal on 28 May 2015 for committing “slanderous denunciation” against 12 individuals, including members of the armed forces. He was sentenced to six months suspended jail term.

The Observatory strongly condemns the judicial harassment of Mr. Rafael Marques de Morais. The Observatory believes the accusations are linked to his human rights work, and consequently urges Angolan judicial authorities to end all forms of harassment against him.

Actions requested:

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

i. Drop all the charges against Mr. Rafael Marques de Morais and, in the meantime, ensure that any judicial proceedings against him is carried out in full compliance with the defendants’ right to a fair trial, as protected under international law;

iii. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Rafael Marques de Morais as well as of all human rights defenders in Angola;

iv. Put an end to all forms of harassment, including at judicial level, against Mr. Rafael Marques de Morais, as well as all human rights defenders in Angola;

v. Comply with all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, in particular its Articles 1, 12.1 and 12.2;

vi. 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:

· President of the Republic of Angola, H.E. José Eduardo dos Santos, Civil House, Fax : +244 222 370 366
· Minister of Justice and Human Rights, Mr. Rui Jorge Carneiro Mangueira, Fax: +244 222 330 327; Email: rui.mangueira@minjus.gov.ao
· Director of National Center of Human Rights, Ms. Ana Celeste Januario, Fax: +244 222 333 407; Email: ana.januario@minjusdh.gov.ao and celestejanuario5@yahoo.com
· Ambassador Mr. Apolinário Jorge Correia, Permanent Mission of Angola to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: + +41 22 732 30 72; Email: ambmission.angola@bluewin.ch
· Ms. Elizabeth Simbrão; Ambassador of Angola in the Kingdom of Belgium, in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and Diplomatic Mission at the European Union; Fax: Fax: +32 2 344 08 94; Email: info@angolaembassy.be

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

***

Paris-Geneva, July 12, 2017

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

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH. The objective of this programme is to intervene to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. OMCT and FIDH are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu , the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

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

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