Angola: Ongoing judicial harassment of Mr. Rafael Marques de Morais

Urgent Appeal

AGO 001 / 0615 / OBS 071.1
Judicial harassment
April 3, 2018

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 ongoing judicial harassment of Mr. Rafael Marques de Morais, award-winning investigative journalist known for his articles denouncing corruption [1].

According to the information received, on March 19, 2018, Mr. Rafael Marques de Morais appeared before the Criminal Court of the Province of Luanda facing charges of “outrage towards a sovereign body” (ultraje ao órgão de soberania – in this instance former President José Eduardo dos Santos) under Article 25, paragraph 1 of the Law on Crimes against the State Security and Article 105, paragraph 1 of the Angolan Constitution, and “insult towards public authority” (injúrias contra autoridade pública – in this instance former Attorney General João Maria Moreira de Sousa) under Article 181 of the Angolan Penal Code. If convicted, he faces up to four years and six months in prison.

These charges relate to an article published on the anti-corruption website Maka Angola in November 2006 [2]. In the article, Mr. Rafael Marques de Morais exposed the illegality of Angola’s former Attorney General, Mr. João Maria Moreira de Sousa [3], activities as a property and real estate developer in addition to his legal duties, action which violates the “Principle of exclusive dedication” enshrined in the Angolan Constitution. The article also reported that the President, Mr. José Eduardo dos Santos, supported some of his subordinates who had been accused corruption.

In addition, Mr. Mariano Brás, Director of the fortnight weekly newspaper O Crime also appeared in court facing charges of “defamation against public authority” under Article 181 of the Penal Code for having reproduced and disseminated the information collected by the investigative journalist [4].

During the hearing, the plaintiffs’ lawyers submitted a last-minute request to postpone the trial sine die and requested the trial’s proceedings to be held in camera (i.e. closed to the public). The Court rejected their demands. The defence lawyers argued that the information reported by Mr. Rafael Marques de Morais was of public interest and supported by sufficient evidence. Consequently, they requested the action to be dismissed.

The trial was postponed to April 16, 2018, due to the absence of the main plaintiff, former Attorney General João Maria Moreira de Sousa.

A civil case based on the same facts is also pending against Mr. Rafael Marques de Morais (see background information).

The Observatory recalls that this is not the first time Mr. Rafael Marques de Morais is being targeted for his legitimate and peaceful human rights activities. After the publication in 2011 of his book, “Blood Diamonds: Corruption and Torture in Angola [5], he has faced continuous judicial harassment [6]. 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 May 28, 2015 for committing “slanderous denunciation” against 12 individuals, including members of the armed forces. He was sentenced to six months suspended jail term.

Under José Eduardo dos Santos’ administration, the Observatory had documented numerous cases of harassment, including judicial and administrative harassment, acts of intimidation, threats and other forms of restrictions to their freedom of association and expression targeting human rights defenders and journalists denouncing issues deemed to be sensitive such as corruption, bad governance, forced demolitions, forced evictions or the human rights situation in Cabinda [7].

Thus, the Observatory particularly deplores the ongoing judicial harassment of Mr. Rafael Marques de Moraisdespite new President Joao Lourenço’s promises to fight corruption and to open the democratic space, and urges the Angolan authorities to end all forms of harassment against him, including at the judicial level and to ensure respect for freedom of association and expression.

Background information:

On December 26, 2016, the Criminal Investigation Service called Mr. Rafael Marques de Morais for interrogation. On May 25, 2017, the then-Attorney General, Mr. João Maria de Sousa, acting as a private citizen, filed a civil lawsuit against Mr. Rafael Marques de Morais under the offences of “abuse of press freedom” under Article 74, paragraph 2, d of the former Media Law No. 7/06, “slander” under Article 7 of the Penal Code, and “defamation” under Article 410 of the Penal Code.

On June 20, 2017, the Office of the Attorney General came up with new charges against Mr. Rafael Marques de Morais: “outrage towards a sovereign body”, in this instance former President José Eduardo dos Santos, “insult towards public authority”, in this instance former Attorney General João Maria Moreira de Sousa.

Actions requested:

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

i. Put an end to all forms of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Mr. Rafael Marques de Morais and all human rights defenders in Angola so that they are able to carry their peaceful and legitimate human rights activities without any hindrance or fear of reprisals;

ii. In the meantime, ensure that any judicial proceedings against Mr. Rafael Marques de Morais 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. 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;

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.


· President of the Republic of Angola, H.E. João Lourenço, Civil House, Fax : +244 222 370 366
· Minister of justice and human rights, Mr. Francisco Manuel Monteiro de Queiroz, Fax: +244 222 330 327
· Director of National Center of Human Rights, Ms. Ana Celeste Januario, Fax: +244 222 333 407; Email: and
· Ambassador Mr. Apolinário Jorge Correia, Permanent Mission of Angola to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: + +41 22 732 30 72; Email:
· Ms. Elizabeth Simbrão; Ambassador of Angola to 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:

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


Paris-Geneva, April 3, 2018

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, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
· E-mail:
· 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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