Angola : Authorities must drop all pending charges in Rafael Marques de Morais’ defamation case


Paris-Geneva, May 28, 2015 – The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights
defenders (a joint programme of FIDH and the World Organisation against Torture – OMCT), strongly condemns the backtracking in journalist Rafael Marques de Morais’ defamation case, after the announcement of the public prosecutor to move forward with sentencing.

Only four days after the announcement of the Lunda Provincial Tribunal that charges against Mr. Marques de Morais had been dropped, on May 25, 2015, the public prosecutor declared his intention to move forward with a conviction. Arguing the failure by Mr. Marques de Morais to provide evidence, the public prosecutor requested a month imprisonment against the journalist.

After more than two years of continuous judicial harassment, solely based on Mr. Marques de Morais human rights activities, this last decision makes yet another mockery of justice in Angola ”, said Karim Lahidji, FIDH President.

Mr. Marques de Morais is a well-known Angolan journalist who has been facing continuous judicial harassment since the publication in 2011, of his book, “Blood Diamonds : Corruption and Torture in Angola”, in which he documents and denounces the corruption, allegations of homicides, torture, forced eviction of civilian settlements and intimidation of inhabitants of the diamond-mining areas of Angola’s Lundas region by some state agents and business entrepreneurs.

Originally facing nine charges for defamation, Mr. Marques de Morais was informed of fifteen additional charges being brought against him, shortly before the opening of his trial on March 24, 2015. Furthermore, several procedural irregularities have been observed since Mr. Marques de Morais was indicted in January 2013.

The harassment against Mr. Marques de Morais has also taken the form of cyber-attacks and cyber-espionage. His blog, Maka Angola, has been blocked on several occasions and his personal laptop has been attacked with malware programs.

The backtracking in Mr. Marques de Morais’ case raises serious concerns over the
respect of his right to a fair trial. Authorities must once and for all unconditionally
drop all pending charges against him
” concluded Gerald Staberock, OMCT Secretary General.

More generally, the Observatory calls upon authorities in Angola to ensure the respect of the rights of civil society in a country where, as documented in a recent Observatory report, human rights defenders and journalists remain subjected to judicial harassment, acts of intimidation, threats and other forms of restrictions to their freedom of association and expression.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (OBS) was created in 1997 by FIDH and OMCT. The objective of this programme is to intervene to prevent or remedy to situations of repression against human rights defender.

Lire la suite