Angola: Continued arbitrary detention at Calomboloca Prison of fourteen pro-democracy activists

URGENT APPEAL - THE OBSERVATORY

New information
AGO 001 / 0615 / OBS 053.1
Arbitrary detention /
Judicial harassment
Angola
October 12, 2015

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (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 continued arbitrary detention at Calomboloca Prison of fourteen pro-democracy activists, namely Messrs. Henrique Luaty Beirão (a.k.a. Brigadeiro Mata-Frakuxz), Manuel Nito Alves, Nuno Alvaro Dala, Nelson Dibango Mendes Dos Santos, Alfonso Jojo Matias (a.k.a. Mbanza Hamza), Sedrick de Carvalho, Fernando António Tómas (a.k.a. Nicola Radical), Hitler Chiconda (a.k.a. Samussuku), Italiano Arante Kivuvu, Benedito Dali (a.k.a. Dito Dali), Albano Bingobingo (a.k.a. Albano Liberdade), José Gomes Hata (a.k.a. Cheik Hata), Inocénio De Brito (a.k.a. Drux) and Domingos da Cruz, journalist, and Mr. Osvaldo Correia Caholo, a reserve military officer acquainted to one of the fourteen, detained at Kakila Prison.

According to the information received, on September 16, 2015, the office of the Prosecutor confirmed the charges of “crime of preparatory acts to practice rebellion” (Article 21) and “plotting against the President and other sovereign institutions” (Article 53) against the 14 pro-democracy activists arrested in June 2015 as well as against Ms. Rosa Kusso Conde and Ms. Laurinda Manuel Gouveia, two regular attendees of book club meetings to discuss human rights violations and governance concerns in Angola. Both provisions are in reference of Article 28 of the Law 23/10 of December 3, 2010 on Crimes against Security of the State. Ms. Conde and Ms. Gouveia are not currently in detention and are waiting for their judgement trial in the same case as the above-mentioned fourteen activists.

In addition to the charges indicated above, Mr. Osvaldo Correia Caholo is also being charged with “misappropriation of documents” (Article 424 of the Penal Code), Mr. Manuel Nito Alves with “illegal alteration of his name/identity” (Article 234) and Mr. Henrique Luaty Beirão with three crimes of falsification of documents (Article 216). The seventeen have been referred to the Provincial Court of Luanda.

It is reported that although the Public Ministry formally signed the accusations on September 16, 2015, it was only on September 30 that the defence lawyers and families of the detainees were informed of the charges, following a press conference they organised.

The Observatory strongly condemns the ongoing arbitrary detention of the fourteen pro-democracy activists together with Osvaldo Correia Caholo and calls upon the Angola authorities to immediately release them and drop all charges against them as well as against Ms. Rosa Kusso Conde and Ms. Laurinda Manuel Gouveia, as they are clearly aimed at hindering their peaceful human rights activities.

Moreover, the Observatory has been informed that Mr. Henrique Luaty Beirão has been on a hunger strike for 19 days now in order to protest against his imprisonment. It is reported that his physical condition has worryingly deteriorated.

The Observatory is deeply concerned about Mr. Henrique Luaty Beirão physical and psychological integrity.

Background information:

On June 20, 2015, thirteen pro-democracy activists [1] 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.

On the same day, following their arrest, the Director General of the Criminal Investigative Service issued a statement saying that they were being accused of “preparing acts aimed at disrupting public order and security in the country”. It was later reported that they are being charged with “rebellion”, “attempted coup d’Etat” and “crimes against national security”.

Furthermore, on June 21, 2015, Mr. Domingos da Cruz was also arrested. Mr. da Cruz was initially supposed to take part in the meeting as a speaker, but he finally did not attend the meeting.

On June 24, Mr. Osvaldo Caholo, a reserve military personnel and university professor, was arrested after the police found photos of him during a search conducted in the residence of one of the thirteen youth activists.

On June 30, 2015, Captain Muhondo Zenóbio Lázaro was subsequently arrested on the grounds of his alleged links with Mr. Osvaldo Caholo (they were classmate). To date, no further information is available on the situation of Captain Zenóbio Lázaro.

Most of those arrested and detained are pro-democracy activists (except Messrs. Osvaldo Caholo and Zenóbio Lázaro), who have been organizing peaceful protests against the 35-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.

It was also reported that the authorities are making threats against the mothers of the young prisoners who are getting mobilised. The ruling People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola - MPLA) party has indeed prevented any kind of mobilisation organised by supporters asking for their release; and a peaceful demonstration by relatives of the prisoners that was organised in Luanda on August 8, 2015 was met with attacks and was violently repressed by the security forces on the ground.

Actions requested:

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

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Messrs. Henrique Luaty Beirão, Manuel Nito Alves, Nuno Alvaro Dala, Nelson Mendes Dos Santos, Alfonso Jojo Matias, Sedrick de Carvalho, Fernando António Tómas, Hitler Chiconda, Italiano Arante Kivuvu, Benedito Dali, Albano Bingobingo, José Gomes Hata, Inocénio De Brito, Domingos da Cruz as well as Ms. Rosa Kusso Conde and Ms. Laurinda Manuel Gouveia, as well as all those unduly associated with the above-mentioned case such as Mr. Osvaldo Caholo and all human rights defenders in Angola;

ii. Release the above-mentioned 16 pro-democracy activists as well as all those unduly associated with the above-mentioned case immediately and unconditionally, as well as all human rights defenders currently in detention, since their detention is arbitrary as it only aims at curtailing their human rights activities;

iii. Put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against the above-mentioned sixteen pro-democracy activists and all those unduly associated with the above-mentioned case such as Mr. Osvaldo Caholo 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 Article 1, which provides that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”;
- its Article 6(c), which foresees that “everyone has the right, to study, discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, both in law and in practice, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and, through these and other appropriate means, to draw public attention to those matters”;
- its Article 12.2, which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”;

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:

· H.E. José Eduardo dos Santos, President of the Republic of Angola, Rua 17 de Setemro, Cidade Alta, Luanda República de Angola
· H.E. Manuel Domingos Vicente, Vice-President of the Republic of Angola, Rua 17 de Setemro, Cidade Alta, Luanda República de Angola
· Mr. Ângelo de Barros Veiga Tavares, Minister of Interior, Avenida 4 de Fevereiro n.º 106, Luanda República de Angola ; Tel : 222390423
· Mr. Rui Jorge Carneiro Mangueira, Minister of Justice and Human Rights, Rua 17 de Setemro, Cidade Alta, Luanda República de Angola
· H.E. Mr. Apolinário Jorge Correia, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Angola to the United Nations Office in Geneva, Rue de Lausanne 45-47 CH-1201 Genève – Suisse, +41 22 732 30 60, E-mail : contact@mission-angola.ch
· H.E. Elizabeth Simbrão, Ambassador, Embassy of Angola in Brussels, Rue Franz Merjay 182 1050 Brussels, Belgium, Phone : (+32) 2.346.18.72 Fax : (+32) 2.344.08.94, Email : angola.embassy.brussels@skynet.be

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

Paris-Geneva, October 12, 2015

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
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