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The human rights are the basic rights which belong to every person from birth to death. The human rights can be restricted for some time but can never be taken away. These are defined and protected by law. The basic rights are founded on the shared values like equality, fairness, dignity, respect and independence. Angola is a west-coast country of Southern African nation. It is the 7th largest country in Africa. Angola is a member state of OPEC, United Nations, African union, the Southern African Economic Development Community and more. Angola has been criticized for its record of human rights. The major important human rights abuses are official corruption and impunity, limits on the freedom of assembly, association, speech, press and cruel and excessive punishment.
This report is going to discuss human right issue which is limits on the freedom of assembly, association, speech and press. The constitution and law of Angola prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, gender, disability, religion, language or social status. But the government did not effectively enforce these prohibitions. Angola’s 2010 constitution assures right to the freedom of expression and media. The government of the Angola is assumed to be engage in the illegal surveillance of the journalists and the government opponents. The journalists in the Angola are arrested, stressed and charged with defamation. Some journalists are even accused of shooting, wounding, vandalism and burglary. The business organizations are also hassled by the government to withdraw advertising from the media which is critical.
Human rights issue
The authorities in Angola continued to violate human rights laws by contradicting citizens the right to peaceful protest. The security forces obstructed peaceful anti-government protests with extortion, excessive force and uninformed detention. The government owns and keeps the tight control over the largest media outlets in Angola. It comprises television channels and the radio station. Some of the outlets have national reach which makes government owned media to the most widely accessed news sources. The independent news outlets face pressure because of the denial of state and private advertising. It continues to be problem for news outlets. The authorities used to occasionally seize edition of newspapers which comprised critical information. Some examples of the human rights issues can be understood from the examples such as since 2011, the security forces and the agents in civilian clothes viciously cracked down a series of peaceful protests. The plainclothes agents viciously confronted detects and journalists covering the events in various cases. In many cases, police subjectively detained protesters, some of them were prosecuted and penalized to prison sentences. Police briefly imprisoned journalists and confiscated their equipment in a specious attempt to stop them from reporting. Even human rights watch documented numerous cases in which jailed protestors were forced to make statements to the state television while in custody. The organizers of ananti-government youth protested organized rallies in Luanda and Benguela. These rallies were targeted with the anonym’s threats of death via text messages, kidnappings, bullying and severe beatings by unidentified individuals. The core criminals of violence during objections were groups of the armed individuals. Those acted with complete liberty and the security agents appear in the civilian clothes. Between the March 2011 to July 2012, the threats and armed attacked against protest leaders by these civilian clothes security agents who are known as ‘caenches’ or ‘militia’ frequently increased. They comprised attacks against protestors in their private residences, kidnappings and possible imposed disappearances. The protesters and victims of violence filed several complaints to police. The human rights watch was not aware of the credible police investigation and prosecution of perpetrators.
The government at Angola used to harass members of country’s deteriorating independent media. In 2014, a group of generals brought a criminal defamation case against the director of the online news site Maka Angola and claimed $1.2 million in damages. The director accused several military officers of engaging in torture and other human rights violations with the private mining companies. He was also charged with a total 24 counts of illicit defamation. On June 2015, fifteen young activists were imprisoned on charges of state safety crimes comprising agitation in association with their contribution in a book club at which they were deliberating a book about civil defiance to authoritarian rule. The members of the group were exposed to violence in imprisonment and various journalists participated in the hunger strikes in order to protest their imprisonment. The whole group was held in imprisonment beyond the limit of 90 days prior transferred to the house arrest. The trial was began by them and constantly delayed.
The independent journalists are also regularly monitored and harassed by state agents. In 2015, many of them came to fear that they could be exposed to uninformed arrest and imprisonment at any time. The foreign journalists were also subjected to harassment and extortion. The journalists who cover sensitive issues concerning government, human rights or corruption have trouble in obtaining visas to report in Angola.
On February, 2017, police blocked a protest in Luanda of about 12 people who were entitled for the resignation of the territorial admin minister, Bornito de Sousa. The police broke up on the same day as a peaceful protest and imprisoned 2 activists in Benguela domain who were also called for the resignation of the minister. In the April, 7 activists were sentenced to 45 days in jail for resisting arrest during a protest against the voters’ registration process. The authorities imprisoned eighteen members of the Lunda Tchokwe Protectorate Movement in June, who were opposing for regional autonomy. The ministry of Interior banned all protests for not contesting in the August election. The government also sued that street protests planned by the activists posed a network security risk.
In the exceptional show of patience, the authorities on March 18 allowed a group of women to protest against the criminalization of abortion. The authorities also allowed opposition party National union to protest march against the irregularities in the election process.
Joao Loutenco was elected as president in September 2017. He pledged to govern for all the citizens of the country. Freedom of the press continued under threat after the enactment of the new law in the opposition of journalist’s union and human right groups. The media in Angola is largely controlled by the government and people connected to the ruling party, the People’s Movement for the liberalisation and Angola (MPLA). The government sustained to restrict freedom of expression by censoring state-run media and private media. During the election campaign, the pro-ruling party coverage by the state media was censured by the election observers from African union, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and Angola’s journalist union.
The law passed 5 laws in order to limit freedom of expression, despite opposition from the journalist union and the alike groups. The Angolan government referred to it as the Social Communication Legislative package. These laws are signed by the President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos which comprises television law, press law, broadcast law and code of conduct law for the journalists and the statues of the government body of the country.
The press law provides the authority to oversee the way media organizations carry out editorial decisions and suspend activities of violators. The law also criminalizes publication of text or picture which is offensive to the individuals. The offence and calumny are punishable with fines and imprisonment under the Angolan penal code. The imprisonment period can be up to six months. The journalists union confronted the law before the constitutional court. It is because the court had not ruled on the case at the time of writing.
The human rights approach is still the best approach as it comprises greater freedom of expression, access to the rights and the greater freedom of the assembly. There are many rights which are guaranteed by the constitution of Angola. The Angolan government is pleased under human rights treaties in which the state party respects the right to freedom of opinion, expression and assembly. It specially protects the freedom to meet and exchange opinions freely. It demonstrates change in the areas of discontent. It requires authorities to ensure participation of the citizens and civil society in the resolution of the national problems. Despite of committing to take measures to respect, protect and promote the rights such as freedom of expression, opinion and assembly, the Angolan authorities continue to overtly suppress these rights.
The advocacy actions prevent further extortion and harassment of journalists and protestors. The actions are intended to make sure that such incidents are promptly investigated and offenders held to responsible. It makes sure that the accessibility of the political parties is equal to the state media which is beyond the specific time allocated by law during the official election campaign. It also certifies that state owned media do not broadcast messages which promote political violence and encourage limits on the rights to peaceful assembly and free expression. The freedom of assembly can be attained if there is right to hold public meetings form associations without the interferences of the government. Angola government sanctioned a freedom of information law in 2002. It grants chance to the citizens to access to the government generated documents. However, in practice, accessing information rests difficult for the independent journalists and the new organizations that do not retain government links. But the key parts of the freedom of information legislation such as creation of a monitoring commission have not been executed.
The human rights watch impulses committee to call Angolan government to stop further pressure and harassment of journalists and activists. It is demanded to drop politically motivated charges against the journalists and others for crimes against the security of the state under the article 25 of the 2010 national security law. The law is urged to revise so that it is in the conformity with the international standards concerning the right to free expression and peaceful assembly. The Angolan government is required to discriminate defamation and others related offences in the press law, the new draft criminal code and related legislation.
Since 2009, the human rights watch documents the right to peaceful assembly and the regular disruption by Angolan security forces. The peaceful demonstrations are organized by the different organizations in order to protect a variety of grievances comprising forced evictions, corruption and more. Most of these protests were announced in advance as requisite by the Angolan law and the protests were peaceful.
The constitution protects freedom of speech and press and laws regarding state security and the free practice of journalism. The 2010 state security law permits for the imprisonment of persons who insult the republic of Angola or the president in the public meetings or by publicising words, pictures, words or sound. The crimes such as defamation and slander are punishable by the detention. The Angolan government constantly rejected international recommendations to legalize smear, slander and defamation. The president Jose Eduardo dos Santos in 2015 apprehend about the speed of libel and moral violent content on the social media network. The legislation was called by the president such as ‘avert the emergence of such practices.’
Angola also approved new constitution in 2010 and it repealed the constitutional law of 1992. This new constitution made a few positive changes in the legislation, specifically in the chapter on the rights and the fundamental freedom of the citizens. For instance, the number of articles increased from 35 to 59 in the current constitution. It should also be noticed that the current constitutional text is much better organised in the terms of the generation of the rights. Although there is no more than a technical observation and there is gulf which separates protected rights from the actual realization. The government persecutes human rights protectors just as abductions and killing of activists and the political adversaries continue to arise. Despite of being progress in the law, in practice things have just remained suspended. For instance, it is impossible for the public relation to exercise their constitutionally assured right to assembly and protest. However, this right is respected by the police and the government authorities even if the events are organized by the ruling party. The duty of the Angolan police is to assure safety of the public and uphold the fundamental rights and the freedom of the citizens. Instead of this, forces and firearms are used against the journalists and the protestors. They also make arrests and imprisonment without following any laws. These illegal practices are accompanied by the imprisonment and the criminalization of the journalists who cover the footage.