International NGOs Urge Attorney General to Drop Charges Against Journalist

Over a dozen democracy, human rights and anti-corruption groups have written to Angola’s Attorney General urging for an end to “politically-motivated” charges of defamation and libel against journalist and activist Rafael Marques de Morais.

Mr. Marques de Morais has been summoned to answer charges of defamation following the publication of his book, “Blood Diamonds: Corruption and Torture in Angola”, which catalogues allegations of human rights abuse in Angola’s diamond areas. The complainants are civilian business partners of Angolan generals, the alleged perpetrators of the crimes outlined in the book.

In a letter presented on Thursday, June 6, to Attorney General João Maria de Sousa, the group said: “We believe that the alleged charges of defamation and libel against Mr. Marques de Morais are politically motivated.

The petitioners point out that the investigation process against Mr. Marques de Morais has been fraught with multiple irregularities, including the potential threat to the principle of double jeopardy, as the generals and their business partners lodged criminal complaints against the journalist, over the same case, in two different jurisdictions, in Portugal and Angola.

Notwithstanding, the letter also recalls that, in 2005, the United Nations Human Rights Committee ordered the Angolan State to pay damages to Mr. Marques de Morais. It ruled on his unlawful detention, and a kangaroo court that convicted him to six months in prison for defamation against President José Eduardo dos Santos. The Angolan government has refused, to this date, to abide by the international ruling and pay damages to the journalist.

The letter urges the attorney general to drop the charges against Mr. Marques de Morais, and to investigate the human rights abuses documented in his book.