“Generals vs Rafael Marques” at the United Nations

Representatives of 17 Angolan and international organizations have written to the United Nations and the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, asking that these bodies call on the Angolan government to put an end to the defamation charges against journalist Rafael Marques de Morais.

A letter sent on August 2 expresses concern with the various legal measures taken against Mr. Marques de Morais concerning his book Blood Diamonds: Corruption and Torture in Angola published in Portugal in 2011. The book reports cases of murder and torture against people in the diamond-bearing Lundas’ region, in northeastern Angola.

The most recent legal action against  Mr. Marques de Morais comprises 11 criminal complaints brought by seven Angolan generals acting individually and three corporations acting collectively, namely Sociedade Mineira do Cuango, ITM-Mining and the security company Teleservice. All are implicated in the alleged crimes that occurred in the Lundas, as documented in Mr. Marques de Morais’ book.

According to the letter “Mr. Marques de Morais has been regularly and repeatedly harassed by State authorities because of his work, so this is not the first time he is being targeted for the lawful exercise of rights conferred on him by the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and United Nations Declaration on Human Rights.”

“The Angolan Government appears to be using their criminal defamation laws to deter Mr. Marques de Morais from his human rights reporting,” the letter indicates.

The letter was signed by representatives of the following organizations: Media Legal Defense Initiative, Article 19, Associação Justiça, Paz e Democracia (AJPD), Associacão Mãos Livres, Associação OMUNGA, Committee to Protect Journalists, Corruption Watch UK, Freedom House, Human Rights Foundation (HRF), Human Rights Watch, National Endowment for Democracy, Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, Rencontre pour la Paix et les Droits de l’Homme (RPDH), Reporters Without Borders, SOS Habitat -Acção Solidaria, Transparency International and the World Movement for Democracy.