Journalists File Complaint Against the Police

Journalists Rafael Marques de Morais and Alexandre Solombe on Monday filed a formal complaint against the Angolan Rapid Intervention Police (PIR), after they were detained, physically mistreated and received death threats on September 20. In the complaint, addressed to Attorney General João Maria Moreira de Sousa, the journalists also denounced the damage done to their equipment, including cameras and mobile phones, as an attack on the freedom of the press. Marques and Solombe, together with Voice of America correspondent Coque Mukuta, were seized by the police while interviewing a group of youth activists who had just been released from custody on court orders. The eight youths had been arrested the previous day during an attempted demonstration in Luanda. The journalists began interviewing the youths in the street, about 300 meters from the courthouse where a judge had ordered their release. While they were speaking, 45 PIR members surrounded them, and […]

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Young “Revolutionaries” Freed on Bail

On Monday, Judge Josefina Pedro of the Luanda Police Court ordered the release of eight youths who had been detained during a demonstration in the city on September 19. The detainees, all known to be members of the self-nominated Revolutionary Movement, were suspected of trying to organise an anti-government demonstration. They are Adolfo António, Adolfo Campos, Amândio Canhanga, António Ferreira, Joel Francisco, Pedro Teka, Quintuango Mabiala and Roberto Gamba. The eight first appeared in court for summary trial on September 20 and were released because there was not sufficient evidence against them. However, 20 minutes after their release, the Rapid Reaction Police rearrested seven members of the group while they were talking to journalist Rafael Marques de Morais about their earlier experiences of arrest and torture under police custody. Marques and two other journalists were arrested at the time same. Police beat all of the detainees, before releasing the three […]

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The Magnificent Seven

Last Friday, September 20, I went to attend the trial of the eight protesters, and a passer-by politician who had been arrested around Largo da Independência (Independence Square), in Luanda, the previous day. I arrived at the Ingombotas Court, known as the Police Court, with the lawyers from the human rights law firm Associação Mãos Livres: Salvador Freire, Zola Bambi and Afonso Mbinda. I had my camera with me on a strap around my neck. The hearing was public and there was space for one more person, but the police sergeant prevented me from entering, claiming that only lawyers were allowed in. The court is located in a residential building. In the corridor, next to the courtroom entrance, were six or seven policemen. The air was stuffy, the odour of human bodies filled the air. A policeman forbade me from entering the courtroom. I did not resist. I just went […]

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“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. […]

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HRW: Leis de Difamação Silenciam Jornalistas

A organização internacional de direitos humanos Human Rights Watch (HRW) urge a Procuradoria-Geral da República de Angola a arquivar imediatamente todas as acusações recentes de difamação contra o jornalista investigativo Rafael Marques de Morais, alegando que estas põem em causa o direito à liberdade de expressão. Em comunicado emitido hoje, 12 de Agosto, a HRW indica ainda que o governo angolano deve rever as leis de difamação do país, que são o fundamento da acusação contra o jornalista. Segundo Leslie Lefkow, diretora-adjunta de África da HRW, “Angola tem achado as suas leis de difamação muito útil para reprimir relatos sobre corrupção e violações de direitos humanos. Angola devia estar a investigar estes relatos de graves violações de direitos humanos ao invés de tentar silenciar os portadores de más notícias”. As várias acções judiciais contra o jornalista estão relacionadas com o conteúdo do seu livro Diamantes de Sangue: Corrupção e Tortura […]

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HRW: Defamation Laws Silence Journalists

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has urged the Angolan attorney-general to drop all criminal defamation charges against investigative journalist and human rights defender Rafael Marques de Morais, arguing that the charges undermine the right to freedom of expression. In a press release  (HERE É PARA TIRAR O LINK APENAS here) issued today, August 12, HRW also urged the Angolan government to repeal the country’s criminal defamation laws, which are the basis for the charges against Mr. Marques de Morais. According to Leslie Lefkow, HRW deputy Africa director, “Angola has found its criminal defamation laws very useful to try to squelch reports about corruption and human rights violations. Angola should be investigating these reports of serious human rights violations instead of trying to silence the bearers of bad news.” The various legal measures taken against Mr. Marques de Morais are related to his book Blood Diamonds: Corruption and Torture in Angola, published […]

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Generals Chase Journalist Over Blood Diamonds Investigation

Journalist and human rights defender Rafael Marques de Morais was interrogated today in connection with 11 criminal complaints arising from his book Blood Diamonds: Corruption and Torture in Angola. The complaints were lodged on March 14 by seven generals whom the book names as responsible for crimes against humanity that occurred in the Lunda diamond mining region in north-eastern Angola. The complainants are led by the Minister of State and head of the Intelligence Bureau in the Presidency, Manuel Hélder Vieira Dias “Kopelipa”. The other complainants are Adriano Makevela Mackenzie, António Emílio Faceira, Armando da Cruz Neto (an MPLA parliamentarian), Carlos Alberto Hendrick Vaal da Silva (Inspector General of the General Staff of Angolan Armed Forces), João Baptista de Matos, and Luís Pereira Faceira. The private security company Teleservice, owned by the same generals, laid a collective complaint, in addition to the complaint brought by the civilian shareholder José Carlos […]

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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 […]

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Rafael Marques Placed Under Investigation in Angola

Angolan journalist Rafael Marques de Morais was interrogated and charged of defamation by on Wednesday by the Department for Combating Organised Crime of the National Criminal Investigation Directorate  (DNIC). It was only during questioning that Mr. Marques de Morais was formally notified that he was under investigation, and was offered the services of a public defender, which he refused. The journalist had not made arrangements to be accompanied by a lawyer as he did not know the content of the DNIC notification, which was only conveyed to him over the phone. In January, three shareholders and managers of the company ITM-Mining accused Mr. Marques de Morais of having defamed them in his book “Blood Diamonds: Torture and Corruption in Angola” (“Diamantes de Sangue: Tortura e Corrupção em Angola”), published in September 2011 in Portugal. The three men – Mozambican Hermínio Teixeira, Briton Andrew Paul Machin, and Angolan Jorge Gonçalves – […]

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