Angola: Continuing judicial harassment of 16 pro-democracy activists
AGO 001 / 0615 / OBS 053.2
harassment / House arrest
February 1, 2016
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.
The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the continuing
judicial harassment of 16 pro-democracy activists, namely 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 and Inocénio De Brito, Ms. Rosa
Kusso Conde, Ms. Laurinda Manuel Gouveia as well as Mr. Domingos
da Cruz, journalist, and Mr. Osvaldo Correia Caholo, a reserve
military officer acquainted to one of the 16.
According to the information received, on January 25, 2016, the Luanda
Provincial Tribunal postponed to February 8, 2016 the hearing in the trial
against the 17 above-mentioned persons. The Court is still due to hear more
than 50 declarants.
Fifteen of the accused have been on house arrest since December 18, 2015, after
nearly six months of detention.
The 17 are accused of “crime of preparatory acts to practice rebellion”
(Article 21) and “plotting against the President and other sovereign
institutions” (Article 53) for participating in meetings to discuss human
rights violations and governance concerns in Angola. 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
The Observatory strongly
condemns the continued judicial harassment of the 16 pro-democracy activists
together with Osvaldo Correia Caholo, since it seems to result from their
peaceful human rights activities. It calls upon the Angola authorities to
immediately lift the house arrest measure against them and drop all charges
June 20, 2015, thirteen pro-democracy
activists 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.
the same day, following their arrest, the Director General of the Criminal
Investigative Service issued a statement saying that they are 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”.
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.
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.
of the young people arrested and detained are pro-democracy activists (except
lieutenant Osvaldo Caholo and Zenóbio
Lázaro) who have been organizing peaceful protests against the
36-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.
was also reported that the authorities threatened the mothers of the young
prisoners who were getting mobilised. The ruling 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.
On September 16, 2015, the office of the Prosecutor confirmed the charges
of “crime of preparatory acts to practice rebellion” and “plotting against the
President and other sovereign institutions” against the 14 pro-democracy
activists arrested in June 2015. Both provisions are in reference of Article 28
of the Law 23/10 of December 3, 2010 on Crimes against Security of the State.
In addition to the charges indicated above, Mr. Osvaldo Correia Caholo was also
charged with “misappropriation of documents”, Mr. Manuel Nito Alves with
“illegal alteration of his name/identity” and Mr. Henrique Luaty
Beirão with three crimes of falsification of documents. Moreover, Ms. Rosa
Kusso Conde and Ms. Laurinda Manuel Gouveia, two regular attendees of the book
club meetings, were also charged on similar accusations but were not detained.
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 organised by the latter.
On November 16, 2015, the
trial of the seventeen finally opened before the Luanda Provincial Tribunal.
Several of the accused were subjected to acts of
ill-treatment and violence during their arrest and detention. Some of them out
of despair or to alert the general public on their ordeal, attempted suicide or
participated to hunger strikes. The last incident concerned Mr. Sedrick de
Carvalho who on December 15, 2015, attempted suicide. He was fortunately
rescued by the prison guards. A few days earlier, in an open letter, he had
threatened to commit suicide in protest against his 176 days of unlawful
detention. He added that, during his six months in detention, he had spent more than 2,000 hours straight in solitary
confinement without being able to see daylight. On December 14, 2015, eight out
of the 15 were on hunger strike, which they ended upon their release on December 18.
On December 15, 2015, the
Luanda Provincial Tribunal approved the request of the Public Prosecutor to
place the pro-democracy activists under house arrest as of December 18.
Please write to the authorities in Angola, urging them to:
i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological
integrity of Messrs. Henrique Luaty
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 and all human rights defenders in
ii. Put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial
level, against the sixteen activists and all those unduly associated with the
above-mentioned case and all human rights defenders in Angola;
iii. Drop immediately and unconditionally all charges against the sixteen
activists and all those unduly associated with the above-mentioned case, as
they only seem to be aimed at sanctioning their legitimate human rights
iv. Lift the house arrest measure on the sixteen activists and, more
generally, release all human rights defenders detained in Angola;
v. 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”;
vi. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental
freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and
international instruments ratified by Angola.
· Mr. Ângelo de Barros Veiga Tavares, Minister
of Interior, Avenida 4 de Fevereiro n.º 106, Luanda República de Angola ; Tel:
+244 222 390 423
· Mr. Rui Jorge Carneiro Mangueira, Minister of
Justice and Human Rights, Rua 17 de Setembro, Cidade Alta, Luanda República de
Angola, Fax: +244 222 370 150
/ 222 370 366
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
Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: +41 22 732 30 72, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
· H.E. Elizabeth Simbrão, Ambassador,
Embassy of Angola in Brussels, Rue Franz Merjay 182 1050 Brussels, Belgium,
Tel: +32 23461872; Fax: +32 23440894, E-mail: email@example.com
Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of Angola in your
The remaining two, Ms. Rosa Kusso Conde and Ms. Laurinda Manuel Gouveia, were not detained.