Angola: Rights violations denied

JOHANNESBURG, 27 March (IRIN) - The Angolan government has denied reports by Amnesty International that its armed forces have been involved in human rights violations, Angop, the official news agency said.
Speaking in Geneva at the 56th session of the UN Human Rights Commission, Cunha Caetano, Angola's assistant attorney-general, reportedly said: "Angola is at war, and inevitably in a war human rights are disregarded." Angop also quoted the country's foreign ministry spokesman as saying: "The war in Angola has been the main reason preventing an adequate assessment of the human rights situation."

Caetano claimed that the allegations were made by "one of those committees who enter Angola illegally through South Africa and Namibia without the consent of the Angolan government, with a mandate from no-one".

Amnesty's report, released last week, said the Angolan Armed Forces (FAA), in pursuing rebels of Jonas Savimbi's UNITA in the southern parts of the war-torn country, routinely detained, tortured and executed civilians suspected of being UNITA supporters. Amnesty also claimed that men as well as boys under the age of 18 from former strongholds of UNITA were drafted into the army after the FAA had taken over the villages.

The human rights commission meeting started in Geneva on 20 March and is scheduled to end on 18 April.


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