Angola has faced an unprecedented crackdown on human rights, including unlawful killings and arbitrary arrests, in the lead up to the 24 August election, Amnesty International said today.
In its new briefing, "Make the vote meaningful for human rights observance: Human rights manifesto for Angola ahead of the 2022 general election", the organization details how Angolan authorities have increased their clampdown on human rights amid a deteriorating humanitarian situation compounded by drought-induced hunger in the country's southern region.
"Angola has been characterized by an increase in brutal crackdowns on human rights in recent years, including repression of any form of dissent. Protesters, including young people demanding accountability and their socio-economic rights, have not been spared," said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International's Director for East and Southern Africa.
"As the country heads to the polls, authorities must outline their plans to respect human rights, ensure accountability for countless human rights violations, and access to justice and effective remedies for victims.
"Authorities must work with the international community to bring humanitarian relief to the victims of drought and hunger in the southern region."
Unlawful killings, arbitrary arrests and hunger
At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, the security forces responsible for implementing restrictions killed at least seven boys and young men by using excessive and lethal force.
In January 2021, police shot and killed dozens of activists who were peacefully protesting the high cost of living in the mining town of Cafunfo in Lunda Norte province. Security forces also chased down protestors in surrounding neighbourhoods and forests. While the exact numbers of those killed and injured remain unknown, dumped bodies were found in the nearby Cuango River.
Following the violent repression of a peaceful protest on 8 February 2021, the country's Criminal Investigation Service arrested José Mateus Zecamutchima of the Lunda Tchokwe Protectorate Movement, which advocates for autonomy and self-determination of the eastern half of Angola. Accused of "association with evildoers and armed rebellion" and "leading the rebellion to overthrow the government", José Mateus was subjected to an unfair trial and imprisonment. He has often been denied contact with his lawyer and family.
On 30 May 2021, police in Cabinda arrested and detained several protestors after violently ending their procession and confiscating their personal items. The demonstration was part of a wider five-province protest against drought-induced hunger, unemployment and the unaffordable cost of living.
Amnesty International is calling on the candidates in the upcoming election to publicly commit, if elected, to:
- conduct prompt, thorough, impartial, independent, transparent and effective investigations into all the killings and hold those suspected to be responsible accountable in fair trials;
- ensure access to justice and effective remedies for victims and their families;
- bring to justice in fair trials all members of the security forces accused of using excessive and lethal force against peaceful protestors and provide access to justice and effective remedies for victims and their families; and
- work with the international community to promptly bring humanitarian relief to the victims of drought and hunger in the southern region
While land grabs of communal grazing sites by commercial cattle ranches have progressively eroded economic and social resilience of pastoralist communities since the end of the civil war in 2002, millions of people in the south of Angola are now facing further threats as a climate change-related drought continues. Food and water are growing increasingly scarce, which has caused thousands of people to flee their homes and seek refuge in neighbouring Namibia.
On 24 August 2022, Angola will have the fifth general election since the end of the civil war. The vote will allow Angolans to elect their president and parliamentary representatives.
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