The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has considered the combined initial to third periodic reports of Angola on how that country is implementing the provisions of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
George Rebelo Chicoty, Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Angola, in his opening statement, said Angola had introduced the provisions of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights into its national law. The armed conflict and civil war that had plagued Angola for years had led to the destruction and break down of education, health and social protection services, making it more difficult for the most vulnerable groups to access these systems. The loss of qualifications and devaluation of human capital through the destruction and loss of the education and health system left Angola with 4.5 million displaced persons, and 700,000 refugees. April 2002 marked the end of the armed conflict. This led to the beginning of the national reconciliation process. Vitality was reinstated in the country, mainly through the success of the recent legislative elections in September 2007. The participation in the elections of Angolans was very high and strengthened credibility and justice in the country. Angola's active civil society with a total of 562 non governmental organizations of which 446 were national and 116 were international further illustrated this.
Among issues raised by the Experts were questions regarding human rights training for law enforcement officials; the conditions of six million internally displaced persons; the breakdown of the national budget and specifically in the context of education and health care allocations; judicial reform; freedom of the press; economic corruption and corruption in the judiciary; discrimination against women; the status of the human rights office; poverty reduction strategies; reproductive health and education programmes, foreign debt and repayment measures; the independence of the Office of the Ombudsman; measures taken for victims of mines as a result of armed conflict; the status of the Code of Ethnics for Magistrates; the lack of judicial structures; allegations of rape and domestic violence against migrant women living in the northern provinces; extreme poverty and homelessness; access to drinking water; the confiscation of farming lands for diamond mining purposes; malnutrition of children; and the protection of people with disabilities.
In his concluding remarks, Mr. Chicoty thanked the Committee and assured it that the Government took this exercise very seriously. Further significant progress was necessary, specifically in the reduction of poverty and transparency in economic, social and cultural rights in order to make the transparency visible within the institutions, especially with regards to corruption.
Philippe Texier, Chairman of the Committee, thanked the delegation and said Angola had shown a willingness to implement all the necessary provisions to ensure the full benefit of economic, social and cultural rights. Angola did face difficult challenges in light of the civil strife and war that it had experienced.
The delegation of Angola included representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Permanent Mission of Angola to the United Nations Office at Geneva, the Department of Human Rights in the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry for the Protection of Women and the Family, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Planning, the Ministry of Culture, the National Assembly, the Ministry of Territorial Administration, the General Prosecutor's Office, and the National Institute for the Child.
The concluding observations and recommendations of the Committee on the report of Angola will be issued towards the end of the session, which concludes on Friday, 21 November.
When the Committee next meets in public at 3 p.m. on Monday, 17 November, it will begin its consideration of its draft general comment no. 20.
Report of Angola
The combined initial to third periodic reports of Angola (E/C.12/ANG/3), presented in one document, notes that in 2006 the Republic of Angola experienced the highest level of growth in Africa. Growth sectors included petroleum, diamond mining, farming, fisheries, processing industries, energy and water and construction and services. Real growth in Angolans' average income was as much as 15.3 per cent in 2006 whereas population growth was 2.9 per cent. However, despite growth rates, data on employment showed an unemployment rate of about 22.5 per cent in 2006. The General Government Plan for 2005-2006 included policies for macroeconomic stabilization and encouragement of economic growth in the most formative areas of the economy. For the former, the positive effects are shown in the stability of the exchange rate, the renewed confidence in the national currency, as reflected in a significant rise in deposits in kwanza, the control of the budget deficit, the fall in inflation, greater transparency in public accounts and an improvement in the country's international image with the main international financial and economic institutions. Even though the petroleum sector predominates, there has been a significant recovery in the non-petroleum sector. Policies aimed at strengthening non-petroleum production focused on giving priority to public works, the primary sector, the distribution of energy and water and the processing industry.
On employment and training in Angola, vocational training was the focus of special attention between 2003 and 2006. The Government of Angola is also currently implementing a training programme in arts and trades in all Angolan provinces to encourage greater geographical diversification of training capabilities in trades essential to the reconstruction of the country. Because of mankind's past and the prejudices of the patriarchal culture which were exacerbated in the colonial era, women are discriminated against in vocational guidance, promotion, occupation and employment and they also earn lower wages than men with the same training, notes the report. In order to reduce discrimination against women's right to work, the State established a programme for the promotion and development of women in 2005-2006. In 1998 data showed that women held barely 22 per cent of jobs in the formal sector and 63.5 per cent in the informal sector. Additionally, women represented about 40 per cent of public service employees, while men represented 60 per cent. Men hold 66 per cent of mid-ranking technical and professional posts and 72 per cent of senior posts. Despite the recent ratification of the ILO Convention concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour in February 2001, the percentage of working children in fact stands at over 68 per cent. The highest incidence of child labour is in the informal sector where working conditions are neither regulated nor monitored. With both women and children comprising a majority of informal sector, social security remains a challenge as workers in the informal sector have no health and safety protection at all.