Protests organised by activists banned ahead of 23rd August elections

As reported previously on the Monitor, violations of freedom of expression and assembly have intensified in the run-up to the 23rd August general elections. Earlier this week, Angola issued a ban on protests by activists and organisations not competing in the elections (see below). 

According to Radio France International, human rights organisations have denounced the excessive military presence in the Lundas and Cabinda regions, two areas considered to be volatile, with movements for more autonomy and self determination leading to incidents of intimidation of the population. According to media reports, the pre-election period has been characterised by political intolerance between members from the party in power, People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola, and members from the opposition in different localities of the country, leading to several deaths and injuries.

In July 2017, Angola was placed on the CIVICUS Monitor Watch List of countries where there is a immediate and developing threat to civic space. 

Peaceful Assembly

The Minister of Interior distributed a communiqué on 14th August 2017 urging provincial governments to prohibit protests by organisations and activists not affiliated with any political parties competing in the elections on 23rd August. According to the Minister of Interior, the ban seeks to guarantee the security of the electoral process. The streets will only be available for political parties participating in the general elections or allied groups that organise actions in support of political parties, under the authorisation of local authorities.  

In a separate incident, a protest organised by the Movimento do Protectorado da Lunda Tchokwé on 29th July was prevented by police intervention and brutality, according to the Movement. Although Lunda Tchokwé director José Mateus Zecamutchima officially cancelled the protest on the evening of 28th July, due to the armed military presence in the area, many people in Cafunfu and Calemba Mulemba in Lunda Norte gathered to protest anyway. The demonstrators were met with excessive force, as police fired shots to disperse the crowd. According to information obtained by VOA, there were no reported deaths or injuries but 38 protesters were arrested. 

Expression

Journalist Salgueiro Vicente of Rádio Ecclésia was attacked by a police officer on 14th August in Luanda while reporting on an unusual smell coming from the onshore gas and oil supplier SONIL's logistical base, which had caused some people to faint. The Sindicato dos Jornalistas Angolanos has condemned the attack and demanded an investigation of the officer who assaulted Vicente. 

Association

On 11th July 2017, the Angolan Constitutional Tribunal ruled that the Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) Presidential Decree is unconstitutional on the grounds that the National Assembly should have approved it after the president issued the decree. The NGO Presidential Decree dates back to March 2015 and contains several restrictions on the sector, including burdensome registration requirements, excessive oversight of organisations' activities by the authorities, severe funding restrictions and disproportionate penalties. Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa, Deprose Muchena, responded to the court's ruling, noting that: 

“The court’s judgement is a positive step forward that gives Angolan authorities a second chance to go back and work together with local NGOs to build a safe and enabling environment for civil society".