The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in the Republic of Angola.
Brief description of the situation:
According to the information received, on September 14, 2006, Mpalabanda was closed down and its offices sealed off, following a sentence issued by the Provincial Tribunal of Cabinda on July 20, 2006, banning the organisation for its alleged involvement in politics. Although members of the organisation appealed to the Supreme Court and are still waiting for a decision, the Provincial Governor ordered its closing down, carried out by the police.
Mpalabanda was created in July 2003, and its main objectives are the peaceful fight against war, oppression, repression and corruption. In particular, the organisation gathered several proofs of human rights violations committed by the government and members of the Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (Cabinda Liberation Force or Forca de Libertacao de Cabinda - FLEC).
Besides, on September 29, 2006, both Mr. Agostinho Chicaia and Dr. Raul Manuel Danda, respectively Mpalabanda President and Spokesperson, were arbitrarily arrested by members of the Provincial Criminal Investigative Police, on their arrival at the airport in Cabinda province. They were coming back from a trip to Mr Danda’s house in Luanda. Police officers searched and confiscated documents from Mr. Danda’s luggage, which were reportedly related to the conflict in Cabinda, written by Mr. Raul Danda and several other journalists. Some of these documents had already been published in national newspapers in Angola. These acts of harassment against the organisation’s members follow many other that took place since the publication of three reports documenting human rights violations in Cabinda, in 2003, 2004 and 2005, Mpalabanda members have been victims of acts of harassment including arbitrary arrests, torture and death threats, and passport confiscations.
Mr. Raul Danda was initially held without charge at the headquarters of the Provincial Criminal Investigation Police in the city of Cabinda until October 3, 2006. He was charged with "instigating, inciting and condoning crimes against the security of the State" and transferred to the Civil Prison (Cadeia Civil) in Cabinda, from where he was released on October 27, 2006, pending a trial. Mr. Raul Danda has been allowed to return to his home in Luanda while criminal investigations continue, but cannot leave Luanda without permission from the prosecutor’s office.
Mr. Agostinho Chicaia was also released at an unknown date, but proceedings against him would be pending, aiming at ordering again his detention.
Finally, the Observatory was informed about the increasing acts of harassment against Mapalbanda members since its closure, as well as systematic obstacles against their freedom of assembly. Several of them had reportedly to hide outside of the Cabinda province, in order to ensure they physical integrity.
According to the information received, the Angolan government claims that Mapalabanda is a FLEC allied. With the help of the Association of Natives and Friends of Cabinda (Associação dos Naturais e Amigos de Cabinda - ANAC), the authorities have launched a campaign against Mapalabanda, presenting it as a radical and separatist group.
The Observatory strongly condemns the closing down of Mpalabanda, and expresses its deep concern about the physical and psychological integrity of its members.
Please write to the Angolan authorities urging them to:
i. guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Agostinho Chicaia and Mr. Raul Danda, as well as of all human rights defenders in the country;
ii. ensure that the rights of Mr. Raul Danda to a fair and impartial trial will be guaranteed in any circumstances, and that the charges against him be dropped, as they are arbitrary;
iii. put an immediate end to any obstacles to the activities of Mpalabanda as well as to all forms of harassment against human rights defenders in Angola;
iv. conform with the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, in particular article 1, which states that "everyone has the right, individually or collectively, to promote the protection and fulfilment of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels", article 5.b, which stipulates that everyone has the right "to form, join and participate in non-governmental organisations, associations or groups", article 6a), which provides that "everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, freely to publish, impart or disseminate to others views, information and knowledge on all human rights and fundamental freedoms", as well as article 12.2, which provides that "the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually or 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";
v. ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with regional and international human rights instruments recognised by the Republic of Angola.
Mr. José Eduardo dos Santos, President of the Republic, Futungo de Belas, Luanda, Republic of Angola, c/o Ambassador Mr. Arcanjo Maria Do Nascimento, Permanent Mission of the Republic of Angola to the United Nations in Geneva, 45-47 rue de Lausanne, 1201 Geneva, Switzerland, Tel: +41 22 732 30 60 / 30 63. Fax: +41 22 732 30 72 / 41 22 731 51 62 E-mail: email@example.com
Ambassador, Mr. Toco Siero, Embassy of the Republic of Angola in Brussels, 182 rue Franz Merjay, 1050 Ixelles, Belgium. Fax : + 32 2.344.08.94 / + 32 2.345.39.78
Mr. Manuel Miguel da costa Aragão, Minister of Justice, Ministry of Justice, Rua 17 Setembro, Luanda, Republic of Angola, Fax: +244 222 330 327 / 222 33 81 75
Mr. Pascoal Joaquim, Provincial Prosecutor General of Cabinda, Fax: +244 231 222415
Dr. Augusto da Costa Carneiro, Prosecutor General of the Republic, Procuradoria Geral da República, Rua 17 Setembro, Luanda, Republic of Angola, Fax: + 244 222 333 170 / 172
General Roberto Leal Monteiro, Minister of the Interior, Ministério do Interior, Avenida 4 Fevereiro No. 106, Luanda, República de Angola, Fax: +244 222 39 51 33 / +244 222 33 17 34 / +244 222 39 12 92
Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Angola in your respective countries.
Geneva-Paris, November 15, 2006
Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.
The Observatory, a FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.
The Observatory was the winner of the 1998 Human Rights Prize of the French Republic.
To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
E-mail : Appeals@fidh-omct.org
Tel et fax FIDH : + 33 1 43 55 55 05 / 33 1 43 55 18 80
Tel et fax OMCT : +41 22 809 49 39 / 41 22 809 49 29