Crimes Against The Media


Since early 1999, the government of Angola has used the resurgence of a 25-year-long civil war as a pretext for cracking down on peaceful dissent. More than 20 journalists, mainly from the independent media, have been detained and/or questioned concerning alleged deformation and/or crimes against the security of the state. Among the most egregious instances of abuse are the following:

  • The murder of journalists Ricardo Malo (1995), Antonio Casimiro (1997), Feliciano Zau Bunga (1997), Samão Raberto (1998), Mauricio Cristávão (1998) remain unexplained by the government.
  • A draft Angolan Press Law, made public in July 2000, has been branded by both local and international media organisations as an attempt to create a legal tool to muzzle the media. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), which conducted an analysis of the bill, the bill includes vague clauses that allow prison terms of up to eight years for publishing domestic or foreign articles that "discredit" the president or other officials. Another clause prevents defendants from presenting evidence to support their case in court.
  • The Provincial and Supreme Court in Luanda on 11 December 2000 ordered the National Emigration Police to lift the travel restrictions imposed on journalists Rafael Marques, Aguiar dos Santos and Antonio Freitas. However, less than a day after the court's ruling, the border police on December 12 refused to allow Marques to leave the country and instead confiscated his passport. To date he has not received any response to his continued appeals for the return of his passport.
  • On August 7, the provincial delegate at Social Communication (SC) in Malanje, Andre António da Costa, summoned journalist Isaias Soares to his office and demanded that the journalist bring all his archives and documents relating to his work as a journalist. The official demanded the documents to scrutinise them in the light of apparent charges being contemplated against Soares. Da Costa told the journalist that the provincial government would charge him for having revealed to Rádio Ecclésia, a Roman Catholic FM station in Luanda, that National Union for the Total Indepence of Angola (Unita) forces had attacked the municipality of Cacusa.
  • Between 19 August and 6 September 2000 police interrogated at least seven journalists in the face of the government campaign to crack down on independent reporting about the civil war.
  • On 24 June 2000 four armed men kidnapped the chief editor of Rádio Ecclésia, Jose Paula.
  • On 21 June 2000 four armed men dressed in Angolan army uniforms attacked the Luanda office of the Voice of America (VoA).
  • On 31 May 2000 André Mussamo, a journalist with state-owned National Radio of Angola, was found not guilty of revealing "state secrets". Mussamo has not been compensated by the state for the more than three months he spent in detention awaiting trial, nor for the resulting loss of his job and personal belongings.
  • On 9 August 1999 police raided the studios of Radio Ecclesia, a Roman Catholic FM station in Luanda, while the station was re-broadcasting a BBC interview with Unita leader Jonas Savimbi. Police arrested a total of nine journalists in connection with this broadcast.
  • On 1 June 1999 Minister of Social Communication Hendrik Vaal Neto threatened to shut down independent media that failed to support the government's war effort against the Unita rebel movement.
  • On 29 April 1999 VoA reporter Josefo Lamberga was physically assaulted by an Angolan army corporal while researching an article on draft evasion.
  • On 3 April 1999 William Tonet, editor of the independent newspaper Folha 8, was interrogated by state security officers in connection with articles in his newspaper that allegedly incited young men to evade military duty.
  • On 11 January 1999 Radio Morena administrators, José Manuel Alberto and José Cabral Sande, were detained for 24 hours by Angolan security agents for re-broadcasting a Portuguese television interview with Unita Secretary-General Paulo Lukamba-Gato. On 25 January, José Cabral Sande was detained again - this time for 48 hours - before being released.
Freepress, March 2001