End crackdown on civil society organisations in Angola

01.12.2015

Civil society activists from Angola denounced the ongoing and increasing restrictions, in law and in practice,  they face in the country, at the 57th session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR).  

 

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(Banjul, The Gambia) – Civil society activists from Angola denounced the ongoing and increasing restrictions, in law and in practice,  they face in the country, at the 57th session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR).  

‘We are not enemies of the State, we are here to promote human rights in Angola,’ explained human rights activists present in Banjul for the 57th Ordinary Session of the ACHPR. Over the last few years, organisations in Angola have expressed concern about the shrinking civil society space in the country.

‘The situation of human rights in Africa is deteriorating especially in countries like Angola where restrictive laws limit freedom of association and expression,’ said the Special Rapporteur for human rights defenders, Commissioner Gansou during her special mechanism report.

Despite Angola being State party to the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights as well as other relevant treaties and declarations, freedom of expression and association has been severely restricted in the country. In March 2015, the President signed Decree 74/15 that regulates the operations and functions of civil society organisations in the country.

Four main concerns have been identified, according to an analysis of the Decree done by the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL).

Firstly, the decree requires mandatory and cumbersome registration requirements that national and international non-governmental organisations (NGOs) need to submit to various authorities before they can operate in the country. Ultimately, registration is subject to broad discretion. Secondly, the decree permits the Government’s Institute for the Community Aid Promotion and Co-ordination to monitor, control and coordinate NGO activities, determine the areas where NGOs work (thematically and geographically) and audit NGO accounts. Thirdly, access to foreign funding is restricted as the provisions in the decree ensure that NGOs have limited autonomy to receive and use resources to carry out their work.  Lastly, the decree has severe penalties such as termination or suspension of NGO activities should an NGO fail to comply with a prescribed list of obligations. The list and its description is vague to point that it is difficult to know precisely what acts would contravene the law.

Angolan activists present during the 57th ACHPR session explained that the Decree limits freedom of association, inhibits the effective operation of an NGO and does not meet international human rights law standards.

During the NGO Forum, Angolan NGOs explained that it was difficult and almost impossible for them to access their bank accounts and withdraw the needed resources to attend the ACHPR session. As a result, their participation was possible through the support of foreign NGOs because the bank are asking them to produce a certificate of approval from the Ministry of Justice before they access the funds in their bank accounts.

National and international NGOs also had a meeting with the Angolan delegation and called on the Government for the release of 17 human rights defenders and activists that were arrested during a book club meeting in June 2015. They met to discuss peaceful strategies for civil disobedience based on Gene Sharp’s book From Dictatorship to Democracy: A Conceptual Framework for Liberation. If convicted for preparing acts of rebellion and plotting against the president the group could spend up to twelve years in jail.

Contact: Clément Voulé, Head of African Advocacy, ISHR, on c.voule@ishr.ch

Category:

Region
  • Africa
Topic
  • Human rights defenders
  • NGOs
  • Reprisals and intimidation
Mechanism
  • African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights
Country
  • Angola