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Mission to Angola: report submitted by the Special Representative of the Secretary General on the situation of human rights defenders

Hina Jilani

UN Commission on Human Rights

21 February 2005

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Summary

The Special Representative conducted a country visit to Angola from 16 to 24 August 2004 during which she met with senior officials of the Government, a wide range of human rights defenders and representatives of international intergovernmental organizations and States. The objective of the visit was to assess the situation and role of human rights defenders in Angola.

In section I, the Special Representative describes the legal and institutional environment in which human rights defenders work in Angola. She emphasizes that applicable laws in the field of freedom of expression, information and association continue to demonstrate numerous weaknesses which adversely affect human rights defenders. While welcoming the worthy efforts of the Government to develop national policies and institutions to promote and protect human rights in the country, she underlines that efforts are still required to ensure their adequate functioning.

In section II, the Special Representative examines the capacity of human rights defenders in Angola. She notes that despite the presence of many NGOs in the country, the defenders' capacity to raise human rights issues remains weak, particularly outside of Luanda. She points out the need for additional training and increased cooperation between existing organizations.

In section III, the Special Representative welcomes the relative improvement of the situation of defenders since the end of the war. She regrets, however, that State authorities continue to consider human rights defenders with hostility and to assimilate their action with political opposition. She notes that as a result human rights defenders often practise self censorship, leaving many important issues unaddressed. She also underlines that the absence of independent media hinders the capacity of human rights defenders to publicize their concerns and conduct their activities. Defenders continue to face serious obstacle to the creation, registration and operation of NGOs and their limited access to justice adversely affects their work.

She concludes her report noting that with elections planned for 2006, Angola is facing a serious challenge in its development towards democracy which can only be met if human rights defenders are allowed to effectively contribute to the preparation, monitoring and conduct of this important process.


Introduction

  1. Pursuant to Commission on Human Rights resolutions 2000/61 and 2003/64, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the situation of human rights defenders conducted an official visit to Angola from 16 to 24 August 2004. The Special Representative thanks the Government of Angola for extending this invitation and for its continued support throughout her visit.


  2. The Special Representative wishes to acknowledge the cooperation extended to her by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in the rapid preparation and facilitation of the visit. During her visit, she was able to meet with the Acting Prime Minister, the Attorney General, the President of the National Assembly, a number of government ministers and their staff and senior representatives of the police and the judiciary. She also met with a wide range of human rights defenders. She thanks representatives of the diplomatic community and heads of United Nations agencies for making themselves available.


  3. Apart from Luanda, the Special Representative visited Cabinda and Huila, two provinces with distinctly different situations, and met with the provincial governors, local chiefs of security and the military and individuals working on human rights issues within the area. Within each province, she travelled to one municipality where she met with the local State authorities and members of the traditional authorities.


  4. She wishes to thank the United Nations Resident Coordinator and his staff and the Angola Office of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights for their extensive support in the organization and during the course of her visit.




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