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Online Human Rights Courses – Now Available!

The Governance Group, in collaboration with the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights, has been developing online training courses on human rights and we are pleased to announce that our first three courses are now available in Portuguese!

Our first three courses are:

The courses are primarily aimed at those with no prior knowledge of human rights, however they also serve as a useful refresher course for those who want to refresh their knowledge. The courses are available on the Human Rights Education Project Portal and are open for all.

We are also developing additional courses including on children’s rights, women’s rights, refugee rights, and rights of persons with disabilities. Information on the courses and when they are available will be posted on the Portal in due course.

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New Paper published “COVID-19: Human rights trade-offs, challenges and policy responses”

 

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every country in 2020 and is having both short and long term impacts on human rights. The Governance Group and the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights are pleased to announce the publication of the paper “COVID-19: Human rights trade-offs, challenges and policy responses”.

The paper has been written as part of the Angola Human Rights Project in collaboration with the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights and provides lessons learned and guidance on how governments can continue to respect, protect and remedy human rights while responding effectively to the Covid-19 pandemic.

To read the English version of the paper, please follow this link: https://www.jus.uio.no/smr/english/research/publications/occasional-papers/docs/oc-13-20.pdf

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CALL FOR PAPERS – BOOK: HUMAN RIGHTS IN ANGOLA: COOPERATION AND CHALLENGES

Angola has been actively participating in the challenges of the African continent in which it operates. After a process of decolonization and pacification, the country is consolidating and strengthening its democratic institutions. From a legal point of view, Angola undertook several constitutional reforms and important legislative changes to strengthen human rights.

Angola recently approved the National Human Rights Strategy. The central objective of the Strategy is to reach the age of majority in Human Rights, which consists of Angola’s endogenous capacity to defend and protect Human Rights by involving Local Human Rights Committees at the level of the whole country and raising Human Rights as a matter of National Security, through the intervention of the National Security Council in the periodic assessment of the state of Human Rights in the Country based on the reports of the Local Human Rights Committees.

Within the scope of bilateral cooperation in Human Rights between the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights and the Embassy of the Kingdom of Norway in Angola, it is intended to publish a book of articles that aims to present the National Human Rights Strategy and consolidate the work and themes developed during the second phase of the project “Education for a Human Rights Culture in Angola” (2018-2021).

For more information on the call for papers and how to submit an article summary, please see here.

 

 

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Angola improves its position in the US Department of State’s Human Trafficking ranking

The Republic of Angola notes notable advances in the fight against Human Trafficking, according to the US State Department Report. The Report is prepared annually and highlights actions such as the preparation and approval of the National Action Plan to Combat Trafficking in Human Beings (Presidential Decree No. 31/20, 14 August), the National Human Rights Strategy, improvements in the follow-up of cases and in assisting victims, and carrying out awareness and training actions.

Angola went from Level 2W of observation to Level 2. The evaluation has four levels, being: Level 1, fully met; Level 2, countries that partially meet the standards; Level 2W countries under observation; and Level 3, countries that do not fully meet the minimum standards and are not making significant efforts. Angola has returned to Level 2, where it had been in 2015-2017.

Angola, in addition to the approval of the National Action Plan, has also recently approved several legal instruments for investigation and prosecution of perpetrators, protection of victims and witnesses.

The Interministerial Commission to Combat Trafficking in Human Beings has a database of 100 cases (2015-2020), and has joined the SADC database and the international Blue Heart campaign. In terms of prevention, in 2019 it carried out actions that covered more than a thousand participants from various provinces.

https://www.minjusdh.gov.ao/vernoticia.aspx?id=50529

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Angola signs relevant Human Rights Instruments of the African Union

Dear All,

We are pleased to inform you that, on June 16th, Angola signed relevant Human Rights Instruments of the African Union System.

See the complete information here: https://www.minjusdh.gov.ao/vernoticia.aspx?id=50463

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Angola improves its ranking by 3 places in Reporters without Borders’ Press Freedom ranking

Angola has improved, for the third consecutive year, in the Index on Press Freedom that is produced annually by the International Reporters Without Borders Organization. In 2020, Angola climbed 3 places, ranking 106 (out of 180). It should be noted that the increase over the last three years is significant, moving from 125 in 2017, categorised as ‘red’ (difficult situation), to their current place at 106.

It has been emphasised that the recognition of the improvements in Angola in the scope of Freedom of the Press has occurred in an unfavourable context for press freedom in the world today. According to Reporters Without Borders, there are significant setbacks in Africa due to the increase in prolonged arbitrary arrests of journalists and censorship of the Internet. This situation also occurs in countries such as the United States of America, Brazil, some countries in the European Union, Asia, the Pacific and Australia.

In terms of Portuguese-speaking African countries, Angola was the only country that rose in the ranking, with Guinea-Bissau losing 5 places, Mozambique 1, Cape Verde maintaining its position and no data available on São Tomé.

These advances are mainly due to the increase in the plurality of the press organs registered in recent years, greater openness, independence and transparency, and lack of registration of cases of prolonged detentions of journalists, among others.

Several international institutions and other states have publicly acknowledged the advances in the field of Human Rights in Angola, for example, during the adoption of the Angola report for the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in the Human Rights Council.

Recently, a National Human Rights Strategy was approved, a guiding document that aims to frame the performance of the Government of Angola within the scope of Human Rights, with reference to the National Development Plan 2018-2022. The Strategy is based on the legal basis of the Constitution of the Republic of Angola (CRA) and the International Treaties ratified by Angola, namely the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the 1986 African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and the commitments of Angola for the election to be a member of the Human Rights Council. In this context, Freedom of Expression is also framed as a Human Right and Fundamental Freedom.

https://rsf.org/en/ranking

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Provincial Human Rights Training in Zaire

On March 4 and 5, 2020, a training course on human rights took place at the Provincial Human Rights Committee in Mbanza Congo, Zaire province. The training was conducted by the National Directorate for Human Rights of the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights in partnership with The Governance Group and the Norwegian Embassy, ​​within the scope of the “Angola Human Rights Training” project.

The training topics included: National Human Rights Strategy (Luísa Buta); Introduction to Human Rights (Joana Gumbe); Provincial Human Rights Committees and their Expansion to Municipalities and Communes (Luísa Buta); Human Trafficking (Márcia Mendes); International Human Rights Promotion and Protection Mechanisms (Lucília Monteiro); International and Regional Treaties Ratified by Angola (Joana Gumbe); Main Challenges and Concerns at the Local Level (João Belo, Provincial Delegate of Justice).

A total of 36 participants attended the training, 28 men and 8 women, including members of the Provincial Human Rights Committee, made up of representatives of public institutions at the provincial level and civil society, in addition to representatives of the National Police, Border Patrol, Criminal Investigation Service and prison officers.

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Angola approves National Action Plan to Prevent and Combat Human Trafficking

We are pleased to inform you that on February 14th Angola approved (Presidencial Decree nº 31/20 of February 14th) the National Action Plan to Prevent and Combat Human Trafficking. For more information follow the link: http://www.servicos.minjusdh.gov.ao/noticias-e-eventos/47/angola-aprova-plano-de-accao-nacional-para-prevenir-e-combater-o-trafico-de-seres-humanos   

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Angola approves National Human Rights Strategy and National Human Rights Award

We are pleased to inform you that Angola approved on February 27th the Human Rights National Strategy and the Human Rights National Awards. For more information please follow the link: http://www.servicos.minjusdh.gov.ao/noticias-e-eventos/49/angola-aprova-estrategia-nacional-de-direitos-humanos-e-premio-nacional-de-direitos-humanos

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Presentation of paper on business and sustainability in Angola

Last week, Isabel Mota Borges, TGG’s Research Director, and João Antonio Francisco from the Angolan Ministry of Justice and Human Rights, presented a paper on the role of State regulation and businesses towards sustainable development in Angola at the University of Oslo’s conference on “Social justice, business and the pursuit of sustainability”.

The full paper can be accessed here.

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Media Diploma Course 2019

The ‘Oslo Professional Course’, a one-week training course for 5-7 participants from Angola hosted in Norway, is a key component of the Angola Human Rights Project. As part of this, The Governance Group in partnership with the Angolan Ministry of Justice and Human Rights offer an annual Media Training Diploma Course for Angolan professionals. The course provides first-hand introductions to key issues and challenges in the Norwegian media and communication sector as well as includes issues of relevance to the current Angolan and southern African context. The course focuses on freedom of expression and access to information, and the relationship between a changing media landscape and human rights. 

The course focuses on how a free and independent media can play an important role in the protection of human rights, for example by providing an effective guarantee on government accountability and acting as a key check on corruption. In many societies, media can also be co-opted and have the opposite effect, fuelling instead prejudice and division. International law requires States to both refrain from controlling or restricting the media, as well as allowing a free and diverse media landscape by enabling the legal and regulatory environment. However, the media landscape both globally, regionally, and nationally has changed fundamentally in recent years. The Internet, and social media especially, has taken a new position of importance as a platform for content distribution alongside traditional forms of media. The rise of the internet and social media has occurred rapidly, and they now hold a key influence over the visibility and accessibility of media and related content. Alongside the rise in internet and social media, there has been an increase in surveillance and monitoring of communications by States. Whilst this rapid change in the media landscape calls for more detailed regulation, there is a need for clear rules and restrictions, in order, to ensure freedom of expression on the internet.  

This year, the Media Diploma Course took place in Oslo from the 7th to 11th October. Topics covered current challenges relating to freedom of expression globally as well as freedom of expression and the media in sub-Saharan Africa in particular. Lectures also covered investigative journalism, defamation, and the role of online media, news and cyber security. This year’s Media Diploma Course therefore aimed to enable professionals working in the media sector in Angola to have a better understanding of the role and impact of media and communication and its relationship to human rights amid the changing technological and regulatory landscape. The course was designed to broaden the participant’s perspectives and enhance their opportunities to integrate both key principles and practical approaches into their daily work. 

During the week-long course, participants had both lecturers as well as visits to relevant institutions in Norway working in the media and communication sector. Institutions visited included the Norwegian Union of Journalists, Norwegian PEN, and Norwegian newspaper Klassekampen, as well as a visit to the Norwegian Parliament. 

Press freedom and freedom of expression is increasingly coming under pressure and is of utmost importance in the current global context and The Governance Group looks forward to further collaboration on freedom of expression, media freedom and human rights with the graduates of the 2019 Media Diploma Course. 

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Human Rights Treaty Ratification

From 2nd October 2019, Angola is now considered to be part of the following conventions: Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; Convention on the elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination, and the Second optional protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights regarding the abolition of the death penalty.

http://www.servicos.minjusdh.gov.ao/noticias-e-eventos/45/angola-ratifica-convencoes-internacionais-de-direitos-humanos

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Workshop on Regional Human Rights Systems

On September 5th a workshop was held at the Kangonjo Higher Polytechnic Institute (ISKA) on “Regional Human Rights Systems: the African System vs. the European System”. The workshop was opened by the Director General of ISKA, followed by an opening speech by the Secretary of State for Human Rights and Citizenship, Dr. Ana Celeste Januário.

The themes covered during the workshop included:

  • “The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the current challenges” by the African Commissioner for Human Rights, Dr. Teresa Manuela;
  • “The Role of the African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights in the Protection and Defense of Human Rights: Advances and Constraints” by Human Rights Consultant, Dr. Emílio Manuel; and
  • “Europe’s experience in guaranteeing and protecting human rights: the European Court of Human Rights” by Prof. Dr. Paula Veiga of the University of Coimbra.

There were over 200 participants at the workshop including teachers, students and other guests, as well as various media representatives.

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Oslo Diploma Course 2019

The 2019 Oslo Diploma Course (ODC) took place from the 15th to 31st May in Oslo, Norway. The ODC, part of the Angola Human Rights Project, is a three-week intensive course on international human rights law for participants from the Angolan government and Angolan civil society. The three-week programme focuses on international and regional human rights norms and standards and existing mechanisms and challenges in relation to the implementation of these norms and standards. The ODC also addresses particular human rights issues identified as pertinent to Angola. For this year´s course, that included the UN reporting system[1] and human rights and corruption.

The 2019 ODC was implemented by The Governance Group in cooperation with the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights. This year’s participants came from a variety of Angolan Government Ministries both at central and provincial levels, including the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights, the Ministry of Interior, and the Office of the Attorney General. In addition, we received participants from various civil society organisations including SCARJOV (Youth and Children Reintegration Association) and VIS (International Volunteering and Civil Service).

Throughout the three weeks the participants attended lectures on international and regional human rights law, including refugee and asylum law, business and human rights, human rights and trafficking, and participated in a workshop on how to train others in human rights. New topics were also introduced for this year’s ODC, including on International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights and Corruption. Alongside their daily lectures, the participants also visited a number of Oslo-based institutions and organisations of relevance to Norway’s commitments to human rights, at home and abroad. These visits aimed to facilitate a more profound understanding of how human rights may be integrated in the day-to-day running of a society. Institutions visited included the Norwegian national human rights institution, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Supreme Court, and the Norwegian Defence International Centre. More practical visits also included an introduction to Bredtveit Prison, a women’s high security prison in Oslo, Refstad transit centre for asylum seekers, and Oslo Crisis Centre, an emergency centre for women, men and children who are exposed to violence in close relationships. (Please see our gallery page for more information on the various institutions that were visited.)

During their stay, the participants also had the opportunity to explore the city of Oslo and visited museums such as the Nobel Peace Centre and the 22nd  July Centre[2], as well as joining the festivities on Norway’s National Day and watching a local football match.

The overall aim of the ODC is to develop a basic theoretical and practical understanding of human rights. At the same time, the course creates space for discussion and prepares the ground for further cooperation between Angolan and Norwegian individuals and institutions. The course is designed to broaden the participants’ perspectives and enhance their opportunities to integrate both key principles and practical approaches into their daily human rights work in various sectors across state and civil society. The Governance Group looks forward to further collaboration on human rights in Angola with the graduates of the 2019 Oslo Diploma Course.

 

[1] Angola is due to conduct the 3rd cycle of the UN’s Universal Periodic Review this year.

[2] The 22 July Centre hosts an exhibition that documents the terrorist attacks that took place in central Oslo and on the island of Utøya on 22 July 2011

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Angola and UN Treaty Bodies

The UN Human Rights System comprises of nine treaties focusing on all types of human rights. The system was born out of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights which set out for the first time on a global scale the fundamental human rights that were to be universally protected. These rights include among others: the right to life, the right to non-discrimination, the right to vote, the right to freedom of expression and religion, the right to a family, the right to privacy, the right to health and education, and the right to a decent standard of living. Despite this, the rights contained within the Universal Declaration are not legally binding on States. In 1966, the UN therefore adopted the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) as legally binding treaties encompassing the rights contained within the Universal Declaration. Together, the Universal Declaration and the ICCPR and ICESCR form what is called the International Bill of Human Rights. The International Bill of Human Rights is the cornerstone of a series of internationally binding human rights treaties covering a variety of different rights.

The core international human rights treaties cover:

When a State ratifies one of these treaties, it becomes legally obliged to implement through its internal legal mechanisms the rights and obligations contained therein, as well as to participate in the process of monitoring and implementing the treaty.

Each treaty is overseen by a committee composed of independent experts with recognized human rights standing. The independent experts are appointed and elected for fixed periods of 4 years, which can be renewed. States are obliged to report to treaty bodies every two, four or five years, depending on the treaty body and treaty body.

The 10 main treaty bodies are:

Each treaty body is responsible for receiving and reviewing the periodic reports of States Parties on the measures taken to implement the rights contained in the treaty and thus providing States with general comments and recommendations on how to improve treaty implementation.

Non-governmental organizations and civil society actors also have the opportunity to contribute to the reporting process and provide information on the situation in the country regarding the implementation and protection of rights within the treaty. They can do this in two ways: parallel reporting or shadow reports or participating in the state reporting process.

At the level of the United Nations, Angola has ratified five of the main treaties[1] and is in the process of ratifying the remaining four.[2] In 2019, Angola reported to the ICCPR and CEDAW. Both reviews took place in February and March, and the concluding observations from both the CEDAW committee[3] and Human Rights Committee have now been published.

The Human Rights Committee’s second review of Angola took place on the 7th and 8th of March 2019, with the concluding observations issued on the 28th March. The concluding observations highlighted the progress that Angola has made in promoting and protecting civil and political rights over the past four years. Notable achievements include:

  • Approval of a new Penal Code in 2019 which criminalised acts of discrimination based on sexual orientation
  • Regulation of the employment quota for people with disabilities
  • Approval of a new strategic plan on the prevention and combatting of corruption (2018)
  • Approval of a national policy for gender equality and equity (2013)
  • Approval of an executive plan to combat domestic violence (2013)

The committee’s main concerns included the continued existence of widespread corruption; reports of excessive use of force used by law enforcement officers, notably in cases of peaceful demonstrations and against asylum seekers and refugees; overcrowding and harsh detention conditions; reports of mass expulsions of migrants and asylum seekers; the persistence of traditional stereotypes regarding men and women in family and society which have an adverse impact on women’s enjoyment of civil and political rights. The Committee issued recommendations on each area of concern, focussing on the promotion and protection of all civil and political rights contained within the Covenant, in law and in practice, and an increase in inclusive and targeted awareness activities on all rights.

Angola’s next periodic report is due by the 29th March 2023.

To read the full report from the Committee, please follow the link[4]:

https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/Treaties/CCPR/Shared%20Documents/AGO/CCPR_C_AGO_CO_2_34487_E.pdf

 

[1] International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Convention on the Elimination of a forms of Discrimination against Women, Convention on the Rights of the Child, Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

[2] Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Convention on the Elimination of al forms of Racial Discrimination, Convention on the Protection of the Rights of all Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.

[3] To read a summary of the CEDAW committee’s concluding observations, please see here: https://direitoshumanosangola.org/angola-cedaw-review/

[4] Currently only available in English. The link will be updated when a version in Portuguese or Spanish is made available.

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UCAN Legal Clinic and Training Course on Human Rights

The Secretary of State for Human Rights and Citizenship, Dr. Ana Celeste C. Januário, participated on April 8 of this year in the Opening of the Training Course on Human Rights 2019 of the members of the Legal Clinic of the Catholic University of Angola (FDUCAN).

http://www.servicos.minjusdh.gov.ao/noticias-e-eventos/41/clinica-juridica-da-ucan-e-curso-de-capacitacao-em-materia-de-direitos-humanos-da-fducan

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Angola commits to the protection of defenders of environmental human rights

Angola has joined the promoters of the United Nations Resolution, “Recognizing the contribution of human rights defenders to the enjoyment of human rights, with the support of a dossier” (A / HRC / 40/11), adopted by consensus during the 40th Human Rights Annulment Session held in Geneva on 27 February 2010, in which Angola ranks first with a delegation headed by His Excellency Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Manuel Domingos Augusto, assisted by the Secretary of Human Rights Human Rights and Citizenship, Dr. Ana Celeste Cardoso Januários, and Secretary of State for the Family and Promotion of Women, Eng. Ruth M. Mixingue.

http://www.servicos.minjusdh.gov.ao/noticias-e-eventos/40/angola-comprometida-com-a-proteccao-dos-defensores-dos-direitos-humanos-ambientais

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Angola CEDAW review

On 27th February 2019, Angola participated in the review of their 7th periodic report on the implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). The Convention, commonly referred to as CEDAW, is the main international human rights treaty focusing on the rights of women. CEDAW defines discrimination against women and provides an agenda for national action to end gender-based discrimination. Discrimination within the convention is defined as “any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field”.

Angola ratified CEDAW in 1986 and is therefore bound to implement the rights it contains. As part of this, Angola must submit national reports every four years to the CEDAW Committee illustrating the measures they have taken to comply with CEDAW’s obligations and the progress they have made. At the end of the reporting process, the Committee reviews the report with Angola and then issues concluding observations highlighting progress as well as areas of concern and recommendations for the next four years. The concluding observations of Angola’s 7th periodic report were issued on 6th March 2019.

The concluding observations highlight the progress Angola has made on improving women’s rights and the implementation of the Convention since the last report in 2013, noting legislative reforms as well as efforts made by the government to improve its institutional and policy framework to accelerate the elimination of discrimination against women and promoting gender equality. Notable achievements include:

  • The establishment of a legal and social protection scheme for domestic workers
  • A national policy for gender equality and equity
  • A national action plan for the implementation of UN Security Council resolution 1325 on women, peace and security, and
  • An executive plan to combat domestic violence.

The Committee’s main concerns included women’s widespread lack of awareness of their rights; the lack of a comprehensive definition of discrimination; disproportionate lack of access to justice for women in all aspects of life; persistent and harmful stereotypes and practices against women; lack of protection from gender-based violence; lack of women participating in political and public life; and the fact that women still face disproportionate discrimination in access to education, employment, and health services. The committee also highlighted that these concerns/lack of access to rights disproportionately affect women from rural areas, women from minority groups, and migrant and asylum seeker women. Recommendations relating to each area of concern were made, focussing on the protection and promotion of rights using a gender-sensitive approach, both in law and in practice, and inclusive and targeted awareness-raising activities of the Convention and the rights contained within it.

To read the full report from the Committee, please follow the link[1]: https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=CEDAW%2fC%2fAGO%2fCO%2f7&Lang=en

[1] Currently only available in English. The link will be updated when a version in Portuguese or Spanish is made available.

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Ratification of international human rights treaties

The Angolan Council of Ministers has today announced that they have approved the ratification of international human rights treaties, including the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination; the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights concerning the Abolition of the Death Penalty; Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and Relating to the Protection of Victims of Non-International Armed Conflicts; the Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons; and the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness.

The decision has now been sent to the National Assembly and will thereafter be sent to the President for ratification.

Please follow the link to the Ministry of Justice and Human Right’s press release:

https://direitoshumanosangola.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/Nota-de-Imprensa-Tratados-de-DHAprovação-CM.pdf

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Democratic progress during a global decline

According to Freedom House’s Freedom in the World Report, 2018 was the 13th year in a row showing an overall decline in global freedom and democracy. Despite this, Angola, who is classified as ‘Not Free’, increased by 5 points from 2017, making them the country with the 4th largest one-year gain in 2018. Alongside this, Angola was deemed by Transparency International in this year’s Corruption Perceptions Index as a country to watch in Sub-Saharan Africa due to their continued positive progression since 2015.

Over the past one and a half years, Angola has undergone a dramatic change, highlighted by their recent increases in global democracy and corruption measuring indices. In 2017, after 38 years in power, the Angolan president, José Eduardo dos Santos, stepped down from power before elections. Dos Santos’ party successor, João Lourenço, won the elections and took over as President in September 2017. Since coming into power, Lourenço has initiated a number of unprecedented reforms and cracked down on corruption in the country. Over 2018, these reforms have been accompanied by an increasing openness in Angolan society surrounding democracy, governance and human rights. The media, especially, has enjoyed increased freedom and openness to report on sensitive issues such as corruption and human rights. This can most notably be demonstrated by President Lourenço’s meeting with, long-time critic of the government and journalist, Rafael Marques de Morais in December 2018.[1]

Lourenço’s reforms have been widespread, ranging from boosting investment in the oil sector, promoting diversification in the economy, to firing government officials for corruption, including the former president’s daughter and son. Furthermore, in 2018, the Angolan government launched their first ever national strategy for human rights. The National Human Rights Strategy is a guiding document that aims to frame the actions of the Government of Angola in the human rights field. The strategy recognises and acknowledges the main challenges and constraints of human rights in Angola, noting the widespread lack of knowledge on human rights norms and related legislation by the general population. Furthermore, it takes on board the lack of realisation of human rights related to health, education, access to land and housing, freedom of assembly and expression, and freedom of the press, whilst proposing a mid-term strategy for improving the human rights situation in Angola. The main objectives highlighted include the promotion of human rights education, increased dialogue between government and civil society, promotion of freedom of expression, association and the press, and the promotion of gender equality.

Despite these positive actions, Angola remains a country marred by widespread corruption (Angola scored 19 out of 100 in the 2018 CPI) and is still classified as ‘Not Free’ on the Freedom in the World report. Inequality is high, the mean income per person is $3,110 despite almost two thirds of the population living on less than $3.10 a day and child and maternal mortality rates are among the world’s highest. Angola still has a long way to go, but the recent positive progress they have made should not be ignored, especially when global trends are showing a decline in democracy and freedom in most other places. Looking forward to 2019, Angola is due to conduct their third cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). The UPR Review is a state-driven process under the UN Human Rights Council that takes place every four years, providing states with the opportunity to declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and what they plan to do in the next four years. The UPR in 2019 will provide an opportunity for both the government and civil society to voice their opinions and/or concerns on the human rights situation in Angola and formulate a plan for the next four years, in line with the new national human rights strategy.

When discussing Sub-Saharan Africa as a region, the Freedom in the World report highlights both Angola and Ethiopia for the reforms their new Presidents have committed to, stating that “if the new administrations are able to dismantle the repressive legal and political frameworks they inherited, they may serve as important models for their neighbors and significantly improve the democratic trajectory of the continent as a whole”. As a further example, on January 23rd 2019, Angola became the 23rd country in Africa to decriminalise homosexuality and outlaw discrimination against someone on the grounds of their sexual identity and/or orientation. Angola are certainly beginning the year with a very positive step forward.

[1] Rafael Marques de Morais is an Angolan journalist, political activist, and head of the anti-corruption watchdog Maka Angola. He is a major critic of the Angolan government and has previously been arrested and charged with defamation for articles he has written regarding the Angolan government under President José Eduardo dos Santos.

Author: Hannah Hills