HRW accuses Angolan police of killing more than a dozen activists

Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported on Monday that Angola’s police have purportedly been involved in the deaths of more than twelve activists since January.

The NGO stated that the country’s law enforcement agencies have also faced accusations of carrying out arbitrary arrests and detaining hundreds of individuals.

According to HRW, Angolan law enforcement entities, which include the police, state security, and intelligence services, have been linked to the unlawful killings of a minimum of 15 individuals.

The “alleged rights violations” were predominantly directed at political activists, artists, and protest organizers, which HRW has denounced.

“Angolan authorities should urgently act to end abusive police policies and practices and ensure that there is justice for victims and their family members,” Zenaida Machado, senior Africa researcher at HRW said in the statement.

While the government has made efforts to enhance law enforcement, HRW noted that criminal prosecutions against police officers involved in such violations continue to be infrequent.

The arrests occur more frequently in the oil-rich northern province of Cabinda, which is situated near the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Over the past six months, HRW has conducted interviews with 32 individuals nationwide, including victims, their family members, witnesses, and security sources.

On one occasion, individuals who claimed to be members of the criminal investigation service detained a group of young men, and their bodies were discovered three days later at a hospital morgue.

A close acquaintance of the victims, who were recognized for their involvement in anti-government protests, mentioned that the police had been observing the group.

Angola’s governing party, the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), has refuted the allegations made by HRW.

“Investigations are already underway,” party spokesman Rui Falcao told media.

“However, we find it strange that those calling for the necessary investigations already have conclusions and are passing judgement,” Falcao said.

HRW reported that the primary opposition party in the country, UNITA, has stated that it has recorded more than 130 instances of individuals being killed by security forces during protests since 2017.

During a rally in the capital city, organized by UNITA to commemorate its late leader, thousands of individuals gathered on Saturday and demanded the resignation of Angola’s President Joao Lourenco.

Since the government terminated petrol subsidies in June, the oil-rich southern African country has witnessed a surge of protests.

The intention behind this action was to reduce government expenditures, as the economy grapples with a decline in oil prices that has led to a depreciation of the local currency, the kwanza. However, this measure led to unpopular significant increases in fuel prices.

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