SouthernDefenders and KUTAKESA denounce the unlawful detention of Zola de Caridade Neves Álvaro and three others
16 September 2022
Luanda | Johannesburg
The Southern Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (SouthernDefenders) and Associação KUTAKESA (KUTAKESA) unequivocally condemn the unlawful arrest of human rights defender, Zola de Caridade Neves Álvaro, following several criticisms he levelled at the National Electoral Commission of Angola, regarding its handling of the recently concluded General Elections.
According to reports received, on 14 September 2022, youth members in Angola took to the streets to protest their dissatisfaction with the outcome of the elections that recently gave another 5-year term to the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), citing a lack of impartiality and transparency in the electoral process. However, the police prevented the demonstration from happening, by intimidating civilians and arresting at least three people who were interviewed by journalists at the scene.
We further condemn the arrest of Zola de Caridade Neves Álvaro who remains in prison for more than 48 hours without charge, despite not attending the aforementioned protest on 14 September 2022. According to information received, Zola was at home with his family when several policemen, who were not dressed in official police uniform, entered the premises in unidentified vehicles and forcibly arrested him, without a warrant of arrest. When the family and neighbours demanded reasons for the arrest, the policemen responded with aggression by allegedly firing several gunshots in the air.
As SouthernDefenders and KUTAKESA, we remain deeply concerned by the reckless and unlawful use of intimidation and violence against peaceful civilians who exercise their basic human rights to freedom of expression and assembly. We are also deeply disturbed by the repeated failure of the government to guarantee the peaceful and lawful exercise of constitutionally protected rights that are also recognized in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as well as the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, both of which Angola has ratified.
The government of Angola has a duty to recognize and protect the rights of citizens, including the right to agree or disagree with those in power, without fear or unlawful interference by the same. We urge the authorities to exercise responsible and decisive leadership during this time by ensuring that police in the country adhere to the rule of law and denounce the misuse of the criminal justice system.
We further urge the Angolan authorities to:
- Immediately and unconditionally release Zola de Caridade Neves Álvaro and the other three peaceful protesters, as it is clear that their detention is arbitrary, and it is only aimed at silencing them;
- Refrain from unlawfully detaining and prosecuting civilians, human rights defenders, journalists, and pro-democracy activists in the country as a means of intimidating them or discouraging them from doing their work;
- Protect the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, in line with its international and regional human rights obligations;
- Guarantee an end to the crackdown on civic space and human rights defenders, in line with the Constitution of Angola as well as regional and international human rights instruments.
For more information please contact:
Godinho Cristóvão, Associação KUTAKESA, Executive Director: +244 926 981 520 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Simphiwe Sidu, SouthernDefenders Regional Legal Adviser: +27 76 675 8168 / email@example.com