Civil Society Petition: Calling for the Immediate Release and Urgent Medical Attention for Human Rights Defender Tanaice Neutro in Angola
To: President João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço
Cc: Minister of Justice Francisco Manuel Monteiro de Queiroz
06 June 2023
The undersigned civil society groups and individuals from across the African continent come together to write this petition addressed to the Angolan authorities, urgently requesting the immediate release of human rights defender (HRD) Tanaice Neutro. We also implore the authorities to provide him with the necessary medical attention he urgently requires.
Tanaice Neutro has been unlawfully detained since his arrest on January 13, 2022. The incident leading to his arrest occurred when he visited the Criminal Investigation Services (SIC) in Luanda, the capital of Angola, seeking information about the whereabouts and well-being of another human rights activist who had been apprehended two days earlier during a taxi driver’s strike.
According to Amnesty International, Tanaice Neutro was arrested due to his social media videos expressing his frustration with the state of affairs in Angola. In these videos, he highlighted the high poverty levels, governance issues, corruption, and repression, while calling on Angolans to stand up for their rights. Tanaice Neutro referred to the president as a ‘clown’ and labelled governmental authorities as ‘ignorant’ for misusing the criminal justice system to persecute innocent individuals.
In October 2022, Tanaice Neutro was convicted of causing outrage against state symbols, resulting in a suspended sentence of 15 months. Due to his deteriorating health, the trial judge ordered his immediate release from custody on health grounds. Despite this court order for his release, the Angolan authorities have unlawfully continued to detain Tanaice Neutro without a legal basis.
It is deeply concerning that Tanaice Neutro is currently experiencing severe physical and mental anguish, requiring urgent medical attention. Although it is acknowledged that the Public Prosecutor’s Office has appealed to the Court of Appeal, and the appeal is still pending, we are dismayed by the prolonged pre-trial and post-trial detention without bail. This flagrant disregard for the right to a fair trial and access to justice amounts to extrajudicial punishment. Tanaice Neutro must be released immediately and unconditionally.
Furthermore, we strongly urge the Angolan authorities to repeal or appropriately amend Article 333 of the Penal Code, which makes it precarious for anyone in Angola to criticize the President and governmental authorities openly. This legislation poses a significant threat to the people of Angola, hindering their ability to freely express their opinions and enjoy the fundamental right to freedom of expression. Such laws have no place in a modern democracy and do not serve the public interest.
In conclusion, we call upon the Angolan authorities to act swiftly and in accordance with their international human rights obligations. Release Tanaice Neutro without delay, ensuring that he receives the necessary medical attention.
- Central Africa Defenders Network
- West Africa Human Rights Defenders Network
- Mozambique Network of HRDs
- Network of the Independent Commission for Human Rights in North Africa (CIDH AFRICA)
- Human Rights Defenders Network-Sierra Leone
- International Service for Human Rights
- Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights
- Mozambique Human Rights Defenders Network (RMDDH)
- Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD Moz)
- Amnesty International
- Consortium of Ethiopian Human Rights Organizations (CEHRO)
- Protection International Africa
- Youth and Society (YAS) -Malawi
- Laweyers of defender Moçambique
- Prof Adriano Nuvunga
- Tanele Maseko
- Arnold Tsunga
- Lepeli Moeketsi
- St Pierre Tsibangu
- Roshnee Narrandes
- Margareth Nangacovie
- Roselyn Hanzi
- Sheila Nhancale p
- Cídia Chissungo
- Mesud G. Reta
- António Ventura
- Cesaltina Abreu
- Admire Mlilo
- Charles Kajoloweka
- Cristina Jorge Manuel