By Enyichukwu Enemanna
Washington-based human rights organisation, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has accused the police and other security agents in Angola of carrying out arbitrary arrests and detention of hundreds of persons, including the killing of at least 15 activists and protest organisers since January this year.
HRW on Monday therefore urged the government to immediately investigate the reports of abuse and rights violation against law enforcement authorities including police, state security and intelligence services who “have been implicated in unlawful killings of at least 15 people.”
Apart from political activists and protest organisers, artists were also another main targets of the “alleged rights violations,” which HRW has condemned.
“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 Monday.
HRW further alleged that though the government has attempted to improve law enforcement, criminal prosecutions against police officers who commit these violations remain rare.
The arrests it says are more frequent in the oil rich northern province of Cabinda, close to the Democratic Republic of Congo.
In the last six months, HRW has interviewed 32 people across the country including victims and their relatives, witnesses and security sources, an AFP report says.
In one instance men who identified as criminal investigation service members held a group of young men in custody “whose bodies were found three days later at a hospital morgue.”
A friend of the victims, who were known for participating in anti-government protests, said that police had been monitoring the group, according to the report.
Angola’s ruling party, the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), has denied HRW’s claims.
“Investigations are already underway,” party spokesman Rui Falcao told AFP.
“However, we find it strange that those calling for the necessary investigations already have conclusions and are passing judgement,” Falcao said.
According to the HRW the country’s leading opposition, UNITA, said it had documented over 130 cases of people being killed by security forces during protests since 2017.
On Saturday, thousands of people called for Angola’s President Joao Lourenco to step down during a rally in the capital organized by UNITA to commemorate its late leader.