Press Release on the Promotion Mission of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to the Republic of Angola (3 – 7 October 2016)

    At the invitation of the Government of the Republic of Angola, and in accordance with Article 45(1) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the Charter), a Delegation of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the Commission) undertook a human rights promotion mission in Angola from 3 to 7 October 2016.

    The Delegation was composed of:

    ·         Honourable Commissioner Pansy Tlakula, Chairperson of the Commission and Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa (Head of Delegation);and

    ·         Honourable Commissioner Soyata Maiga, Vice-Chairperson of the Commission, Commissioner in charge of  Angola, Chairperson of the Committee on the Protection of the Rights of People Living With HIV (PLHIV) and Those at Risk, Vulnerable to and Affected by HIV, and Chairperson of the Working Group on Indigenous Populations/Communities in Africa.

    The objectives of the mission were, inter alia, to promote the African Charter, the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (the Maputo Protocol) and other regional and international human rights legal instruments; strengthen relations between the Commission and the Republic of Angola with regard to the promotion and protection of the rights guaranteed by the Charter and other relevant legal instruments; collect information on the general human rights situation in Angola; engage in dialogue with the Government on the legislative and other measures taken to give full effect to the provisions of the African Charter and other instruments ratified by Angola, and where necessary identify the challenges faced; visit prisons and other detention centres in order to learn about the conditions of detention in the Republic of Angola; monitor the implementation of the recommendations made in the report following the mission that was undertaken in Angola in 2010 and the recommendations contained in the Commission’s Concluding Observations adopted following Angola’s presentation of its Combined Periodic Report in 2012. 

    During the mission, the Delegation held discussions with state and non-state actors involved in the promotion and protection of human and peoples’ rights in Angola. The mission held meetings with a panel of ministers and senior government officials, including the Minister of Justice and Human Rights, the Ministry of External Relations, the Minister of Health, the Minister of Family and Gender, the Minister of Interior, the Ministry of Social Communication and Minister of Education. The Delegation also met with the Ombudsman, the President of the Supreme Court, the Attorney – General of the Republic of Angola, the First Vice-President and others members of the National Assembly, the representative of UN Resident Coordinator of the UN System and the representatives Civil Society organisations.

    The Delegation also visited the National Institute to combat against HIV AIDS, the Viana Prison, and the Detention Facilities Hospital of Sao Paulo.

    The Delegation commends the Government of Angola for its political will and commitment towards the effective enjoyment of human rights, including through the adoption, since the last visit of the Commission to Angola in 2010, of legislative and other measures to implement the African Charter and other ratified regional and international human rights instruments.

    The Delegation notes the following positive developments:

    ·         The ratification of several regional and international instruments;

    ·         The commitment of the authorities to ensure that the country meets its obligation to submit periodic reports on the status of implementation of the Charter and the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, under Article 62 of the Charter and Article 26 of the Protocol by January 2017;

    ·         The  enactment  of an  amnesty law  for certain categories of prisoners;

    ·         Legal reforms in several areas, such as communication and  justice;

    ·         Reform of preventive detention which is now used as an exception;

    ·         Implementation of the domestic violence  law;

    ·         The efforts made in the area of access to justice, such as the creation of new tribunals at provincial level, the establishment  of legal aid fund and the increasing of the number of judges , magistrates and prosecutors;

    ·         The inclusion of human rights in the curricula of training of judges and others judicial officers;

    ·         The promotion and integration of a gender dimension in the national policies and programmes;

    ·         Empowerment of women particularly rural women;

    ·         The progress made in the appointment of women at senior  position in government and in the National Assembly; 

    ·         Commitment to attain 40% representation of women in all sectors of society by 2017;

    ·         Establishment of program to educate youth on sexual reproductive health and rights;

    ·         The awareness-raising efforts and existing programmes to eradicate the HIV-AIDS, in particular among the youth and in the prevention of mother-to-child transmission;

    ·         The increase of health facilities within the country and number of trained doctors and existing program programs to reduce child and maternal mortality;

    ·         Existing human rights training for police  and prison officers;

    ·         Working on establishing a mechanism for the implementation of the convention  against Torture;

    ·         Satisfactory detention conditions at Viana Prison and at the Detention facilities hospitals  of Sao Paulo;

    ·         The existence of satisfactory rehabilitation program at the Viana Prison

    ·         The commitment of the authorities to ensure that the country meets its obligation for people to enjoy  the right to education; by increasing the number of high school in provinces, introducing learning in local languages and development of specifics program for learners with disability.

    In spite of these positive aspects, the Delegation is concerned about a number of challenges, including the following:

    ·         The delays in ratifying regional and international instruments, in particular the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance and  the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights establishing the African Court on Human and People’s Rights

    ·         The  continuing  existence of  the crime of defamation in the Penal Code which limit the right to freedom of expression;

    ·         The delays, in Parliament, in adopting  laws including the Penal  Code and Media laws  that have been submitted;

    ·         The need to Parliament to adopt  Electoral laws in time for the 2017 elections;

    ·         The impact of the Presidential Decree 74/2015 on the registration of Non-Governmental Organisations on the enjoyment of the right to freedom of association;

    ·         The current economic situation which has impacted on the enjoyment of economic and social rights such as health, education and issuing and renewal of identity documents;

    ·         Lack of  effective land registration and ownership regulation;

    ·         The on-going  infrastructure development project that leads to mass eviction, without consultation and appropriate compensation;

    ·         The lack  of access to adequate housing;

    ·         The need to improve the birth registration system, especially for indigenous people;

    ·         Lack of implementation of the law on administration of documents to enhance access to information;

    ·         The absence of specifics measures , such as sign language to make information accessible for deaf people on national TV, particularly in the context of the electoral process;

    ·         Limited coverage of parliamentary proceeding on national television and radio;

    ·         The limited financial resources available to address the massive influx of migrants and asylum seekers in the country;

    ·         The weakness of  the working relationship between non-governmental organisation working in the area of human rights and the government ;

    ·         The few number of  non-governmental organisation who have applied for observers status with the African Commission;

    The Commission will prepare a detailed mission report with specifics recommendations. Meanwhile, the Delegation would like to make the following preliminary recommendations:

                        i.        To ratify regional and international instruments, in particular the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance and  the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights establishing the African Court on Human and People’s Rights and to make the declaration under article 34(6) of the Protocol to allow individuals and NGOs direct access to the Court;

                       ii.        Urges Parliament, to expedite the  adoption of laws including the Penal  Code, the  Media law and  the  Electoral laws;

                      iii.        Mobilise resources to enhance  programs and policies in the area of social and economic rights;

                      iv.        Enhance collaboration between government and  civil society organisation working in the area of human rights , through constructive dialogue;

                       v.        Request the Government to submit its overdue periodic reports, in accordance with Article 62 of the Charter and Article 26 of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa;

    The Delegation wishes to express its profound gratitude to the Government of the Republic of Angola for facilitating the mission and for the constructive dialogue with all the stakeholders.

    The Delegation expresses its particular appreciation to the Minister of External Affairs and Minister of Justice and Human Rights for making the mission a success.

    A press conference was organised at the end of the mission.

    Luanda, 7 October 2016

     

    For further information, please email:

    au-banjul@africa-union.org

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      Date: 07 October 2016

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