On Tuesday, The United States Department of State released a comprehensive report surrounding the status of human rights in Angola. Angola, a constitutional republic, was found to take “significant steps to prosecute or punish officials who committed abuses.”
Significant human rights issues included: unlawful or arbitrary killings, including extrajudicial killings by government security forces; cases of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment by government security forces; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary detention; political prisoners or detainees; serious restrictions on free expression and the press, including violence, threats of violence or unjustified arrests against journalists and criminal libel laws; serious acts of corruption; lack of investigation of and accountability for violence against women; and crimes involving violence or threats of violence targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex persons.
A lack of institutional capacity coupled with a weak checks and balances contribute to Angola’s challenges in addressing human rights abuses committed by rogue and governmental forces alike. Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions often came with brutal enforcement, which the government has been diligent in holding accountable.
Despite the current challenges, Angola last elections in 2017 were widely considered peaceful and generally free by the international community. The majority of the nation’s strife comes from domestic groups such as the Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda. Cabinda, an enclave separated from Angola by the Democratic Republic of Congo, has seen a violent history due to its struggles for independence from Angola.
In June, Cabinda provincial authorities arrested and charged three independent activists who were carrying pamphlets that said various pro-independence slogans including, “Cabinda is not Angola.” The international human rights organization Associacao Maos Livres is currently demanding their release.
Furthermore, Angola reported cases of domestic violence increased during COVID-19 restrictions. “According to a Ministry of Social Action, Family and Promotion of Women (MASFAMU) report between March and May, 567 cases of domestic violence were reported in the second trimester of 2020 versus 444 reported cases in the first trimester.” Sexual harassment remains common and is not illegal, although it may be prosecuted under certain circumstances.
Overall, Angola faces challenges in addressing abuses concerning governmental security forces, separatist movements, and women. The nation has shown willingness to address these issues and the current democratic trend sheds light of a hopeful future for the southern African nation.