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Angola threatens to close down human rights organisation

The Angolan government is threatening to close the Association for Justice, Peace and Democracy (AJPD), one of the country’s most active human rights organisations.

The constitutional court began proceedings to ban AJPD, a Christian Aid partner organisation, on 4 September. AJPD has been given until 19 September to present its case against the ban.

Angola held its first elections in 16 years on 5 September which were seen as a crucial step to democracy after the country’s 27-year war. The ruling MPLA is expected to win a landslide victory; there have been allegations of widespread vote-rigging.

In recent years the government has conducted a consistent campaign of harassment and intimidation against human rights activists and organisations.

In June, prior to the elections, AJPD called on the Angolan authorities not to unilaterally change the electoral law and extend the elections over two days, rather than one. Prior to the elections AJPD also put out statements condemning alleged electoral irregularities and vote-buying.

Fernando Macedo, the president of AJPD said: ‘These attempts to change the Angola constitution and electoral law have created an unnecessary climate of suspicion and also damaged the credibility of our institutions.’

In 2007 the government’s humanitarian aid coordinator stated only NGOs which provided a ‘social impact’ would be permitted to work in Angola. He then accused four Angolan human rights organisations, including AJPD, of alleging human rights violations as cover for breaking the law.

In May 2008 the government closed the UN office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Angola. The government banned the only human rights organisation working in the province of Cabinda in 2006.

Rosario Advirta, Christian Aid’s programme manager in Angola said: 'AJPD is doing important civic and human rights defence work. AJPD and its work is in full compliance with the Angolan constitution and the laws regulating all associations. There are no grounds for AJPD to be banned.

‘This new development against a human rights organisation is worrying, and may signal a further closing down of civic space. We hope this is not a consequence of the election results.’

Christian Aid has worked with partner organisations in Angola for 19 years.

ENDS

Notes to Editors:

For more information or interviews with Christian Aid partner organisations in Angola contact Florence Mutesasira on 01 775 8085, 086 1609405 (cell phone) or email fmutesasira@christian-aid.org

 

 

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