Angola Rejects Allegations of Human Rights Abuses

140 95 Rapaport News

Press Release: The government of Angola categorically refutes the allegations of human rights abuses as reported by the non-governmental organization BICC, based in Berlin, Germany.

Since the establishment of the Kimberley Process,  Angola has been the subject of two review missions.  Neither review mission reported any fact, direct or indirect, linked to violence around the artisanal diamond mining sector. The last report of 2009 has recommended  Angola for its positive contribution to the living standards of the people of the country and this following increased revenue from diamond mining activities.

Further, the 2009 report explicitly said,   “At present Angola’s investment climate is favorable. There is peace and freedom of movement of the country’s people, services and judicial protection of private investments and legal guarantees to protect reinvestment and repatriation of financial assets.”

On the April 24, 2013 the provinces of Lunda Norte and Lunda Sul were visited by the United Nations (UN) high commissioner for human rights, Navi Pillay. The high commissioner explicitly stated that, “Angola has indisputably made a great deal of progress in the 10 years since the end of the conflict in 2002, aided by abundant natural resources, especially oil and diamonds. The government has invested heavily in important infrastructure including schools, medical facilities, major housing projects, water and electricity supplies, improved prisons, and thousands of kilometers of roads. Work continues to remove the many thousands of landmines, which continue to blight so much of the country’s beautiful, fertile and remarkably unpopulated interior.”

Pillay also addressed the issue of the living conditions of the many illegal immigrants from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) on the 2,600-kilometer-long border the countries share and confirmed the extreme complexity of the matter.

“I fully accept that the irregular entry of tens of thousands of migrants into Angola every year, many of them seeking to dig illegally for diamonds, is causing major problems for the government, which has a right to set limits to migration and to regulate a key industry. It also has a right to deport irregular migrants, but must do so humanely and in full compliance with international human rights laws and standards. I support efforts to tackle this extremely complex and difficult issue at a regional level, and have agreed to raise the issue of closer cooperation by the DRC, from where around 80 percent of the migrants entering Angola originate.”

At the same time, the government of Angola remains fully committed to eradicating any form of human rights violations within the framework of humane and regular returns of the many illegal immigrants to their homes.

As mentioned by Pillay, Angola welcomes the appointment of a human rights advisor from the high commissioner’s office to assist and help whenever possible in that regard.

Furthermore, the government of Angola questions the motives behind the publication of the BICC report, which was published exactly at the moment that the Kimberley Process intercessional meeting was held in Kimberley, South Africa. Both the timing and the non-factual allegations make clear that the main driver behind the publication was to put pressure on reforms currently being addressed within the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme and about which there is strong discontent within nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) about the speed with which progress is made.

The government of Angola regrets that no proper inquiries were made to substantiate the unfounded allegations and that it has been used as a scapegoat to push forward a reform agenda which currently is not supported by all participants.

Angola fully confirms the closing statement of Pillay’s report.  “In general, my impression at the end of this visit is that the government of Angola is genuinely committed to improving human rights. If the government does create a robust national human rights institution, if the constitutional court is enabled to live up to its potential, and if the other key state institutions continue to strive to improve, then I believe Angola can become a model not just in this region, but for many other countries as well.”

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