Report: Angolan police still violate human rights

Angolan police still violate human rights ranging from brutal slum clearance to torture, with no investigation or disciplinary action, Amnesty International said in a report released on Wednesday.

The report finds that despite a recent inclusion of human rights training in the police curriculum, the abuse of power and failure to bring perpetrators of these violations to justice goes on unhindered.

“Due to the requirement of complete obedience in the Angolan police force, police officers often carry out orders without questioning the legality of their actions,” said Muluka-Anne Miti, Amnesty International’s researcher on Angola. “This has resulted in officers participating in illegal actions, such as mass forced evictions and the beating of suspects and their families.”

The Angolan National Police force is underdeveloped for lack of adequate investment after a brutal 27-year civil war that ended in 2002. Many police were directly recruited from the armed forces.

“Prior to 1992, the police implemented legislation that violated fundamental human rights and freedoms,” reads the report, entitled Angola: Above the Law—Police Accountability in Angola.

The report, based on a research mission to the country in February, documents cases of human rights violations by police between 2005 and 2007, and details violations and meetings with high-ranking police officers.

In almost all of the documented cases of human rights violations, Amnesty International found no investigations were carried out, no disciplinary proceedings followed and no suspected perpetrators were brought to justice.

“The only way to stop the continuing human rights violations by the police is for police officers to be held accountable for their actions in a court of law,” said Mti.

The human rights body recorded cases of excessive force during forced evictions and demolitions, carried out since July 2001, as well as many cases of torture that resulted in death.

“A major concern of Amnesty International is the failure of the legislature to enact legislation that clearly prohibits and penalises torture, ill-treatment and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and punishment,” the report says.

Amnesty International is concerned about the lack of disciplinary action taken against officers, which reinforces ongoing police impunity.

Despite the opening of complaints offices in most cities, there is a marked lack of response to community members, although the media and local NGOs play an important role in bringing violations to light.

The report urges the Angolan government to bring its laws governing policing in line with international standards, and to promote “a human rights-based approach to policing and end police impunity for human rights violations”.—Sapa-AFP


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