UN human rights office in Angola to close

The United Nations will close its human rights office in Angola after the authorities there withdrew their cooperation, the office of the high commissioner said on Friday.

Angola has ordered the office to cease its operations by the end of May after pulling out of talks to establish a formal agreement to regulate the rights body’s work in the country.

UN High Commissioner Louise Arbour “respected but regretted” the government’s decision, her office said in a statement.

“We look forward to examining any fresh initiatives the government may suggest in line with its voluntary pledge to the Human Rights Council to increase its cooperation with my office,” Arbour added.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has had a presence in Angola since 2003, one year after the end of a devastating civil war that lasted for nearly three decades.

During that time it helped establish a national human rights institution, promoted human rights education and assisted the Ministry of Justice in mediation and conciliation efforts.

Arbour’s office said that Angola “still faces many challenges on the human rights front”.

After Angola’s independence from Portugal in 1975, the civil war raged between the ruling Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), backed by Cuban troops, and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (Unita) rebels backed by South Africa’s white minority apartheid government.

Pretoria’s forces invaded Angola in a bid to prevent it from providing a base for African National Congress militants battling apartheid as well as fighters for Namibian independence from South African rule.—Sapa-AFP

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