Angolan journo recognised for anti-corruption fight

Angolan journalist and anti-corruption campaigner Rafael Marques de Morais has won a prestigious award recognising his efforts to fight graft and expose human rights abuse.

Transparency International is due to award Marques its 2013 Integrity award at a ceremony in Germany on Friday.

Marques (42) has written extensively about corruption and human rights abuses in his country and is a leading critic of President José Eduardo dos Santos, who has been in power for 34 years.

His detailed reports, which skillfully trace shareholdings via shell companies and offshore companies, allege many members of the elite, including Dos Santos and his children, are involved in money laundering and other corrupt acts.

Marques has led questions about the legitimacy of the billions accrued by Dos Santos’s daughter Isabel, and his research led to the United States financial regulator, the Securities Exchange Commission, launching an investigation into a firm linked to Angola’s vice-president.

Years of dedicated reportage about violent abuse and social injustice at Angolan diamond mines culminated in his 2011 book, Blood Diamonds, for which he was taken to court for defamation by a group of Angolan generals, whom he accused of committing crimes against humanity.

Marques, who has been arrested several times, most recently in October while reporting on an anti-government protest in Luanda, spent 40 days in prison in 1999 following his now infamous article “The lipstick of the dictatorship”.

As well as contributing to various academic journals, he also runs the popular website Maka Angola, an important alternative news source in a country where the media is heavily controlled.

Marques, who has an MSc in African Studies from Oxford University, has presented his work to conferences around the world as well as to audiences at the US state department and the European Parliament.

He shares the 2013 Integrity award with Chinese journalist Luo Changping, who took a great risk when he named a high-ranking government official accused of illegal financial dealings.

Huguette Labelle, chair of Transparency International, said: “Our winners this year represent everything our international movement stands for as we work to end the abuse of power, secret dealings and bribery. People challenge corruption in their own way and Marques and Luo are an inspiration for the way they chose to combat this scourge.”

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