CJFE protests persecution of Angolan journalists

Wednesday, March 22, 2000

Hon Jose Eduardo dos Santos
President of Angola
Fax: 244 2 321 034

Your Excellency,

Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) is deeply concerned about the imprisonment and persecution of Angolan journalists over the past year. CJFE is an independent organization that works worldwide to promote free expression in accordance with Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

According to our information, Andre Domingos Mussamo, editor of the Cuanza Norte provincial branch of Angolan National Radio, was arrested in December 1999 and accused of violating state secrets. Mussamo has been imprisoned without charge for over 90 days, though the Angolan law allows suspects to be detained for no more than 45 days without charge. We understand that Mr. Mussamo has not been receiving adequate medical attention for injuries he sustained in a serious car accident prior to his imprisonment.

CJFE is also concerned about the ongoing trial of freelance journalist Rafael Marques who has been charged with criminal defamation because of an article critical of the president. Mr. Marques was charged along with two co-defendants, Antonio Josó Freitas and Aguiar Dos Santos of the independent newspaper "Agora." We have particular concern for Mr. Dos Santos, as we had the pleasure of meeting him in our offices in Canada.

The trial itself seems to be lacking accepted judicial standards. The judge, Joaquim de Abreu Cangato, a former member of the Angolan secret police, apparently has never studied law or any related discipline. Judge Cangato has also closed the trial to the public, including media and diplomatic officials.

Both the prolonged imprisonment of Andre Domingos Mussamo and the ongoing trial of Rafael Marques and his co-defendants seem to contravene the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as well as the constitution of Angola. CJFE requests the release of Andre Domingos Mussamo and that the trial of Rafael Marques and his co-defendants be conducted with proper judicial process. CJFE will be monitoring the situation in closely and will be drawing international attention to violations against journalists in Angola. We hope that the situation for independent journalists in Angola changes in favor of democracy and free expression immediately.

Sincerely,

Sharmini Peries
CJFE Executive Director

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