MISA Angola appeals for increased monitoring, support for free expression in Angola
23 May 2016
On May 15 2016, a General of the Angolan Armed Forces and head of the Military Intelligence and Security Service labelled Rafael Marques “the enemy of Angola” and made an ‘ominous’ call on his subordinates for what he termed as “treatment as such” against journalist and human rights defender Rafael Marques de Morais.[General] Zé Maria was speaking to a group of 100 officers, including generals, at a meeting to commemorate Pentecost, the Christian feast.
According to reports, the head of military security substantiated his claim showing two images displaying the journalist with the caption “the Devil in Angola”
MISA-Angola took note of this report – in its format as well as its audience – and without hesitation expresses its concern, recalling that in a not too distant past meetings at such level and in that type of language foreshadowed harmful events against the lives of those at whom they were directed.
MISA-Angola finds odd:
- The ‘simple’ fact that, Pentecost being the day of a Christian feast, that it should serve as the reason for the celebration on the grounds of a military institution, in a secular state according to the Constitution of the Republic;
- The terms and the language used by the head of the Military Security, of which there is no knowledge, the content of the evidence on which he based his claims to qualify Rafael Marques de Morais “enemy of Angola”, a journalist and human rights defender, currently the most distinguished internationally.
Position of MISA-Angola:
- The head of the Military Security should inform the public opinion of the seriousness of the exercise of the activity of investigative journalism in a democratic environment.
- Rather than being considered “enemy of Angola”, state institutions should see in Rafael Marques a partner in the fight against corruption and for human rights.
- MISA-Angola condemns the attitude of the general who uses a public institution to issue threats.
- Angolan society lacks investigative journalism. Instead of persecuting journalists, the state must stimulate this type of journalism if it wants to build a solid and respectable democracy with effective control of the management of public resources.
- MISA-Angola appeals to national and international institutions for increased monitoring of the environment in Angola, where the economic and financial crisis has strained the way the government and citizens relate to each other in the exercise of constitutional rights.
Chairperson of MISA-Angola
MISA is a regional non-governmental organisation with members in 11 of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) countries. Officially launched in September 1992, MISA focuses primarily on the need to promote free, independent and pluralistic media, as envisaged in the 1991 Windhoek Declaration.