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The Oil Diagnostic in Angola: An Update
Human Rights Watch, March 2001
(Download PDF Version - 17 Pages)

First Page

Further Details on the Oil Diagnostic

The Cooperation of Corporations

Arms, Oil, and a Lack of Government Transparency and Accountability

Signature Bonus Payments and Arms Procurement after the Collapse of the Lusaka Peace Accords in 1998

Arrests over Arms-for-Oil Deals in 1993-1994

Recent Arms Flows to the Angolan Government

Oil Mortgaging

Government Attempts to Limit Public Criticism Over the Use of Oil Revenues


Recent Arms Flows to the Angolan Government

Recent arms procurement by the Angolan government highlighted the importance of oil as collateral for arms purchases and the lack of transparency in government procurement. These events underscored the need for the Angolan government to disclose its use of oil revenues and military expenditures in order to facilitate proper accounting and effective scrutiny of the government's activities.

Angola and Slovakia signed an arms-for-oil bartering agreement on April 3, 2000-the same day that the SMP was announced. This arms deal reportedly included the purchase of six SU-22 bombers and possibly T-72 battle tanks.68

On February 24, 2001, Spanish authorities on the Canary Islands seized a Ukrainian freighter carrying weapons destined for Angola. Authorities found approximately 636 metric tons of weapons, including grenades, night vision equipment, and ammunition aboard the ship that was seized after the captain failed to accurately report the cargo. The captain originally told the authorities that the ship was carrying automobile parts.69 Angolan government representatives acknowledged that the cargo was destined for the Angolan government and was legally purchased from the Russian state-arms company, Rosvooruzhenie (now a new agency named Rosoboroneksport), by the Angolan state-owned company, Simportex. However, Angolan officials acknowledged that Spanish authorities had still to determine whether the freighter captain had violated Spanish law by failing accurately to disclose the nature of the cargo.70

Hiding arms shipments to Angola by reporting them as another type of cargo has been a common practice, according to a shipping broker who monitors and arranges shipments to Angola. Previous arms shipments have been declared as agricultural equipment, fragile cargo, mining equipment, medicines, spare parts, or other products. For example, a Russian freighter delivered approximately 500 metric tons of Ukrainian 7.62mm ammunition to Angola in late September 2000, but declared that it was a "fragile" cargo on the official shipping manifest. The deal was reportedly arranged by a Russian broker through a London shipping agent and destined for Simportex.71

On January 11, 1994, a German freighter carrying Russian and Czech weapons was impounded in the British port of Plymouth. In this case, the captain declared that the ship was carrying "agricultural equipment" instead of weapons.72