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Arbitrary Killings

In 1998 a pattern developed of heavy-handed action by government forces in areas that were recently restored to state administration. Although some of this abuse was committed by poorly and irregularly paid rogue elements of the security forces, a number of attacks appeared to have been carried out under superior orders. The government failed to take any effective action to punish abuses, especially in areas that had newly come under their control. Senior officials of the government told the Joint Commission (the peace monitoring body set up under the Lusaka Protocol) that their security forces were incapable of conducting counterinsurgency operations without committing human rights abuses.136

The government's security forces often behaved like an occupying army in areas of the country that previously had been under UNITA control. UNITA alleged that its party officials and structures were expelled from 212 of the 272 sites that it allowed to revert to state administration. Although UNITA unilaterally abandoned a number of these sites, sometimes in advance of attacks on government positions, UNITA party structures were harassed and driven out of approximately thirty localities. UNITA provided Human Rights Watch with a dossier of names of people it alleged had been killed, tortured, or "disappeared" at the hands of government officials between April 1997 and June 1998.137 According to this dossier 263 UNITA officials or supporters were killed by the government and 633 officials or supporters were tortured or imprisoned in this period. Human Rights Watch was unable to corroborate any of the cases in the dossier. However, our own field investigations confirmed that UNITA officials were killed out of combat, tortured, abducted, or harassed across the country in 1998.

Three UNITA members were shot and killed in Ndalatando on August 27 after being abducted during the night by men in FAA uniforms.138 The FAA in Lombe detained UNITA secretary Jaime Zefimo and his wife on August 7; he was never seen again although FAA officials said he had "escaped." He is thought to have been killed.

On July 26 in the Luanda neighborhood of Kampão, masked policemen took several young men from their homes. The police shot and killed five of the men. The others were taken away in a government truck and executed at a later time,according to local sources.139 In July the government allegedly killed ten former UNITA soldiers who had been inducted into the FAA in their Luanda barracks.140

There are credible reports that some suspected UNITA sympathizers were executed during forced recruitment campaigns during the year.141 A UNITA municipal secretary and over twelve other UNITA officials were reportedly executed publicly in April. According to local sources on April 21 in Albuquerque, ANP officers tortured to death a UNITA member accused of keeping illegal weapons. On the same day, military personnel killed a pregnant woman and her son in Kafifi Kimbu. On April 27, the UNITA provincial secretary in Xa-Cassau was detained, tortured, and killed. Police officers detained and beat to death a UNITA supporter in Ussoque on April 3 on suspicion of keeping illegal arms. Police officers shot and killed a civilian on May 21 in Mbaya and tortured to death a demobilized UNITA soldier in Quimbele on May 27. A policeman stabbed to death a demobilized UNITA soldier in Negage on June 7. Police officers killed the UNITA communal secretary of Quibaxe on June 9. Police officers tortured and killed a UNITA member in Ngola Luigi on March 2. The police killed the local UNITA secretary of Cangundu on March 9. None of the above reported incidents were investigated by the government, nor was action taken against the persons alleged responsible.142

Human Rights Watch investigated in depth one particular incident at Kikolo, Luanda, where police claimed they were conducting a "normal" police operation against bandits in an area where many UNITA sympathizers lived. According to police four people were killed in an operation against criminals: but Human Rights Watch confirmed that at least seven deaths and a number of "disappearances" had occurred in an operation targeting UNITA sympathizers.143 André Mpassi explained that:

At around four in the morning outside my house two police vehicles stopped. The banged on my door and that of my neighbor João, a UNITA sympathizer, and asked my name. I told them I was André Mpassi, and they said they were looking for me.

They said I and Mutombo André were the nucleus [leaders] around here. I said I knew Mutombo André but we had never formed any nucleus. I said I had worked with Mutombo in 1992 but I was no longer with UNITA. They asked me about my private life and I replied that these days I had dedicated my self to religion. I was working with Pastor Aleluia.

After these questions we were put in the vehicles where we went to Bairro Compão where they killed seven people on their list in my presence. João and I were then taken to Cacuaco where we were beaten and interrogated about where Mutombo works, and who were his relatives.

The head of those holding us told us that in 1992 they killed innocent people, but this time they were careful targeting the most dangerous. We want to finish with them, because in the provinces they are causing us problems. I was then told to write a declaration saying that I used to work for UNITA but no longer and that I must gather information for them on how UNITA operates.

On July 28 at three p.m. three police, came to my house and asked me for a CV to be given to them on July 29, but not at my house, at the Catholic Church at 1600.144

Mutombo André is fifty years old and a resident of Kikolo. He is also a UNITA supporter. He told Human Rights Watch that:

Around five a.m. two cars with the police came to my house looking for me. I was not there but my son Francisco João André was, also known as Mutombo André. They then took him away, saying to those witnessing it that, "the son of a snake is also a snake." I have not seen him since and worry about his safety. The next day the police cameback early in the morning looking for me. They didn't find me, so they smashed the doors and burnt my house down. I've been in hiding ever since.145

Assault and Harassment of UNITA Supporters

A Human Rights Watch researcher was also a witness on August 20, 1998 to the assault of a young man by a FAA soldier and Angola National Police (ANP) officer who claimed he was a UNITA spy. This incident occurred near Caxito in a camp for internally displaced from Piri. A crowd of people had developed and people were calling for the man to be killed. The FAA soldier was boasting that he had caught the man, who he called a UNITA spy. When Human Rights Watch attempted to get access to the detained man, who could be heard being beaten inside the building, we were refused access and our researcher was threatened with death at gun point by the policeman, who cocked his AK-47 ready to fire. Our researcher and an Angolan NGO colleague then withdrew for their own safety and returned several hours later to the same place, only to find that the man had been taken away to an undisclosed location. The fate of this man has never been established.

From September 2, when Jorge Valentim and other UNITA members who had served in the government of national unity announced a split with Savimbi, UNITA officials came under additional harassment. After Valentim launched in Luanda a party called the Renovation Committee of UNITA the government stated that it would only negotiate with this "new" UNITA and urged others to do the same. The state media was also required to refer only to UNITA- Renovada, while Savimbi's UNITA was to be identified in reports as `Armed bandits' or the `forces of the criminal Savimbi.'

In the run-up to the launch of UNITA-Renovada a number of senior UNITA officials and deputies received death threats they attributed to the government. On the night of Renovada's launch a well-armed contingent of police first surrounded and took over UNITA's headquarters in São Paulo, Luanda on the night of September 2, preventing UNITA officials and their deputies from entering the building the next day. The highest ranking UNITA officials in Luanda at the time, Deputy Secretary General Martires Correia Victor, and Marcolino Nhany, the secretary for organization, were refused entry and found their homes targeted by government police later in the day.146

The police warned that they would "take measures against those who did not belong to the renewal committee." Police raided a number of homes, seized cars and deactivated the cellular phones of a number of UNITA officials.

UNITA's representative to the Joint Commission, Isaias Samakuva, began to receive anonymous death threats in late August and was also advised by friends in the Angolan government that he had to leave the country. He suspected something was brewing and left the country on September 1. He told Human Rights Watch:

I decided to use my own way to leave the country and was helped through the airport so that the authorities could not stop me, as a colleague had been told that his papers were not valid for travel a few days before. I knew the government was planning a new UNITA and I was under pressure to join this, although until it was announced I did not know who exactly was involved. That's why I ended up here in Paris. My life was no longer safe in Luanda unless I joined Renovada.147

On October 12, UNITA deputy Joaquim Paulo Somakesenje was arrested at 5 a.m. at his hotel in Luanda by police who claimed they were investigating the shooting incident in which UNITA deputy Abel Chivukuvuku's car had several shots fired at it on October 2. On October 7 police had arrested another UNITA deputy, Sabino Sakutala, in connection with the shooting. Both men were later released, but were warned not to comment about their detention.

Arrests After the Resumption of All-Out War

On January 9, 1999 two UNITA deputies, Carlos Alberto Calitas and Daniel José Domingos were arrested by police. This was followed on January 13 when three more, João Vicente Vihemba, Manuel Savihemba, and Carlos Tiago Candanda were also picked up.

They were arrested with no major display of force, and with an official "mandato de captura" (warrant) signed in accordance with the law. Although the deputies have been allowed to see family members, access to their lawyer was limited. On February 2, 1999 the National Assembly lifted the deputies' immunity and they were told they were being held under the provisions in the penal code for those who pose a threat to state security.148 Police superintendent Francisco Pestana said there was "suspicious signs of complicity in terrorist attacks againstdefenseless people in the townships of Kuito, Huambo and Malanje, under the command of the criminal, Jonas Savimbi."149

Human Rights Watch is monitoring this trial, which appears to be following a special procedure not established by law. A Supreme Court judge is reportedly involved in the investigative stage of this proceeding, normally the Police's criminal investigation bureau is involved.

Human Rights Watch is also concerned about the health of four of the deputies. Vihemba, Candanda, Carlitas, and Savihemba reportedly all have medical conditions that need treatment; and have worsened due to poor prison conditions. On June 28 the wife of Daniel José Domingos appealed to the press for assistance for her husband, who she claimed was "seriously ill and without assistance might die."150 Vihemba reportedly suffers from a prostate problem that has deteriorated so that he can no longer urinate without internal pain. He is reportedly in need of an operation but this could only be done outside Angola.

The case of the five UNITA deputies has dragged on. On May 21 Manuel Savihemba was released, but the other four remain in detention. Speaker of the National Assembly Roberto de Almeida justified their detention by saying they are in "preventive detention" and that Angolan law they could be held for an initial period of ninety days followed by an additional 180 to provide time for a case to be brought against them. If a trial does not begin they would be free in July.151 But in August they were still in detention. In May the charge against them was changed from "high treason" to "rebellion," and the case was referred to the criminal court which is presided over by Gabriel Lundungo.152 On June 18 Attorney General Domingos Culolo announced that the four may soon stand trial.153 To date no evidence has yet been produced to justify their continued detention.

The lawyer of the five deputies, Dr André Milton Kilandamko, has also been harassed by the Security Police for talking to Radio France International on February 4.

Human Rights Watch interviewed a number of deputies and workers from Angola's opposition parties apart from UNITA who described government interference. Eduardo Kuangana president of the Social Renovation Party (PRS), reported that his activities and that of his party were closely monitored by the authorities because he had his own independent funding base and a strong regionalconstituency in the Lunda provinces. The PRS is strong in the Lundas and benefits from supporters with links to diamond mining. He told Human Rights Watch that his delegate was forced to close the party office in Uige, while his delegate in Malanje, João Daniel, was detained on July 23, 1998 for trying to recruit supporters. He said that in Moxico the government ordered his representative beaten in March. Local authorities in Huambo confiscated all his party's manifestos and party flags when they tried to hold a rally there in March 1998.154

The PRS, PLD, and FNLA walked out of the National Assembly with UNITA's deputies on March 26, 1998 in protest at the cutting of live television and radio broadcasts of parliamentary debates. Soon afterwards the deputies of these parties began to be harassed by government officials in the context of a campaign of stories critical of them in the independent media which they blame the government for. Mfulumpinga Nlandu Víctor, the president of PDP-ANA, who had in 1991-1992 been close to UNITA, also reported that his members came under immense government pressure in May not to support UNITA's protest. "One has to be careful," he told Human Rights Watch.155

The government of Luanda on July 12 turned down an application from opposition parties not represented in parliament to stage a demonstration against the war on July 13.156

Forced Recruitment

Between June and August 1998, the government conscripted males aged fifteen to thirty-four for combat. Extra soldiers were sent to remote areas and unemployed teenagers rounded up and sent for military training. Human Rights Watch interviewed eyewitnesses and people who had been grabbed for conscription during this period in Luena, Luanda, Huambo, Kuito, and Negage. Mid-to-late July was the period of greatest intensity.

On July 11 according to local sources fifty young men were picked up at Rocha Pinto by police, who lined up those that looked too young on the left and loaded the others, apart from those who paid a bribe to be exempted, into two lorries. On July 10-12 , Asa Branca, Roque, Escuanza, Golf, and Palanca were also targeted for roundups.

JZ, a street trader in Luanda, described the grabbing of young men there in July.

This was a difficult period for me. I couldn't do business because of rusgas [conscription]. They were targeting young men and putting them in trucks and then taking them to the airport and flying them to other provinces so they couldn't escape. I saw some ten rusgas in July; some of my friends were grabbed. Escuanza was very bad, especially by the market. They would appear quickly and grab you - you had to watch out. They don't do it in town, because people will complain. They want those who have no voice.157

This was the same pattern in Huambo and Luena. At a training camp in Bié province several recruits were reportedly beaten in July and told they would be shot if they tried to escape.158 Also in July, students, some as young as fourteen, were rounded up outside their school in Caxito, Bengo province for recruitment. A number were reportedly released after paying bribes.159

The pattern of forced recruitment indicated a policy of preying on poor communities and unemployed young men. Those who could prove that they had jobs usually were released, and those with financial means could buy their way out of the military. Such recruitment drives were carried out in contravention of the law of military service. The military and police issued a joint statement in the national newspaper Jornal de Angola denying that there had ever been any conscription drive, and said the 1998 roundups were mass arrests of petty criminals.160

In November 1998 parliament approved a resolution for the registration of young men approaching military age, and in January 1999 the government started a campaign of mass conscription. The government-run media carried an official statement that: "All Angolan men born between 1 January 1979 and 31 December 1981 must register at municipal military posts from 18 January to 26 February."161 Men in this age group had already been warned not to leave Angola. The statement said noncompliance with registration would be punished under Angolan law, with all those in the age group specified without a registration slip facing immediate arrest for dodging the draft.162 From April 14 to April 30 the Angolan ArmedForces began to formally enlist new draftees for the first time since 1991.163 On April 24, four youngsters were reportedly shot dead by an army noncommissioned officer on April 23 for refusing to be conscripted. The victims had reportedly tried to run away from the barracks where they were scheduled to begin military training. A military source described the officer Gaspar Francisco as "overzealous."164

U.N. officials complained in May 1999 that a faltering conscription drive inside Angola, with only a 20 percent success rate, had resulted in the Angolan authorities to press-ganging refugees into their war effort. Angolan forces also reportedly crossed the border into the Democratic Republic of Congo and rounded up for military service some of the thousands of Angolans who fled there to seek shelter. In southwestern Congo they reportedly press-ganged refugees around Matadi and Songololo.165 In July for several days National Police backed by soldiers entered a number of Luanda's wards, indiscriminately hunting youths for conscription in a manner that contravened the Military Service Law which provides for the registration and drafting of recruits.166

Violations of the Laws of War

There have been a steady number of reports received by Human Rights Watch of government troops violating the laws of war. For example, government aircraft bombed UNITA-held towns in late 1998 and 1999, which resulted in civilian casualties, although Human Rights Watch has been unable to confirm whether they were indiscriminate. The government admitted its forces had been indiscriminate in their aerial bombing of Mbanza Congo in February 1999.167 Prisoners have also not been treated with respect. On December 16, 1998 prisoners were reportedly paraded through Kuito in army vehicles as bystanders called on soldiers to cut their throats. Parading prisoners constitutes humiliating and degrading treatment under Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions. The ICRC's attempts to gain access to new prisoners in this conflict had by July 1999 shown little progress. Negotiations continue.168

Government troops have reportedly executed civilians that stayed behind after UNITA ended its occupation of Mbanza Congo. In February 1999 after the government retook the city from UNITA, government forces were reportedly responsible for the killing of several civilians who had stayed behind. In one case a man without legs was reportedly shot a number times for "failing to run away" when UNITA withdrew.169


The government's inability or unwillingness to pay the majority of its army and police personnel resulted in widespread extortion and theft. Government personnel frequently confiscated food, including donated relief supplies, livestock, and personal property, often after forcibly depopulating areas and robbing the displaced persons. The villages of Luaquisse, Saifula, and Tchiongo were reportedly razed on June 4 and 5, 1998 by police from Mutumbo and Mumbue in Bie province.170 A UNITA report also mentioned attacks by government troops on June 13 on villages on the right bank of the Chissolonga river, Bie province, during which women were raped and houses pillaged and crops burned.171

Human Rights Watch interviewed some of the people who had fled fighting from Piri in Cuanza Norte province who described being victimized by UNITA and government forces in turn. Venâncio Simão described two attacks by UNITA on June 14 and 16 after the local police had tried to disarm them. The government's military then responded. He said:

UNITA's elements caused us worry, but we really had to leave when the military went in. They looted all our possessions. They even took the roofs away and they caused lots of confusion. We will only go back when they and UNITA leave us alone.172

Human Rights Watch interviewed a number of soldiers who had operated in Piri against UNITA. JB, a captain in the FAA, had been a part of the operations in Piri:

We don't get paid. I haven't been able to go home for seven years. We loot. It's the only way we live. We have no choice but we have limits.The problems of Piri were not us. The worst was the unit of commandos sent in there. Those guys are fed and paid and they looted and raped. I don't know why they did that - we have good reasons to do that - no pay and empty stomachs - but they claim they are professionals. They are a shame to us all.173

Relief efforts in Kuito after UNITA's siege was lifted were hampered by looting when the aid workers withdrew: government troops looted the World Food Program warehouses and the warehouses of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and Handicap International. The looters carted away filing cabinets from the offices of Medecins Sans Frontieres containing health data.174 The U.S. charity CARE's warehouse was also looted in this three-day looting frenzy by government troops in mid-December with only the metal frames of the canvas structures left. CARE has reported that twenty-five cars and motorcycles and seven four-wheel-drive vehicles were stripped for spare parts, while government troops looted agricultural and carpentry tool kits; seeds, building materials, wheelbarrows, and medical equipment; the furnishings of CARE's Menongue office, that was stored in Kuito; and 200 tons of food. The soldiers opened fire on civilians who tried to join in the looting, who then looted a number of NGO residences.175

Of CARE's three Caspirs, South African-made anti-landmine vehicles, each worth $200,000, one was vandalized on the spot, another lies in a ditch on the road to the battlefront and the third was used to round up Kuito's youth for conscription into the army. While cruising through town it crashed into a four-wheel-drive vehicle the military had confiscated from Handicap International - four people died. This Caspir was returned to CARE by the FAA in January, which blamed UNITA for its theft.

Human Rights Watch has also interviewed an eyewitness who described the stripping of crops from fields by government troops near Uige city in March 1999, and a man who said he was shot in the legs for not immediately offering his possessions to hungry soldiers.176

Government Propaganda and Human Rights Abuses

In July and August the government media reported a spate of human rights abuses which it blamed on UNITA while greatly exaggerating the numberskilled.177 The state media also constantly reported UNITA troop movements and incidents involving UNITA and printed pictures of aggressive UNITA troops armed to the teeth.

The most dramatic incident the government media held to involve UNITA was at Mina Bula, Lunda Norte province, where at least 105 persons were killed in an attack on July 21. MONUA confirmed that the attack took place but said it had insufficient evidence to assign responsibility, although survivors interviewed by state-run media said that the attackers were UNITA members and that they had killed 250 people. The state-media also reported falsely that MONUA had concluded that UNITA was responsible.178 Many of the victims were Congolese migrant workers who came to the country to work in the diamond fields. Human Rights Watch interviewed a number of people who were in the area at the time of the massacre and also concluded from these accounts that there was insufficient evidence to assign responsibility. But the Angolan government also named July 28 as a National Day of Struggle "perpetrated by the illegal forces of UNITA" in memory of the Mina Bula massacre at which all flags needed to be flown at half mast. 179

This was followed by a report in Jornal de Angola on August 7 that UNITA had killed 150 in Cambo Sungingu. Investigations of this incident revealed that UNITA troops had in fact attacked in FAA uniforms in the early hours of the morning, killing eight ANP officers and nine FAA soldiers before the FAA forces withdrew. UNITA then killed six mulattos or white traders; Isidrio Jesus Leitão, Candida Leitão, and Luis Rocha inside a house and Fernando da Silva Morais and Agostinho Bernardo Afonso outside. There were twenty-three dead in the incident, rather than the government's figure of 150 dead.

A further massacre was reported on August 11 at Kunda-dya-Base, in which the government claimed UNITA was again responsible for 150 dead. In fact this was the same incident as Cambo Sungingu reported on August 7, but provided the reader with the impression of a further massacre.180

The government has persisted in its strategy of manipulating the reporting of UNITA human rights abuses, even as those abuses have been of a severity needingno exaggeration to merit concern and outrage. For example when the C-130 U.N. aircraft was shot down on January 2, 1999 the government claimed that UNITA was holding hostage seven survivors. When the U.N. search team reached the crash site later, however, it concluded that all the passengers and crew had been killed in the crash. Both the government and UNITA had also been unhelpful in assisting a rescue effort reach the wreckage. Whoever was responsible for shooting down the aircraft attempted to cover the crashed wreckage of both planes with foliage, and had taken the cockpit voice and flight data recorders away in an effort to make it difficult to determine who shot down the plane.

136 Diplomatic sources, Luanda, August 1998.

137 "Protocolo de Lusaka: Extensão da Adminstração do Estado Abril 1997-Junho 1998. Balanço."

138 Human Rights Watch interview with eyewitness, Luanda, August 31, 1998.

139 Human Rights Watch interviews with eyewitnesses, Luanda, August 26, 1998.

140 Human Rights Watch interviews, Luanda, August 26, 1998.

141 Following examples obtained through interviews in Luanda, August 22-27, 1998.

142 A government investigation into the 1997 death of ten UNITA members in police custody in Malanje on November 11, 1997 concluded no one was at fault. The inquiry, headed by an Inspector General of the Ministry of Interior, was held in early December 1997. It was not independent and in this and other ways did not conform to minimum international standards for such investigations. The report claimed the ten men died as a result of a fight in the cell in which they were held. The report failed to give essential details on the conditions of the cell, the circumstances of death, or even injuries sustained or causes of death.

143 Agora (Luanda), August 1, 1998.

144 Human Rights Watch interview, August 27, 1998.

145 Ibid.

146 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with UNITA deputies, Luanda, September 1998.

147 Human Rights Watch interview, Paris, October 31, 1998.

148 Rádio Nacional de Angola, Luanda, in Portuguese, 1720 gmt, February 2, 1999.

149 Angop news agency, January 14, 1999.

150 Público (Lisbon), June 29, 1999.

151 Roberto de Almeida to British-Angola Forum, London, May 20, 1999.

152 Folha 8 (Luanda), May 22, 1999.

153 Lusa (Macão), June 18, 1999.

154 Human Rights Watch interview, Luanda, August 27, 1998.

155 Human Rights Watch interview, Luanda, August 29, 1998.

156 This was according to clause no.3 of article 4 of Law No.16 of May 11, 1991 according to Angolan Television, 1930 gmt, July 12, 1999.

157 Human Rights Watch interview, Luanda, August 27, 1998.

158 Folha 8 (Luanda), July 24, 1998.

159 Human Rights Watch interview, Caxito, August 1998.

160 Jornal de Angola (Luanda), August 1, 1998.

161 Jornal de Angola (Luanda), January 16, 1999. The registration exercise was extended to March 13, 1999 on February 25.

162 The government hoped to recruit 28,000 young men by this draft. Economist (London), April 24, 1999.

163 Lusa (Macão), April 14, 1999.

164 Lusa (Macão), April 24, 1999. The victims were Francisco António, Amadeu José, Pereira Santos, and Costa Pedroso.

165 Reuters, May 21, 1999.

166 Luanda sources and Agora (Luanda), July 12, 1999.

167 Público (Lisbon), February 13, 1999.

168 "Update No.99/03 on ICRC activities in Angola," June 22, 1999.

169 Information provided by Lara Pawson, June 16, 1999.

170 Human Rights Watch interview, Luanda, August 25, 1998.

171 Human Rights Watch interview with UNITA, Luanda, August 27, 1998.

172 Human Rights Watch interview, Caxito, August 20, 1998.

173 Ibid.

174 Guardian (London), February 25, 1999.

175 Weekly Mail & Guardian (Johannesburg), February 26, 1999.

176 Human Rights Watch interview, London, April 12, 1999.

177 Good examples of this are Jornal de Angola (Luanda), May 17; July 25; July 26; August 11, 1998.

178 Jornal de Angola (Luanda), July 25, 1998; MONUA "Special Report on the Attack on Mina Bula in Luremo Commune (Lunda Norte) on 21 July 1998."

179 By nos 1 and 3 of Article 114 of the Constitution. See, Jornal de Angola (Luanda), July 28, 1998.

180 Jornal de Angola, (Luanda), August 11, 1998.

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