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The Angolan press has been tightly controlled by law and by government and opposition intimidation. Angola's press laws allow for no private television stations or short-wave radio stations and also prohibits direct rebroadcasting of other broadcasts. During the Lusaka peace process there was a limited opening up of the media, particularly in Luanda. With the return to war, however, these meaningful gains are once again threatened by censorship and intimidation. Attacks against the rights to freedom of expression and association have undermined the defense of other rights. They also delayed peace and reconciliation by obstructing access to accurate information and the airing of different points of view about what was happening in Angola.

During the Lusaka peace process the media, like the NGO community, saw an expansion of freedoms. The media-especially radio-is powerful in Angola and Angolans must be some of the most avid radio program listeners in the world (approximately 80 per cent of the 11 million inhabitants listen to radio) The Lusaka Protocol guaranteed freedom of speech and the press and the government likes to boast about its press freedoms: President dos Santos told Human Rights Watch in December 1995 that in Angola "there is more freedom of the press than anywhere."182 Angolan Minister of Information Pedro Hendrik Vaal Neto said in the International Herald Tribune in June 1995 that, "there are now 40 newspapers, 24 magazines and 18 bulletins and four private radio stations registered in the country. There are also more than 1,000 satellite antennas in the country receiving international broadcasts, including CNN. Views and opinions on the widest range of issues of local and national interest receive coverage," the minister said. He added, "that responsible journalism is essential to the health of a democratic society. The government is aware of the deficiencies in the professional education and training of many Angolan journalists and is actively pursuing measures to rectify the situation."183

During the Lusaka peace process journalists continued to be targeted for repression by the government. In March 1996, Pires Ferreira, the sports editor atthe government-run Jornal de Angola was fired after filing stories in a different newsletter about government abuse of power in his own paper. In June, the news program on government television, "Opinião" was terminated by the government for being too "controversial" after a feature on freedom of expression. Journalists in the provinces were also intimidated. João Borges the correspondent for ANGOP, the Angolan news agency in Bie province, was fired after the governor there, Paulino dos Santos, blamed him for publishing an anonymous letter in a weekly newsletter about the governor's abuses of power. Rafael Marques, a journalist from Jornal de Angola, was banned from his newspaper when he returned from study leave abroad in October 1996 because he had previously organized a strike and had published in Europe a series of articles about the lack of a free press in Angola.184

Several journalists were killed in suspicious circumstances. The best known case was the killing on 18 January, 1995 of Ricardo de Mello, the director of the semi-independent newsletter Imparcial Fax. He was assassinated outside his home in central Luanda by an unidentified gunmen. It was a professional killing: his assailant shot him with one shot through the heart, probably with an AK-47 with a silencer attached to it.

António Casimiro, Cabinda correspondent of Televisão Popular de Angola was murdered at his home on October 30, 1996.185 Dom Paulino Madeka, the bishop of Cabinda, said the killers were police officers led by a civilian; the authorities blamed Cabindan separatists. Two inquiries were opened into the killing but their findings have not been published.

Press Censorship

In 1997, during the swearing in of the government of national unity in April, President José Eduardo dos Santos called for "greater transparency and freedom" in the media. In practice this has not happened. For example, the then governor of Huila province, Kundy Paihama, prevented the sale of the private newspapers Agora, Folha 8, and Comércio Actualidade, all considered critical of the government. The local independent radio station in Lubango, Rádio 2000, was prevented by the authorities in April from retransmitting Voice of America programs, while in November 1997 the governor's office in Malanje province banned all freelance activity by VOA stringer Isaias Soares. Soares had already been suspended from his job as a reporter on the local radio station and docked two months pay before the unexplained further ban. Soares had filed a number ofstories on the radio station critical of the governor's office and its failure to help local communities recover from the war.

The independent Luanda Antena Comércial (LAC) radio station in Luanda in 1996 tried to broadcast a Friday program called "Messages for the Head." The station asked listeners to call in and tell President Dos Santos what they would like to see happen in the county. The government let LAC's management know it was not pleased with the program and it was suspended. The management changed the program's title to, "Complaints Telephone," and on Mondays and Fridays, listeners were encouraged to phone in and air their complaints. The program continues to broadcast, but if the topic is too politically sensitive the caller is often cut off.186 In March 1998 the government also terminated live coverage of National Assembly debates, saying it was too expensive, but also halting the publicity given to parliamentary challenges from the opposition.

The government-controlled media is given "political direction" by a National Media Council made up of ministry officials from the Ministry of Social Communication and the director-generals and editors-in-chief of all the state media. It was created in 1992 "to safeguard press freedom." But it is largely inactive and lacks the power or inclination to take action or make concrete recommendations. José Gomes, vice-president of the council, admitted in public in January 1998 that:

The Council is learning and growing with the work itself. What is needed is to confer it with effective authority, and the council itself needs to reformulate its methods, its follow-up strategy of the media and its performance, so that it corresponds to the challenges which are imposed by the process of democratization, pacification, reconciliation and the development of our country.187

Radio remains the most important medium of communication in Angola. Life in villages both in government and UNITA controlled zones come to a stand-stillwhen important radio broadcasts are made. The key to communicating with the rural population is programming in their vernacular languages.188

The most powerful state-controlled media source is Rádio Nacional de Angola, the only national radio station, with forty-nine stations nationwide.189 The only four privately-owned radio stations are Luanda Antena Comércial (LAC), Rádio Cabinda Comércial, and Rádio Morena, and Rádio 2000 in Lubango. Rádio Morena broadcasts only in Benguela, while LAC broadcasts within Luanda. Although these are technically independent their programs avoid directly criticizing the government. They were set up just before the 1992 elections with discreet financial support from sources within the ruling MPLA in order to assist it during the election campaign.190 The only critical noises in their programs come from people interviewed in the streets. If the population is becoming too critical, they temporarily suspend broadcasting the programs in question.191

Two radio programs that Angolans seemed to trust were the U.N. news bulletins broadcast daily on state radio and Rádio Ecclesia. The Catholic Church resumed the broadcasts of Rádio Ecclesia after it had been handed back by the government in 1997: it been expropriated by the state in 1977. Aristides Neiva, the director of Rádio Ecclesia explained the "clever way" the government tried to limit what his radio station broadcast:

Often the government refuses to talk to us about controversial subjects. If we then broadcast a story without a government comment we can be accused of being biased. It is a clever censorship.192

Fernando Pacheco, director of ADRA explained how important radio was as a tool in building up a culture respecting human rights in Angola despite the difficulties:

Last year [1997] I conducted research that took me to villages in various parts of Angola. I was really surprised to find out how many people listen to the foreign news services every morning. In every village two or three could be found, and not always the most literate. They would listen to the BBC, France International, Voice of America or Antenna Africa from South Africa, which all have broadcasts in Portuguese in the morning. People are hungry for information! They also listen to the Angolan channels, both of the government and UNITA, but they know that their news services are biased, to put it mildly. Radio has always been very popular and often you see people walking in the streets with radios pressed against their ears. In the final analysis I think the quality is often better than in Zimbabwe, which I visited shortly. In Angola you have debates on the radio you won't hear anywhere else, with supporters of government, opponents and all. That has definitely been stimulated by the new commercial stations, of which we have four now including the most important one, LAC in Luanda. Till about nine in the morning you really hear the world news, which you won't find on the other stations. Radio Luanda, though, is a lot better in its speech. Their language is not correct Portuguese but it is the language of the street, which is only better. There really are opportunities to publish, it's just that too many people are too scared. The frontiers are still in the minds of the people. I won't say we are in a paradise of expression, quite the contrary, but the space which is there is not being used fully! This can often be blamed on the bad quality of journalists, though we aren't just faced with the task of building a new society on the ruins of this country, but also with clearing the ruins in the minds of people, a job that is bound to take several decades. Then there is the big problem that most provincial governors are virtual autocrats and that therefore on the provincial level no dissident opinion will get a chance. We should use South Africa as a model and set up a network of small local publications and radio stations. In the capital, space has been created in the media over the past two years, but this should be extended to the provinces. That a new war will perhaps break out is a rather logical consequence of the ignorance and intolerance that prevail in the thinking of large groups of people. Reconciliation has to start in one's mind.193

Other government controlled media outlets include Televisão Popular de Angola (TPA) with four regional stations. ANGOP is the official and only news agency. Jornal de Angola and Correio da Semana, the latter the weekly newspaper, were like LAC set up just before the 1992 elections as part of the same MPLA strategy, although there is some evidence that journalists in both papers tried to reduce their dependency on the government during the Lusaka process. In January 1994 the publishers of the economics magazine, Comércio Externo launched a weekly news magazine, Comércio Actualidade, which is less bland than the original product and has embarked on mild criticism of government corruption. In 1995, the weekly Tempos Novos was launched in addition to two new fax publications, Folha 8, edited by William Tonet and Leopoldo Baio's (one of the old Imparcial Fax editorial team) Actual Fax. A group of journalists called the Media Grupo, some who work on Comércio Actualidade, launched a new weekly newspaper, Agora in 1996. Although Agora's offices in Luanda experienced a suspicious fire in early 1998, its cause is still disputed.194 A Luanda neighborhood monthly paper, Jornal do Rangal, was launched in September 1997; the journalists involved have said they hope to raise social and rights issues through this paper. In 1998 another weekly, Angolense, was launched.195

Folha 8 and Agora have become the leading independent news sheets, with Folha 8 frequently featuring human rights stories; its director, William Tonet, used to be associated with the Angolan Association for Human Rights. The U.S. NGO World Learning in November 1998 met with the editors of Agora and Comércio Actualidade to try to arrange a feature series on rights issues in their papers.196

Angola is slowly joining the Internet. At present the Angolan government197 provides selected stories from the state media to put on embassy web pages and UNITA maintains a web page on which it puts its commiques.198

In 1998 government officials increasingly used a new strategy in dealing with the independent newsletters and papers. Knowing that they were resource hungry, officials encouraged editorial self-censorship and used the incentive of payment forthe publication for pro-government stories as an alternative to open censorship and repression of journalists.

In January 1998 the government's National Media Council held a seminar on pluralism and freedom of information in Angola. Minister of Mass Communication Hendrick Vaal Neto defended his government's policy of imposing restrictions and limitations on Angolan journalism by arguing that:

We have said that the limits should be there because unfortunately many of those who today describe themselves as defenders of the freedom of the press when practicing journalism, do nothing but invade what is the most sacred treasure in human beings, privacy, or seek to question the principles which shape our society.199

UNITA and the Media

UNITA tolerated little press freedom during the Lusaka peace process and the transformation of its radio station, VORGAN (Voice of the Resistance of the Black Cockerel), into a nonpartisan station showed little progress, despite this being a requirement of the Lusaka Protocol and the demands of countless demarches and Security Council Resolutions. Despite repeated promises by UNITA officials, the radio station continued to broadcast hostile propaganda and inflammatory public announcements inciting hatred, and violence. VORGAN was by agreement to have been transformed into a commercial radio station, Rádio Despertar. In December 1997 the U.N. Special Representative Beye met with the management team that was to set up the station, who claimed their efforts to transform the station were hindered by difficulties in finding a premises and the acquisition of the necessary equipment. VORGAN did finally go off the air in 1998, and although UNITA warned several times that it would return as the peace process crumbled VORGAN remained off the air until December 1998, when it was reported to be back on the air.200

Government Harassment of UNITA's Journalists

Journalists who had worked for UNITA's radio also faced government harassment. For example, Augusto Salupula, a journalist from VORGAN, was stopped in May 1998 from traveling to Luanda from Huambo by police, who said they had orders not to let him travel out of the province. UNITA also tried to getits irregularly published party paper, Terra Angolana more widely disseminated in Angola during the peace process. UNITA shipped 2,000 copies of the paper through Luanda airport in late 1997 (it is printed in Lisbon), but they mysteriously disappeared at the airport. Young vendors that tried to sell the paper were reportedly intimidated and threatened.201

Government Media Crackdown in 1999

With the return to war, the space that opened up for the independent media and foreign journalists based in Angola is being eroded away again. In November 1998, the Union of Angolan Journalists warned that "Angolan society is under the thrall of what we might term a `conspiracy of silence'." On January 11, two Angolan journalists from Rádio Morena in Benguela, station director José Manuel Alberto and administrator José Cabral Sande, were picked up at around 7:00 a.m. by Angolan Intelligence Information Officers. The arrests came soon after the station had rebroadcast a news program from RTP (Rádio Televisão Portuguesa), featuring UNITA Secretary General Paulo Lukambo Gato, who said the rebels had taken control of Vila Nova in Huambo province.

The two were held at a local police station by order of the army general staff for "disobedience" and "offenses against the state." The two journalists appeared in court on January 12, but the judge said he had no power to hold them as the papers provided by the police were not in order. They were freed conditionally. While they remain free at the time of writing journalists at Rádio Morena say they will worry more about what they report in the future.202 On January 25, José Cabral Fande, director of Rádio Morena was detained by police officers and accused of having broadcast reports on UNITA, but released forty-eight hours later, further to the judge's decision that the accusations were unfounded.203

Rádio Ecclesia, which broadcasts the Africa program of the Portuguese radio station Renascença, has also been targeted and forbidden to broadcast on three separate occasions: On January 13, 1999, when a report was to be broadcast concerning fighting between government forces and UNITA; on January 18, before the broadcast of an interview with UNITA's secretary-general; and, on January 26, just as the radio station was preparing to interview Carlos Morgado, UNITA's foreign representative in Lisbon. On January 22 the radio station's director was alsothreatened with deportation by the government after he had broadcast a report on fighting in the country.204

The moves against Rádio Morena and Ecclesia are part of a wider crackdown. When the Portuguese journalists Ivone Ferreira and Ana Gloria Lucas filed a story in the Lisbon daily, Diário de Noticias, about Cuban troops in Angola,205 the Angolan authorities responded two days later. Ivone Ferreira left Angola under threat, while the authorities refused Ana Gloria Lucas an entry visa.206 The assistant editor of Diário de Noticias, António Ribeiro Ferreira, when asked about the measures, said Ivone Ferreira had left Luanda, "precisely because she and another journalist received repeated threats and warnings, death threats in fact...They received threats, and especially of late they received serious threats that their personal safety was in danger, from people in positions of great responsibility at Futungo de Belas [official residence of the Angolan president]."207

These Portuguese journalists are not the only foreign correspondents that appear to have been intimidated for giving too high a profile to a controversial story. The Media Institute of Southern Africa reports that "Portuguese correspondents have complained that their telephone lines were systematically cut while they were transmitting their reports to their media concerning the current conflict."208

The BBC World Service correspondent in Luanda, Lara Pawson, has received several anonymous phone calls warning her to cut her coverage of the five UNITA parliamentarians in government detention.209 She said she was warned that she would lose her license if she continued to cover their case and was questioned by a stranger about this coverage.210

The government issued a formal warning on January 21 when Minister for Social Communication (Information) Pedro Hendrik Vaal Neto issued a statement to the independent media.211 The minister warned that licenses to publish and broadcast would be revoked if the independent media continued to cover stories about young people not wanting to be conscripted into the armed forces. He said this reporting broke the law, as conscription was legally mandatory.

The crackdown on the independent media has continued. A military prosecutor brought charges against three journalists at Folha 8 on February 4, and on April 6 Folha 8 director William Tonet was interrogated for several hours at the Criminal Investigation Department (DNIC) of the Angolan police in connection with the charges.212

According to Tonet, the military prosecutor has made several accusations against his newspaper, although formal charges have not been brought before a court. He has himself been accused of violating military secrets, defamation and slander. Tonet has denied these accusations.213

Two other Folha 8 journalists, Pascoal Mukuna and Rafael Marques, were also questioned by the DNIC on April 19, with Marques questioned on his article for Folha 8, entitled "Cannon Flesh," and his sources. They were under accusation of defamation and slander. The case is reportedly to be submitted to the Attorney General's office to determine whether criminal charges are to be brought.214

Father Aristides Neiva of Rádio Ecclesia resigned from his post in late May due to what he described as pressure from the Catholic church for him to cutback his reporting on the war. It appears that his superiors had come under government pressure to remove him. Father Neiva tendered his resignation in April and left his post in June after a successor had been trained. Gustavo Costa, who writes for the Portuguese newspaper Expresso was also informed in April by the presidency that charges were to be brought against him for writing about corruption within the cabinet.

On April 28 Josefa Lamberga, a reporter with the Luanda bureau of the Voice of America (VOA) was assaulted by a soldier while attempting to report on draft evasion by Angolan citizens. After being denied entry into a military recruitingcenter in Luanda, Lamberga returned to her vehicle but was prevented from driving away by an unidentified soldier who ordered her out of the vehicle. The soldier reportedly reprimanded her for reports in the local media and on VOA that quoted or aired the viewpoints of draftees who claimed that white or mulatto citizens use wealth and political connections to avoid military service. The corporal struck Lamberga twice in the face.215

On May 13 BBC and Reuters journalist Lara Pawson was manhandled by a number of men when she left a bar in Luanda, who warned her about filing reports critical of the government.216 The following day, two men claiming to police, insisted on searching the home of Herculano Bumba of Portuguese radio TSF "for weapons," although they carried no warrant.

During the same period freelance journalist Machado Irmão, who regularly contributed to the independent weekly Actual, was attacked and beaten up by people wearing police uniforms and driving a police truck. Irmão was apprehended by his attackers while driving with a friend, who also witnessed the attack. Irmão went into hiding for two weeks after the attack, as he had been warned to "keep his mouth shut" by the attackers. Irmão claims that the attackers told him that he was one of the journalists writing bad stories about the government.217

On August 9, Filippe Joaquim, Laurinda Tavares and Paulo Julião were detained by police after their radio station, Rádio Ecclesia, rebroadcast parts of an interview of the leader of UNITA, Jonas Savimbi from the BBC's Portuguese service. The police confiscated a compact disk containing the news broadcast which carried the interview and the three journalists were questioned at length over why they broadcast the interview. Staff at Rádio Ecclesia shut down the station until their fellow journalists were released.218 However, on August 10 after Ecclesia broadcast more of the Savimbi interview the police staged a second raid on the radio station and arrested its director Father Antonio Jaka, editor-in-chief Paulo Juliao, and journalist Emanuel Mata. The search warrent for the raid said the Savimbi interview contained "dangerous information" and was "an incitement to collective disobedience."219 After eight hours of questioning the three men were released. A BBC correspondent in Angola, Reginaldo Silva, was also questioned by police and accused of providing the Savimbi interview to Radio Ecclesia and tothe state-owned television, TPA. On August 10 TPA information director Nelson Rosa and their news editor were also summoned for questioning by the criminal police after they had permitted excerpts of the Savimbi interview to be broadcast on television on August 9.220

The minister of information, Pedro Hendrik Vaal Neto, told state-run radio on June 1 that recent news reports insulted the government and discouraged young people from joining the army. "You have to be a nationalist to be a journalist," Vaal Neto said, adding he would take "unspecified measures" to curb reporting.221 Vaal Neto defended this interview in a reply to a letter from the Committee to Protect Journalists. He said, "What we have done, and that was what took place during my recent interview referenced in your letter, is merely to remind the bad, less competent and insidious journalists that they should carry out their profession with respect and within the parameters established by law."222 When asked about the state of the media in Angola, Speaker of the National Assembly Roberto de Almeida said:

We have plenty of independent papers that can write freely. But we are at war and some papers were writing stories that were demoralizing our soldiers. So we have to stop that, there have to be some sacrifices in war.223

181 For a more detailed discussion see, "Angola: Between War and Peace," A Human Rights Watch Report, February 1996, vol.8, no.1 (A), pp.21-26; Rafael Marques, "Angola: Rewards for the unworthy," Index on Censorship, vol. 25, no.5, September/October 1996, pp.181-186.

182 President dos Santos reply to Human Rights Watch question, Center for Strategic and International Studies Seminar, Washington D.C., December 8, 1995.

183 International Herald Tribune (New York), June 16, 1995.

184 Human Rights Watch interview with Rafael Marques, Luanda, August 1998.

185 Afonso Justino Waco, "Quem Matou O Jornalista António Casimiro?," unpublished manuscript, dated May 1999.

186 Human Rights Watch confirmed this in Luanda on August 22, 1998 when listening to "Complaints Telephone," who complained about the burning down of property belonging to suspected UNITA supporters.

187 Post (Lusaka), February 13, 1999.

188 Walter Viegas of Development Workshop argued this strongly in his presentation, "Making communities speak," NiZA-Seminar: Freedom of Expression in Southern Africa, Amsterdam, October 16, 1998.

189 In Huambo and Benguela provinces for example the state-owned radio stations have been allowed to broadcast programs made by ADRA and the Red Cross.

190 Ibid.

191 Bob van der Winden, "Angola: Media for millionaires," in NiZA (ed.), Freedom is a Bomb That Explodes in Your Head: Mission Report on Freedom of Expression in Southern Africa, Netherlands Institute for Southern Africa - Cahier no.3, 1998.

192 Interview with Aristides Neiva, Luanda, August 27, 1998.

193 Cited in Bob van der Winden, "Angola: Media for millionaires," p.53.

194 Its editor Aguiar des Santos claimed that this was an act of state intimidation. Interview with Aguiar dos Santos, Luanda, 21 August 1998. Other people associated with the paper told Human Rights Watch that this was the result of a financial dispute.

195 After a period in which publication was suspended, Angolense's management announced in February 1999 that it would resume publication.

196 Communication from Fern Teodaro, World Learning, Luanda, November 6, 1998.



199 Post (Lusaka), February 13, 1998.

200 BBC monitoring at Caversham had no record of renewed broadcasts, although the Portuguese media claimed it had resumed broadcasting.

201 Human Rights Watch interviews with street vendors, Luanda, August 1998.

202 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Rádio Morena, February 2, 1999.

203 Media Institute of Southern Africa, "Alert - censorship and threats against journalists," February 24, 1999.

204 Human Rights Watch phone interview with Rádio Ecclesia staff member, March 2, 1999.

205 Diário de Noticias (Lisbon), January 19, 1999.

206 Minister of Social Communication Hendrik Vaal Neto himself reportedly went on January 20 to the Anibal de Melo press center to determine the whereabouts of Ivone Ferreira and then went to the Hotel Tivoli, her hotel, looking for her, eventually finding she had left the country prior to publication of the article. See, Público (Lisbon), January 21, 1999.

207 RDP Antena 1 radio, Lisbon, in Portuguese 0001 gmt, January 21, 1999.

208 Media Institute of Southern Africa, "Alert - censorship and threats against journalists," February 24, 1999.

209 Her predecessor, Anna Richardson, also complained of having her phone lines being deliberately cut on numerous occasions in 1998 when she tried to file stories back to London or Johannesburg. Human Rights Watch interview, July 2, 1999.

210 Telephone interview with Lara Pawson, Luanda, February 4, 1999.

211 Human Rights Watch has a copy of direction 01/MCS/99, faxed on January 21, 1999 to Rádio Ecclesia, LAC, Folha 8, Angolense, Comércio Actualidade, RTP Africa.

212 "Editor interrogated, military brings charges against journalist,", April 19, 1999.

213 MISA Angola, Boletim Informativo, no.0, April 1999.

214 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Rafael Marques, Luanda, April 20, 1999.

215 "Angola Alert," MISA, April 30, 1999,

216 Human Rights Watch interview with Lara Pawson, London, June 16, 1999.

217 MISA Chronology of Angolan Press Incidents, July 7, 1999.

218 Reuters, August 10, 1999.

219 AP, August 10, 1999.

220 Lusa (Macao), August 10, 1999.

221 Reporters sans frontièrs, "Letter to Minister Vaal Neto," Paris, June 8, 1999; AP, June 2, 1999.

222 Letter received by CPJ from Minister of Social Communications, Pedro Hendrik Vaal Neto, written in Luanda on June 23, 1999.

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

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