Human Rights Developments
By November 1994, government offensives had reduced UNITA's territorial control from 60 percent to 40 percent of the country. In October, government units had begun their final push toward Huambo, the UNITA-occupied second city in Angola, forcing UNITA into "strategic retreat." Within a month UNITA had lost most of its significant urban and commercial footholds: Soyo, Huambo, Mbanza Congo, and Uige. Retreating from these towns, UNITA's troops looted extensively and killed a number of civilians. UNITA also forcibly conscripted hundreds of civilians from these urban areas; many are still unaccounted for.
The military gains by the government forced UNITA to concede further in the Lusaka peace talks and accept the proposals on national reconciliation put forward at the talks. In return the U.N. agreed that a new set of international trade sanctions and travel restrictions on UNITA would not be implemented. As its territorial losses quickened, UNITA tried to bargain its promise to sign the Protocol against a government promise not to press further militarily. Although both sides initialed the Lusaka Protocol on October 31, with President dos Santos promising the U.S. and U.N. that government forces would not capture Huambo, government forces continued to push forward. Because UNITA forces had pulled out, the government captured the city quickly.
Despite continuing fighting, both sides finally signed the Lusaka cease-fire protocol on November 20. But significantly, neither leader signed it himself, leaving it to Foreign Minister Venacio de Moura for the government and Secretary General Eugenio Manuvakola for UNITA, thereby suggesting a continuing lack of confidence in the stability of the peace process. Human rights did not feature prominently in the Lusaka Protocol, which advocated impunity under Annex 6, No.1. A general amnesty for "illegal acts" committed prior to a cease-fire was the first issue agreed upon by both sides in the 1993-1994 Lusaka peace talks.
The Lusaka Protocol provides for the re-establishment of the cease-fire; the integration of UNITA generals into the government's own forces (which are to become nonpartisan and civilian controlled); demobilization, under the United Nations Angola Verification Mission (UNAVEM); the repatriation of all mercenaries; the incorporation of UNITA troops into the Angolan National Police (which will come under the Ministry of Home Affairs, but will retain its own organizational structure from the national to local level), and the prohibition of any other police or surveillance organization.
The major political issues covered in the Lusaka Protocol were the U.N.'s mandate, the role of observers, the completion of the electoral process, and national reconciliation. Under the provisions for reconciliation between the parties, UNITA leadership would receive up to eighty-eight private residences, political offices in each province and one central headquarters. UNITA would also hold the government posts of Geology and Mines, Trade, Health, and Hotel and Tourism; the Deputy Minister posts of Defense, Home Affairs, Finance, Agriculture, Public Works, Social Reintegration, and Mass Communication; six ambassadorships; three provincial governorships; seven deputy governorships; thirty municipal and thirty-five deputy municipal administrators; and seventy-five administrators of communes. The government retains all other positions of power and patronage.
The presidential run-off, which was to have been concluded after the September 1992 elections, was set to be held in 1996. In July, however, the National Assembly postponed the elections until the year 2000. A Joint Committee, comprised of the U.N., government, and UNITA representatives, with the U.S., Portugal, and Russia as observers (the Troika), oversees the implementation of the Lusaka protocols.
Despite the Protocol, localized fighting, including targeting of humanitarian agencies, continued throughout 1995. A World Food Programme plane was hit by several bullets in Malanje on December 9, 1994. In March 1995, UNITA fighters shot down a UNAVEM III helicopter in Quibaxe, fired on two ICRC aircraft near Ganda and ambushed an ICRC truck convoy just west of Ganda, on the central plateau. A meeting of military leaders from both sides on January 10, 1995 failed to bring the fighting to an end. Although a second meeting in Waku Kungo in Kwanza Sul on February 2 and 3 made more progress towards consolidating the cease-fire, the U.N. recorded 235 cease-fire violations in March, 110 in July, and 52 in September.
The cease-fire violations occurred mainly in the northern parts of the provinces of Huila, Lunda Norte, Lunda Sul, Malange, Moxico, and Zaire. By September, about 45 percent of these cease-fire violations were attacks on civilians designed either to control the movement of food aid in contested areas or to stop people from moving into areas controlled by the other side. Roads previously cleared of mines had mines laid again overnight, aimed at keeping roads closed and delaying U.N. patrols. Fifteen percent of the incidents were military maneuvers aimed at reinforcing troops or gaining territory. The remaining incidents were termed "minor" by the U.N.
The spirit of the peace process was broken by the importation of new weapons. Although shipments declined in 1995, new specialized weaponry, especially from Russia and the Ukraine, reached the government, albeit on an irregular basis. In early 1995, the majority of the weaponry arriving was the tail-end of 1994 procurement. However, as the year progressed, it was evident that the government was still purchasing new, specialized equipment.
UNITA also increased its cross-border sanction-busting operations, bringing in new weapons and supplies on secret flights from Zaire to airstrips in the diamond-rich Lunda provinces. UNITA appeared determined to maintain its grip on its remaining diamond assets. Localized, and sometimes fierce, fighting continued in the diamond areas throughout 1995. In July, government forces lost 153 soldiers in fighting against UNITA along a small stretch of the Chicapa River. In order to focus its efforts on controlling the Lunda diamond areas, Uige, and the areas north of Huambo, UNITA signaled its intention to abandon its former bush headquarters of Jamba and invited the U.N. to assist in the evacuation of some 40,000 people.
The first meeting between President dos Santos and UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi for two years occurred in Lusaka on May 6, a symbolic step forward in the peace process. Although President dos Santos had been pressed by hard-liners in the military and party not to attend, immense U.N. and U.S. pressure secured his participation. In June, the government offered Savimbi the position of vice-president of the Angolan Republic. In August, following a second summit in Gabon, Savimbi accepted the position on behalf of UNITA, without making it clear whether he would take the post himself. A third meeting between both leaders occurred in Brussels on September 25 and 26 at a Round Table donors conference in which both leaders once again pledged their confidence in peace and reconstruction. The Round Table resulted in pledges and proposals of contributions of US$993 million. This exceeded the $700 million originally requested by Angola.
The reality on the ground remained less positive. The government's ongoing suppression of freedom of the press heightened the feeling of anxiety, fear, and confusion in the country. The killing on January 18 of Ricardo de Mello, the editor-publisher of the semi-independent Luanda-based daily Imparcial Fax, by an unknown assailant with one shot in the chest from an AK-47 with a silencer, had a profound impact on the fledgling press. Imparcial Fax closed, and its other journalists left the country. Many other journalists received warnings about filing critical reports of the government. Human Rights Watch learned that journalists it visited in June also received anonymous warnings. Conditions were the same in the provinces. In Saurimo, Lunda Sul province, several local demonstrations by local pro-separatist groups were studiously ignored by the state media. A local journalist who tried to report on the situation in Lunda Sul was detained for several months by the local authorities. Attempts by the U.N. mission to set up an independent radio station, Radio UNAVEM, were frustrated by government foot-dragging over the allocation of broadcasting frequencies. Freedom of expression was even more tightly controlled in UNITA dominated areas, with no criticism tolerated.
Free circulation of persons and goods, a specific principle of the Lusaka Protocol, continued to be abused by both sides. Dozens of Angolans interviewed by Human Rights Watch in June complained of not being able to move freely to their homes and that soldiers heavily "taxed" them when they traveled.
A disturbing characteristic of the Angolan conflict has been the use of child soldiers. International law forbids the use of children under the age of fifteen as soldiers in armed conflict, but both sides continued to use child combatants. UNITA redeployed some to work as bonded labor in its diamond areas. There are no precise figures on the numbers, but UNICEF estimates suggested thousands.
Street children also suffered abuses in Angola's urban areas. UNICEF estimated that Luanda alone had 4,000 street children. The majority of these were boys, and their daily life was characterized on the streets by illness, forced labor, sexual exploitation, and arbitrary underage military conscription.
Repatriation of prisoners of conflict was slow. In March, both sides provided lists of detainees to the ICRC. In May, the government handed over 208 UNITA prisoners to the ICRC and a further two batches by late August, totaling 230. UNITA released four batches of government prisoners, totaling 230, by September.
Arbitrary detention and assault on suspects by the police remained widespread. Prison conditions across Angola were appalling. The government several times announced that it would improve over-crowded prison conditions, but there was no evidence of this. There were unconfirmed reports of sick inmates being killed by prison warders in Sao Paulo prison inLuanda to clear space for fresh detainees.
The Right to Monitor
The Role of the International Community
The United Nations
Between July 14 and 16, U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali traveled to Angola, visiting both Luanda and UNITA's headquarters in Bailundo in an attempt to get both sides to co-operate more fully in the peace process. On August 7, the U.N. Security Council extended the mandate of UNAVEM III until February 8, 1996.
UNAVEM III established a small sub-unit to deal with human rights issues. E.U. member states temporarily funded five human rights specialists from Denmark, France, and Portugal to staff it. These monitors made little impression on the ground and were not effective in bringing attention to abuses. The U.N. hoped to increase the unit's cadre to eleven so that human rights monitors could be stationed in a majority of the provinces of Angola.
The European Union
The U.S. continued to be Angola's largest trading partner in 1995, purchasing 90 percent of its oil exports. The U.S. also continued to play an important role by providing 30 percent of the U.N.'s running costs in Angola (some US$100 million) and some 50 percent of the costs of relief operations. At a donor conference in Geneva on February 23, the U.S. pledged $106 million. The U.S. also played an important role at the September 25-26 UNDP-assisted Brussels Angola Round Table, pledging $190 million.
In mid-December 1994 and in mid-January 1995, joint USAID/State Department missions visited Angola to review the status of the Lusaka Protocols, and assess what future administration strategy should be.
In January, Paul Hare, President Clinton's special envoy to Angola, visited several provinces. He was mandated to deliver a strong message to both sides that respect for the cease-fire protocol was a precondition for renewed international interest and assistance. According to U.S. officials, Department of Defense and Central Intelligence Agency monitoring of Angola was expanded in 1995, with evidence of Lusaka Protocol violations, especially weapons shipments, sometimes being presented through diplomatic channels to the government or UNITA for explanation and caution.
In early May, following the announcement that President dos Santos would not travel to Lusaka to meet UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi in their scheduled summit, frenetic U.S. diplomatic efforts contributed towards reversing the Angolan government decision to postpone, which turned out to be a watershed in the peace process in 1995. The U.S. threat not to fund the U.N. operation in Angola and curtail assistance unless the meeting happened was effective.
A new U.S. ambassador, Donald Steinberg, formerly senior director of African Affairs at the White House National Security Council, arrived in late July. Steinberg replaced Edmund Dejarnette who had been ambassador since May 1994. During the hearings for his nomination, Steinberg committed himself to pushing for human rights improvements in Angola. In his early months in the post, Steinberg tried to travel widely to familiarize himself with the Angola situation and was noted to take a special, if discreet, interest in human rights issues.
USAID began development assistance to Angola in 1992 but the program was suspended because of fighting. In 1995 the administration's development request was $5 million, aimed at economic projects ($4.2 million) and its Democracy and Governance program ($800,000). One significant project was for the opening of a full-time Luanda office for the Voice of America radio. The project was funded on the grounds that it would promote more journalistic coverage of sensitive issues, such as continued human rights abuses, while providing training facilities and confidence building for Angolan journalists.
The Work of Human Rights Watch/Africa