A small number of Angolan organizations provide legal counsel and other types of assistance to victims of forced evictions in Luanda. This report builds on their work and seeks to contribute to their larger efforts to promote and protect the rights of all Angolans to adequate housing, including the right to be free from forced eviction.
The research on which this report is based was carried out jointly by Human Rights Watch and SOS Habitat, an Angolan nongovernmental organization (NGO) working since 2002 with communities affected by forced eviction, demolition, and destruction of crops in peri-urban areas around Luanda. SOS Habitat facilitated access to evictees and opened its files to Human Rights Watch, which included copies of relevant documents provided by affected families, situation memos, photos, and other data collected immediately after eviction operations. SOS Habitat staff who witnessed forced evictions also provided their accounts of these events. Free Hands Association (Associacao Maos Livres), an Angolan organization that provides legal aid to victims of human rights violations, also facilitated access to several evictees from one neighborhood.
Human Rights Watch and SOS Habitat carried out field research in Luanda in April, July, August, and December 2006. Researchers visited 14 eviction sites and three relocation areas. Six of these sites (Cambamba I, Cambamba II, Soba Kopassa, Bairro da Cidadania, Benfica, and Wengi Maka) experienced demolitions repeatedly during the period covered by this research. Human Rights Watch researchers interviewed a total of 132 persons who had been evicted between 2002 and 2006. All interviews were conducted in Portuguese. The names of victims and of some witnesses have been changed to protect their identities.
We also held meetings with the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Office in Angola, Development Workshop Canada, Oxfam, and local organizations, such as Free Hands Association, Association for Justice, Peace and Democracy (Associacao Justica, Paz e Democracia, AJPD), Land Network (Rede Terra), and Association for the Rural Development of Angola (Associacao para Desenvolvimento Rural de Angola, ADRA).
Human Rights Watch met the Angolan ambassador to Belgium and the minister for urban planning and environment in Luanda. We formally requested meetings with the minister for public works, Luandas provincial governor, the director for technical affairs within the provincial government and the administrator of the municipality of Kilamba Kiaxi. They all confirmed receipt of our requests but did not respond with meetings. We did not receive a reply to our request to meet with the director of the Urban Development Company Ltd. (Empresa de Desenvolvimento Urbano Lda., EDURB), the company that has a government concession to develop and upgrade large areas in the southern part of Luanda (where some of the informal housing areas researched in this report are located).1 Human Rights Watch did not obtain full information by the time this report went to print regarding the exact perimeter of the area under development by EDURB and whether the neighborhoods we researched are located within that perimeter. We plan to pursue such information with the company in the future.
1 EDURB is a partnership between Luandas provincial government and a private company established to manage an urban development pilot project called Luanda Sul. Luanda Sul is aimed at developing infrastructure for organized urbanization of a large area in the south of Luanda, allowing for an orderly urban growth. Official website of Luandas provincial government, http://www.gpl.gv.ao/index.aspx?shownews=6992293473&flag=empreendimentos (accessed March 26, 2007).