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BEFORE THE AFRICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN & PEOPLES’
FLEC (Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda)
The Republic of Angola
SUBMISSION ON THE MERITS
For the Complainant-FLEC:
Dr. Jonathan Levy, PhD
International Criminal Bar/ Barreau Pénal No. 100465
Attorney for Complainant-FLEC
37 Royal Pointe Dr.
Hilton Head Island, SC USA 29926
Tel/Fax 001 202-318-2406
Economic self determination has been maligned as a “poor cousin” to
political self determination. Yet in Africa especially, this is not the situation.
The old struggle against imperialism and colonialism has been superseded
by neocolonialism and post colonialism. The wealth and resources of Africa
still enrich powerful outside interests while the people of Africa languish.
The protectorate of Cabinda was born of the European scramble for
colonies, today the oil of Cabinda drives the economies of Europe and North
America, enriches the shareholders of Chevron, and makes it possible for the
government of Angola to maintain itself. The majority of Cabindans are
impoverished and unemployed. Cabinda is a metaphor for Africa and
Cabinda’s economic self determination matters to all who oppose injustice.
1. Communication 328/2006 concerns itself with economic self
determination in the territory of Cabinda and in particular the disposition and
exploitation of onshore oil, mineral, and natural resources.
2. This submission on the merits makes the case that the Commission
should find cause to grant FLEC’s request and appoint a Special Rapporteur
on the issue of Cabinda’s economic self determination and the disposition of
3. FLEC contends that neutral fact finding is urgently needed as the
situation within Cabinda remains unstable and volatile as set forth in the
update to the facts infra.
4. The Complainant alleges that the Respondent State has violated the
applicable Articles 14, 19, 20, 21, 22 and 24 of the African Charter in
regards to its administration of the natural resources patrimony of Cabinda:
5. Article 14
“The right to property shall be guaranteed. It may only be encroached upon
in the interest of public need or in the general interest of the community and
in accordance with the provisions of appropriate laws.”
6. Article 19
All peoples shall be equal; they shall enjoy the same respect and shall have
the same rights. Nothing shall justify the domination of a people by another.
7. Article 20
1. All peoples shall have the right to existence. They shall have the
unquestionable and inalienable right to self- determination. They shall freely
determine their political status and shall pursue their economic and social
development according to the policy they have freely chosen.
2. Colonized or oppressed peoples shall have the right to free themselves
from the bonds of domination by resorting to any means recognized by the
3. All peoples shall have the right to the assistance of the States parties to the
present Charter in their liberation struggle against foreign domination, be it
political, economic or cultural.
8. Article 21
1. All peoples shall freely dispose of their wealth and natural resources. This
right shall be exercised in the exclusive interest of the people. In no case
shall a people be deprived of it.
2. In case of spoliation the dispossessed people shall have the right to the
lawful recovery of its property as well as to an adequate compensation.
3. The free disposal of wealth and natural resources shall be exercised
without prejudice to the obligation of promoting international economic
cooperation based on mutual respect, equitable exchange and the principles
of international law.
4. States parties to the present Charter shall individually and collectively
exercise the right to free disposal of their wealth and natural resources with a
view to strengthening African unity and solidarity.
5. States parties to the present Charter shall undertake to eliminate all forms
of foreign economic exploitation particularly that practiced by international
monopolies so as to enable their peoples to fully benefit from the advantages
derived from their national
9. Article 22
1. All peoples shall have the right to their economic, social and cultural
development with due regard to their freedom and identity and in the equal
enjoyment of the common heritage of mankind.
2. States shall have the duty, individually or collectively, to ensure the
exercise of the right to duty, individually or collectively, to ensure the
exercise of the right to development.
10. Article 24
All peoples shall have the right to a general satisfactory environment
favorable to their development.
11. FLEC does not seek a finding on the issue of political self determination
and confines itself to the issues of economic self determination, communal
property rights, and development.
12. FLEC requests the appointment of a Special Rapporteur for Cabinda to
investigate and make findings on the above issues. Thus the Commission
(a) Appoint a Special Rapporteur to investigate the matter of economic self
determination in Cabinda and makes recommendations after consulting with
all involved parties including the people of Cabinda, FLEC, the Government
of Angola, civil society, multinational corporations, the Roman Catholic
Church, NGOs and IGOs.
(b) Make the Good Offices of the Commission available in resolving this
matter in an amicable way.
SUBMMISSION ON THE MERITS
13. On 29 September 2006, the Secretariat of the African Commission on
Human and Peoples‟ Rights (the Secretariat) received a Complaint from
Front for the Liberation of the State of Cabinda – FLEC.
14. On August 15, 2007, the Complainant amended/supplemented their
facts and submitted a brief on admissibility.
15. Additional supplementary information and correspondence has also
been submitted during the pendency of this proceeding.
16. At the 10
Extra-Ordinary Session of the Commission, this
Communication was found to be admissible.
B. Supplemental Information and Clarifications
17. The Complainant is FLEC, the Front for the Liberation of the State of
Cabinda with members and functionaries in Cabinda, Pointe Noire, Republic
of the Congo, and France. FLEC is a member of the UNPO (Unrepresented
Nations & Peoples Organization) and OEAS (Organization of Emerging
FLEC’s chief officers are Afonso Massago (President),
Stephane Barros (General Secretary), and Dr. Joel Batila (Chancellor).
18. FLEC considers itself to be the historic and accepted representative of
the people of Cabinda who are the real parties in interest. In Cabinda it is
widely held that: “Todo o Cabinda é FLEC” – all Cabindans are FLEC.”
FLEC is banned from participation in the Angolan “democracy” because it
advocates self determination.
19. In preparation of this submission, the Complainant has consulted and/or
solicited information from ordinary Cabindans, Cabindans affiliated with
non FLEC organizations, non government organizations, international
government organizations, the media, representatives of the Catholic
Church, the international community and representatives of the oil and
mining industries. All of the above have expressed support for neutral fact
finding by the ACHPR.
Also referred to recently as FLEK, Front for the Liberation of the State of Kabinda.
20. The Complainant has also provided information on this pending matter
to the African Union Secretariat, UN agencies, the International Criminal
Court, NGOs and various sovereign states.
21. The respondent state Angola has not discussed this matter with FLEC,
directly or indirectly. Likewise the respondent state has not participated in
C. Supplemental Information Regarding Onshore Resources.
22. This Complaint excludes the matter of offshore resource allocation from
its initial Communication although FLEC has no objection to the
Commission broadening the scope of any enquiry. The offshore resources
regime differs materially from the onshore regime in that the extraction of
petroleum products is ongoing and dates from at least 1954 while Cabinda
was a colonial protectorate of Portugal.
23. Onshore resource extraction is largely dormant or in the exploratory
stage owing large part due to the opposition of FLEC forces which prevent
or restrict operations.
24. FLEC does not recognize grants of resource licenses or concessions by
Angola and reserves the right to make its own arrangements with resource
companies to vest upon decolonization of Cabinda.
25. FLEC has on numerous occasions provided notice to foreign contractors
that their safety cannot be assured in the onshore conflict.
26. As a result of the conflict over resources, since 2006, FLEC and the
Angolan Armed Forces (FAA) have clashed numerous times in the past year
in northern Cabinda with FAA incursions into the Republic of the Congo
including murder and kidnapping of FLEC officers.
C. The January 8, 2010 Incident
27. On January 8, 2010, members of the Togolese football team on en route
to the Africa Cup in Cabinda were killed and wounded just inside the
28. FLEC and Angola differ over the responsibility for the incident. A
January 8 Commission Report authorized by the then FLEC Secretary
General Dr. Joel Batila found that FLEC forces did not carry out the attack
and raised serious questions about involvement by Angola. Angola holds
FLEC responsible. Attached as EXHIBIT ONE.
29. In December 2011, the French government released from custody the
self confessed mastermind of the attacks apparently because his claims were
FLEC also reached the same conclusion. A French inquiry
30. The position of FLEC is that the January 8 incident was a provocation by
an element of the Angolan government to classify FLEC as a terrorist
organization. FLEC has called for an international investigation. Angola
has used the incident to justify summary executions, torture, and kidnapping
of alleged FLEC members and non FLEC civil opposition inside Cabinda
and the Congo.
D. The Corruption and Murder of FLEC Officials
31. Subsequent to the January 8 incident, Angola incongruently welcomed
the defection of several high ranking FLEC officials, the same officials who
logically would have been responsible for the attacks. These included the
Vice President of Cabinda’s civil administration, FLEC’s military
commander, and Cabinda’s Minister of Security. None of these individuals
were arrested or charged with terrorism by the Angola government.
32. Following the defection, at least six FLEC military commanders were
assassinated in 2010-2011 at or near Pointe Noire, Congo or inside Cabinda
including FLEC Chief of Staff, Comandante Sabata.
33. Angola further has arrested or issued warrants for at least 23 Cabindans
abroad that logically and factually could have had nothing to with the
January 8 incident including the leadership of FLEC and former members of
Mpalabanda. Several individuals on this list have been murdered or have
E. Current Situation
34. The Angolan national oil company has announced that in 2013
commercial extraction of oil will commence in southern Cabinda,
“Argentina's Pluspetrol, Sonangol, Force Petroleum and Cuba's state-owned
Cupet plan to begin production at the onshore Castanha block in Cabinda in
2012. This will be the first time there has been commercial production of
” It has long been speculated that onshore Cabinda’s oil
reserves may rival offshore reserves. If true, the onshore reserves may be
one of the largest untapped sources of oil in Africa.
35. FLEC contends that the current hostilities and corruption are
symptomatic of an official policy of Angola to foster confusion within FLEC
in order to prevent disruption of the anticipated onshore oil extraction. By
deliberately creating chaos in Cabinda, Angola justifies its military
occupation and may sweep aside any criticism by Cabindans of its resources
36. The Angolan government has instituted a policy of paying off
opportunists who “defect” in exchange for cash. This in turn creates a
situation where violence is actually encouraged and pay offs made to armed
pressure groupsare made rather than a comprehensive economic solution
implemented – a so called “Niger Delta syndrome.”
37. As a result of increased violence, Cabindans will see increased
repression and the security situation will deteriorate for ordinary citizens in
F. The Political Position of FLEC
38. FLEC is a legitimate representative of the Cabindans and has been
recognized as such since at least 1974. See EXHIBIT TWO. The Angolan
MPLA tacitly recognizes this fact, by entering into piecemeal negotiations
and pay offs with renegade FLEC commanders and politicians who trade on
the name FLEC for personal profit. The sham 2006 Cabinda Peace Accord
was also premised on FLEC’s standing even though FLEC did not
participate and repudiated the agreement.
39. FLEC’s stance is that the political fate of Cabinda can only be decided
by the people of Cabinda in an internationally supervised referendum. The
only acceptable negotiated settlement is one that results in a democratic
election to legitimize the successor status to the Portuguese protectorate.
FLEC’s position is that it represents the party of total independence for
Cabinda and does not support autonomy or federal union with Angola.
Independence is the reason for the existence for the Front for the Liberation
of the State of Cabinda.
G. Current Analysis of Human Rights
40. The deplorable human rights situation is intertwined with issue of
resources in Cabinda. Cabinda recommends the report by Human Rights
Watch to the Commission as an accurate reflection of the current situation.
Attached as EXHIBIT THREE.
H. Violations of African Charter Article 14
41. FLEC contends that the natural resources of Cabinda must be
administered largely for the benefit of the people of Cabinda. Cabinda is an
exclave of no strategic or military value to Angola however it is estimated to
provide at least half of Angola’s oil revenues. There is an economic
incentive for Angola to prevent any devolvement of Cabinda from Angola.
42. While a state can certainly grant resource rights in the name of its
people, it is less settled if such grants are legitimate in the case of one people
dominating another or a grant being made or administered in an
irresponsible manner. For example the African Union and United Nations
have supported the claims of the Saharawi people to the resources of
Western Sahara even though the occupying power, Morocco, has been able
to exploit these resources with foreign partners. It is desirable that when a
conflict of this type arises over stewardship of economic resources that an
understanding be reached before the resources are depleted.
43. Cabindans maintain that they are a separate people with a historical
legacy tied to the Congo and Portugal rather than the modern state of
Angola. The cornerstone of this claim is the 1885 Treaty of Simulambuco
which created a Portuguese colonial protectorate over Cabinda, the so called
Portuguese Congo. The Cabindans have always maintained a separate
identity reinforced by the geography of Cabinda which is non-contiguous to
Angola. Linguistically, Cabindans speak their own language and many speak
French due to being surrounded by Francophone countries. The Cabindans
were never consulted regarding the unilateral termination of the Portuguese
colonial protectorate and have never ratified the Angolan occupation. Since
1974, FLEC has continuously maintained a civil government inside portions
of Cabinda, primarily in non urban areas. The FLEC zone of control has
changed in configuration since 1974 on several occasions. Many of the areas
of resource extraction are in or near the FLEC zone.
44. The hasty and ill prepared exit by the Portuguese from Cabinda has
contributed to the deaths of tens of thousands. The OAU, Zaire, and Gabon
all at one time or another recognized the aspirations of the Cabindan people;
these hopes were dashed by the 1974 Alvor Conference which awarded the
Cabinda protectorate to Angola. Regardless of the political expedience, as a
separate people Cabindans do not consider themselves Angolans and
consider the Angolan government to be a temporary occupier until such time
the status of Cabinda is decided by referendum. Cabindans who serve the
Angolan regime are known by the derisive term “Cabingolas.”
I. Violations of African Charter Article 19
45. FLEC contends that the revenues from onshore resource extraction will
flow to Luanda just as offshore revenues do now. The sham 2006 “ Cabinda
peace accord” with Bento Bembe allegedly promised a 50% return of oil
revenues to Cabinda, this promise has not been realized or audited. Only a
small percent, perhaps 10%, or less will return to Cabinda. FLEC bases this
estimate on the current allocations of offshore revenues. It is unclear if this
10% also includes the FAA budget which does not benefit the Cabindan
people. Any attempts to question this allocation has resulted in summary
imprisonment as in the case of Global Witness investigatory Sarah Wykes
who was arrested by Angolan police and charged with espionage after
meeting with local representatives of civil society in Cabinda.
46. Despite the presence of offshore oil in abundance, unemployment in
Cabinda is very high. Poverty, infant mortality and disease are also higher
than most areas of Angola proper.
47. Cabinda’s dependable offshore oil revenue has subsidized the
government of Angola and amounts to 50% of its oil revenue; onshore
revenues should therefore be reserved for the people of Cabinda.
48. An unequal return to Cabinda of revenue streams from both onshore and
offshore oil revenues is predatory neocolonialism. The Angolan
administration of Cabinda can be deemed predatory in that it has little
concern for providing public goods and incentives to facilitate investment in
welfare-enhancing improvements for the population at large. The Angola
government abuses its political power to maximize natural resource revenues
in order to increase its own wealth and that of its MPLA supporters,
resulting in corruption and economic collapse in Cabinda.
J. Violations of African Charter Article 20
49. The Cabindans are a geographically, politically, linguistically and
culturally distinct people from the Angolans. The only link between Cabinda
and Angola were acts by the former colonial power Portugal which
conjoined the administrations of Angola and the colonial protectorate of
Cabinda beginning in 1954 and without legitimate authority ceded Cabinda
to the Republic of Angola at the Alvor Conference. Angola has since
attempted to assimilate Cabinda without success.
50. The Cabindans have the right to social and economic development.
They are currently unable to exercise this right because organizations that
espouse a uniquely Cabindan point of view such as FLEC and Mpalabanda
(Cabinda Civil Society) have been banned by the Angolan government.
51. Cabindans who campaign for economic self determination are routinely
arrested as FLEC sympathizers. Foreigners who have identified economic
corruption in Cabinda have been jailed.
K. Violations of African Charter Article 21
52. On shore oil and mineral rights offerings have been made by the
Angolan government without input from the Cabindans. All decisions and
awards of contracts and licenses are made from Luanda. Licensing fees and
royalties are paid in return to Luanda.
53. All management of Cabindan onshore resources are managed from
Luanda or by foreign corporations.
54. The Cabindan people and their representatives such as FLEC have not
been adequately consulted about the management of their onshore resources.
55. Oil and mineral exploration activities are carried out under security
arrangements with the FAA. Cabindans are systematically removed from the
proximity of drilling projects.
56. FLEC disputes legally the right of Angola to dispose of and exploit
onshore resources and considers such activities to be spoliation redressable
by legal means against both Angola and its licensees in courts of competent
jurisdiction outside Angola.
L. Violations of African Charter Article 22
57. The people of Cabinda are a distinct people with a right to economic
and social development.
58. The current policy of the government of Angola is one of Angolization
of Cabinda. Individuals and groups that claim a Cabindan identity are
systematically discriminated against and/or arrested.
M. Violations of African Charter Article 24
59. The current environment is not conducive to the development of
Cabinda. FLEC does not seek an ideal environment only one that permits
some measure of equity for the people of Cabinda. The current regime
permits corporations like Chevron to degrade the environment without fear
of civil monitoring or redress by the people of Cabinda as explained below.
N. The Chevron Example
60. Chevron subsidiary Cabinda Gulf Oil (CABGOC) has been active in
Cabinda since the days of the Portuguese colonial protectorate in 1954.
While those operations are not the subject of this Complaint, they are
relevant because they offer an indication of past and current economic
practices in Cabinda that violate the African Charter section invoked above.
61. Chevron offers in its official corporate responsibilities report some
examples of its largesse to the Cabindan people. These projects however are
miniscule in comparison to the oil and gas extracted from the offshore wells
and does little to mitigate the wrongs visited upon the Cabindan people since
the Portuguese betrayal of the protectorate ion 1974.
62. The government of Angola stations approximately 40,000 troops and
additional gendarmes in Cabinda to secure the resource rich territory and its
revenues. Chevron has paid billions of dollars to government of Angola
which in turn perpetuates this occupation and the attendant human rights
violations. FLEC receives no oil revenues and has no external sponsors of
63. Chevron’s oil exploration and production activities—including seismic
tests, drilling, offshore disposal of drill cuttings and produced water,
fracturing and water flooding activities, pipeline leaks, accidental oil spills,
and use of chemicals such as dispersant devastate human and environmental
health. Similar or worse environmental degradation can be expected from
onshore activities under the control of Angola, not necessarily because oil
companies will not comply with environmental rules but because Angola has
little or no interest in sacrificing production revenues at the expense of the
environment in Cabinda. The lack of civil society, FLEC and Mpalabanda
in Cabinda prevents effective monitoring of oil company activities. The state
of repression in Cabinda also makes it difficult, futile, or impossible for
ordinary Cabindans to press compensation claims against Chevron or other
64. Chevron has shifted many nonoperational jobs to Luanda crippling the
development of the local economy. The Chevron compound at Malongo has
private security and all the comforts of Western society for the lucky
expatriates and Cabindans who live there but just outside Malongo,
Cabindans lack basic services such as clean water, indoor plumbing and
electricity. See “Chevron in Angola” extracted from the True Costs of
Chevron 2009 & 2010 Alternative Annual Reports, EXHIBIT FOUR also
O. The Protectorate
65. In 1885 Portugal and local rulers of Cabinda signed the Treaty of
Simulambuco establishing a colonial protectorate over the region. The
circumstances of Portuguese administration are very well documented.
Cabinda was administered separately from Angola and never was considered
part of Angola. Portugal unilaterally violated the protectorate by transferring
Cabinda to Angola at the Alvor Conference. Until such time as an
internationally recognized and supervised referendum is held in Cabinda,
66. Angola must be considered under international law to be a constructive
trustee of the protectorate of Cabinda for the people of Cabinda. The
Portuguese transferred Cabinda to Angola without consulting the Cabindans.
Angola stands in the shoes of Portugal even though their title to Cabinda is
illegitimate. Nonetheless, the role of trustee must be imputed to Angola.
Angola therefore may not abuse its duty to preserve and protect the
resources of Cabinda for benefit of the Cabindan people.
67. Amnesty International released a statement forcefully condemning the
ban on Mpalabanda, stating, “Amnesty International considers
[Mpalabanda’s] members to be human rights defenders... Its closure will
leave Cabinda, an area rife with egregious violations of human rights,
without a human rights organisation to monitor and record violations of
human rights.” See EXHIBIT FIVE.
Q. Retaliation by Angola
68. FLEC is considered to be a terrorist organization by the government of
Angola. Cabindans risk their life and liberty by being publicly associated
with FLEC. FLEC is aware that many Cabindans desire to give their input
on the issues discussed herein but cannot do so for fear of retaliation.
Further, FLEC will not endanger Cabindans by providing their testimony
herein even when it has been freely offered.
69. Under the Portuguese colonial protectorate of Cabinda, the self
determination of Cabinda was not realized yet the colonialism of the
Portuguese was beneficent in comparison to the human rights violations and
corruption of Angola. Cabinda is a small entity in both population and
geography yet of vast economic importance due to oil. The economic
disparities describe supra are attributed by FLEC to neocolonialism by
Angola. Cabinda unlike other provinces of Angola has a singular political
existence as a colonial protectorate. Such colonial protectorates have often
gone on to achieve statehood as in the case of Swaziland, the Gambia, and
Botswana. Angola absent the freely given consent of the people of Cabinda
cannot abrogate the protectorate status which was unilaterally abandoned by
Portugal and de facto assumed by Angola. Until such time as Cabindans
ratify the Angolan annexation, the Angolan government is the constructive
trustee for Cabinda but not its legitimate ruler.
70. The relief requested by FLEC does not require a specific finding of fault
by the Commission against Angola. FLEC instead desires the Commission
take the proactive stance of neutral fact finding by a Special Rapporteur.
FLEC’s reasoning is as follows:
1. A quasi judicial finding will have little effect on Angola which will
ignore any perceived criticism. This in turn erodes the value of the finding
and the prestige of the African Charter process and ultimately the
Commission. The precedential value likewise is limited.
2. Appointment of a Special Rapporteur is a more inclusive remdy. This
process permits input from other segments of Cabinda society besides FLEC
that are unable or unwilling to risk retaliation from the MPLA and
government of Angola by being associated with FLEC.
3. The rights described herein and violations herein fall within the type
taken up in The Social and Economic Rights Action Center and the Center
for Economic and Social Rights / Nigeria (155/96) and are therefore suitable
for action by the Commission.
R. Request to call Witnesses
71. If the Commission believes it would be helpful, the leadership of FLEC
would make itself available for examination and request the Commission to
guarantee their safe passage, secure travel and accommodations.
S. Request for Relief
1. Appointment of a Special Rapporteur to find facts and make
recommendations on the matters discussed herein.
2. The availability of the good offices of the Commission if deemed useful
to assist in the matters discussed herein.
3. Legal fees and costs in the amount of US$50,000 to be paid by the
government of Angola to FLEC’s legal representative.
4. Such other relief or findings as required by the Commission.
Respectfully submitted this 15fr day of February 2012:
Dr. Jonathan Levy
Legal Representative for Complainant
Page 1 of 9
Republic of Kabinda
January 8, 2010 Committee Report
on the Togolese Incident
By order of Premier Joel Batila of the Republic of Kabinda, the January 8
Commission was formed to investigate the January 8, 2010 fatal attack on the
Togolese football team en route to Cabinda from the Congo by bus.
The members of the Commission are:
Committee Member - Gabriel Homem: Republique du Kabinda, Minister of
Committee Member - Barrister Clement Chigbo – Republique du Kabinda Special
Committee Chair – Dr. Jonathan Levy, Attorney for Republique du Kabinda and
Scope of Investigation: Events leading up to, during, and following the events of
January 8, 2010.
Question to be answered:
1. How did the events of January 8, 2010 transpire?
2. Who was responsible for the fatal outcome?
3. Why did elements of FLEC initially assume responsibility and then change
4. Actions by Angola and FLEC after January 8.
Page 2 of 9
5. Findings & Recommendations
Who is FLEC
FLEC is the Front for the Liberation of the State of Cabinda. There is only one
Many individuals and groups including Angolan agents have used the name
FLEC as part of their disinformation campaign.
An ongoing disinformation campaign traced to the Angolan government claims
FLEC is weak and divided. This has not been the case. FLEC is strong and
unified and has cells and youth brigades in every city, town and village in
The press has been deceived by false front virtual FLECs and impersonators
visible on the Internet but unknown inside Cabinda. Of these Angolan dupes,
“Commandante” Lopes, Rodrigues Mingas and Rui Gabirro also known as
“Mangovo Ngoya” stand out as the worst offenders.
“Commandante” Lopes does not command anything other than a long stagnant
website - cabinda.org. It is alleged that Lopes has been involved in immigration
and asylum fraud in France by issuing so called Cabinda identity cards of his
own devising and manufacture. His website serves to deceive the public and
“squats” upon the legitimate rights of FLEC to that Internet domain.
“The Rt Hon Mangovo Ngoyo Mwana Kabinda, so called, “Secretary for Foreign
Affairs of the Republic of Cabinda and Member of the Regency of Cabinda,” is
Rui Gabirro, a Portuguese citizen, son of Portuguese colonialists. Gabirro also
styles himself by the delusional title “Duke of Cabinda” and has set up a fantasy
operation called the Federation of Free African States, a fraudulent so called
bank and a fake university.
His Federal Republic of Cabinda “government” includes Rodrigues Mingas.
Gabirro also sells passports, coins and stamps that are the lawful property of
FLEC. Gabirro also infiltrated anti MPLA Angolan youth groups earlier this year
and interjected himself as their spokesman following the Mingas example.
Several anti Santos were then arrested in Luanda.
Unfortunately, Lopes and Gabirro have cyber squatted on the two top level
domains, Cabinda.org and Cabinda.net discrediting the cause of FLEC in the
eyes of the press and public.
FLEC is a stable organization with bases of operations in France and in the
vicinity of Pointe Noire, Congo. FLEC is universally acclaimed within Cabinda as
Page 3 of 9
the only credible force for self determination. FLEC has self defense forces, cells,
and youth brigades throughout Cabinda.
FLEC and the struggle for Cabindan self determination has been the most
sustained and long standing African self determination movement since 1963
and against all odds has fended off oil company mercenaries, Cubans,
Portuguese, South Africans, MPLA, FNLN, and UNITA forces. Now FLEC
stresses non violent conflict resolution and has a pending case with the African
Union Commission regarding onshore oil and mineral resources. FLEC and
Republic of Kabinda leadership does not want to see Cabinda turned into a
bloody battleground as occurred during the Angolan civil war between UNITA
and the MPLA.
Even though FLEC has the ability to call for general strike and rebellion, it has
deliberately refrained from doing so in order to spare the civilian population which
barely survives under the Angolan neocolonial regime. FLEC’s current emphasis
is on conflict resolution through international organizations, international law,
refugee relief and education. FLEC is not a terrorist organization and condemns
terrorism including the events of January 8.
Events leading up to January 8
The build up to the African Cup Tournament was given little attention by FLEC.
The testimony of Congolese Colonel Cosmas Nzaou indicates that unknown
operatives at the Congo-Cabinda border crossing distributed leaflets prior to the
January 8, 2010 warning of attacks. FLEC however was unaware of this and the
Colonel indicates that the source of the leaflets may have been the Angolan
secret police rather than FLEC.
Africa Cup officials also warned all groups about using the border crossings yet
the Togolese team bus nonetheless was routed through the border crossing by
the Angolan authorities directly into an ambush.
While FLEC does operate along the northern Congolese border, FLEC
commandos usually stay clear of the heavily fortified border crossing. Clashes
between FLEC and the FAA (Angolan Army) have taken place in remote regions
of Cabinda during the past five years and not at heavily garrisoned towns in part
to avoid civilian causalities. Almost all operations by FLEC since 2006 have
targeted neocolonial activities involving resource extraction by the MPLA and its
foreign contractors. Such incidents have been short and not sustained.
Debriefing of FLEC leadership indicates there was no campaign to target the
African Cup and that any leafleting campaign was not originated by FLEC. FLEC
operations typically target MPLA FAA forces outside civilian areas. Aside from
targeting the FAA, FLEC has also disrupted mineral and petroleum exploration
after giving notice that such operations were illegal and would not be tolerated.
Page 4 of 9
The Events of January 8, 2010
African Cup organizers claim that participants were warned not to enter Cabinda
by land crossings however but the existence of an Angolan FAA escort indicates
the bus was coordinated and known to the FAA.
The village of Tchikamba is an open area in the midst of FAA garrisons. A FAA
mortar position is nearby. It is an extremely unlikely place for a FLEC operation.
According to eyewitness accounts as the bus entered it was ambushed by armed
men. A fire fight ensued with the FAA escort and the bus passengers suffered
casualties before the attackers withdrew.
After the attack there was apparently no effective FAA pursuit despite the alleged
warnings distributed previously and apparent high state of alert existing in the
It is undisputed that some well prepared armed group attacked the convoy which
consisted of several military vehicles, the team bus, and outriders. At least three
people were killed and eight were wounded.
Aftermath of January 8
Within hours of the attack a relatively unknown individual, Rodrigues Mingas,
took responsibility for the attack. Mingas in numerous well coordinated phone
calls to the international press from a cell phone registered in France claimed to
head something called FLEC Position Military or FLEC-PM. Mingas gave phone
interviews and for a time placed material on the Internet including his own picture
in a military uniform. The press by and large accepted Mingas as a legitimate
representative of FLEC.
There is no evidence, anecdotal or otherwise, that Mingas’ organization existed
prior to the events of January 8 though Mingas claimed FLEC PM had been
founded in 2003. Mingas had in fact been barred for several years from FLEC
due to the MPLA association of his family in Angola. It is inconceivable that
Mingas operating from France or even more implausibly from Angola on his own
could have recruited and trained a military cadre in one of the most militarized
sectors of Cabinda.
Mingas claimed the attack was incidental in that “his forces” had no idea the bus
was carrying the Togolese team and had thought this was a FAA convoy.
Page 5 of 9
Mingas gave the impression his group was patrolling the border region, saw a
convoy in their binoculars and decided to attack it on the spot. Mingas then
threatened further attacks during the Africa Cup Games.
Mingas said his group had written two month prior to the attack to Issa Hayatou,
the head of the CAF African Football Federation, to warn of impending trouble.
There is no confirmation such a letter ever existed.
FLEC PM was also unknown to former General Boma of the FLEC armed forces
as well as the Commander of the Northern Front, Sabata, later betrayed and
murdered at the hands of the Angolan FAA. Mingas and FLEC PM were also
unknown to FLEC leadership abroad. Mingas however claimed to be the
Secretary General of FLEC in his communiqués. Nothing more has ever been
heard of FLEC PM.
In January 2011 Mingas was arrested by French authorities on suspicion of
terrorism, he was however released on January 18, 2012 after apparently being
cleared of charges despite his public admissions. The French government came
to the conclusion that is was factually impossible for Mingas to commit the acts
he confessed to doing. Mingas has now been adjudged a poseur.
Strange & Confused Claims by FLEC
On January 10, 2011, former General Boma of FLEC announced an attitude of
non violence during the remainder of the African Cup. He did not however clarify
responsibility for the events of January 8 nor denounce Mingas.
Following on the heels of Mingas’ provocation to the press, the grandson of the
Chair made completely unauthorized statements to the press on behalf of FLEC.
He stated that FLEC not Mingas was responsible for the attack. On or about
January 12, 2011in a statement to the international press, Jean Claude Nzita
denounced Mingas as an opportunist and claimed responsibility for the attack on
behalf of FLEC.
Jean Claude Nzita was not an official of FLEC and was not authorized to make
statements on FLEC’s behalf. His sole connection to FLEC was his familial
relation to FLEC’s long serving Chairman. Jean Claude Nzita is a resident of
Switzerland and has little if any dealing with FLEC in recent years. It is unknown
what may have prompted his statement and impersonation of a FLEC official
spokesman. Nonetheless, the international press reported his statements as
Coincidental with his grandson’s statement, the Chairman of FLEC claimed
responsibility for the attacks. FLEC Secretary General Joel Batila however
denied any responsibility by FLEC. The Chair however overrode Batila and
claimed Batila was not fully informed. Batila did not however change his position.
Page 6 of 9
As if on signal, Rui Gabirro announced formation of a Republic of Cabinda
government with himself and Mingas as ministers. Adding to the confusion, an
unknown individual claiming to be the Minister of Defense of the Republic of
Cabinda, Tiburcio Tati Tchingobo, denied responsibility but blamed other FLEC
groups in Cabinda. All of this was aired in the international press. The press
reported Tchingobo was part of the Federal Republic of Cabinda.
An internal FLEC dispute arose and the Chair recanted any involvement by
FLEC on January 14, 2011. The communiqué indicated that Mingas was a
known Angolan agent and that FLEC PM was a pure fabrication. The
communication however did not explain the obvious contradictions of such a
FLEC then indicated in a letter authorized by Batila that it would render all
cooperation possible to FIFA in an investigation the incident. FIFA forwarded the
offer to the African Football Federation which however did not respond further.
The Angolan reaction has been significant and sustained – arrests and
detentions of Cabindese within Cabinda and the Congo. The arrests began
almost immediately after the incident and have continued unabated. The January
8 incident was a mere pretext for the arrests since many of the individuals
arrested were not even associated with FLEC and were not in the vicinity of the
attack nor plausibly could have any connection with it. Their only crime was
alleged opposition to Angolan rule in Cabinda.
Angola has also issued a so called “wish list” of FLEC leadership it deemed
responsible for January 8 and wants them arrested as terrorists.
Attempted coup d'état"
In July 2010, FLEC's military chief of staff, Stanislas Boma, vice president
Alexandre Tati, security chief Carlos Luembe, and foreign affairs minister Luis
Veras without any apparent authority traveled to Luanda and subsequently
declared the armed struggle at an end. The Chair repudiated the event after the
fact however no explanation has ever been provided how the top four frontline
FLEC officials were corrupted or authorized to go to Luanda. The renegade
FLEC leadership was curiously not charged with any crimes in connection with
January 8 raising even more questions. Nonetheless, these four individuals
would logically have been responsible for the January 8 events if they had been
committed by FLEC as Angola has alleged. The defection of course
compromised all FLEC operations in Cabinda and its environs.
Page 7 of 9
Assassination of the FLEC Commanders
FLEC Military Chief of Staff Pirilampo was kidnapped from the Congo, tortured,
and murdered by the Angolans in March 2011. It is very likely he was betrayed
by individuals within FLEC.
This blow was followed by kidnapping, torture and murder of Northern Front
Commandeer Sabato two weeks later under similar circumstances.
The faction of Bomo and Tati in Luanda apparently had knowledge of the event.
Since July 2011, at least a half dozen other FLEC officers have been kidnapped,
murdered, or ambushed by Angolan forces including Vinagre, Buna Roi, Damas
Makunda, Larry, Dominique Makoumbou and Razao. Treachery is suspected in
all these cases as well.
These cross border assassinations have been justified by Angola on grounds of
the January 8 incident and a response to alleged terrorism by FLEC.
1. The events of January 8 implicate the Angolan police and possibly the Congo
DTC. The exact identities of the triggermen are unknown but they were not
acting on orders from FLEC.
2. Mingas, Jean Claude Nzita and Gabirro did the bidding of the MPLA after
January 8 by spreading disinformation and posing as legitimate represents of
FLEC in a plot to implicate FLEC as a terrorist organization and justify the
resulting Angolan rampage of murder and unlawful detention. These individuals
have done great harm to FLEC and are indirectly responsible for the summary
executions carried out by the MPLA post January 8, 2010.
3. The Tati and Boma faction have committed treachery against FLEC by
defecting to the MPLA. The deaths of FLEC’s military commanders rest on their
4. The position of the Chair indicates at best a fatal breakdown in
communication at a crucial time and an inability to contain a major crisis.
1. If FLEC is to survive it must institute strong internal security measures, it is
unacceptable that its front line commanders are assassinated seemingly at will
by the Angolans on the pretext of January 8.
Page 8 of 9
2. False FLECs must be rooted out and legally destroyed – Gabirro, Mingas,
Lopes, and Nzita Mbemba Antonio must be prevented from falsely using the
name of FLEC to provide disinformation, for profit and to collaborate with the
3. So called ongoing negotiations with Luanda must cease while front line FLEC
commanders are killed at will in violation of international law.
4. FLEC must act to repudiate the chain of unfortunate events spawned on
January 8 by vocally drawing attention to the Angolan involvement in the deaths
of innocent sportsmen to further the FAA campaign against FLEC.
5. Individuals implicated in this report should be called upon to explain their
actions. If FLEC or former FLEC members collaborated with the Angolans on
January 8 they must be exposed and brought to justice as well.
6. The events of January 8 should be investigated by an international
organization. FLEC brings a charge of state sponsored terrorism against the
government of Angola. The victims are Togolese, Cabindese and members of
7. FLEC submits this report to the Peace and Security Commission of the
African Union, Confederation of African Football, and the South African
Development Community Organ on Defense and Security for further investigation
Submitted to Premier Batila:
January 20, 2012
Page 9 of 9
Copies for action to:
Mr. MARTIN A. EWI
PEACE AND SECURITY DEPARTMENT
COMMISSION OF THE AFRICAN UNION
P.O. BOX 3243
ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA
Confederation of African Football
3 Abdel Khalek Sarwat Street
El Hay El Motamayez,
P.O. Box 23,
6th October City Egypt
South African Development Community
Organ on Defense and Security
PO Box 0095
H U M A N
R I G H T S
W A T C H
“They Put Me in the Hole”
Military Detention, Torture and Lack of Due Process in Cabinda
“They Put Me in the Hole”
Military Detention, Torture, and Lack of
Due Process in Cabinda
Copyright © 2009 Human Rights Watch
All rights reserved.
Printed in the United States of America
Cover design by Rafael Jimenez
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June 2009 1-56432-503-2
“They Put Me in the Hole”
Military Detention, Torture, and Lack of Due Process in Cabinda
I. Glossary of Acronyms ...................................................................................................... 1
II. Summary ........................................................................................................................ 2
III. Recommendations ......................................................................................................... 4
To the President and Government of Angola ................................................................... 4
IV. Methodology ................................................................................................................. 5
V. Background .................................................................................................................... 6
VI. Individuals Arrested for Security Crimes since September 2007 ..................................... 8
1. Fernando Lelo and co-accused FAA members .............................................................. 9
2. Persons Arrested in Rural Areas ................................................................................. 10
3. Former FLEC Members Arrested in the DRC and Cabinda ............................................ 10
VII. Abuses by the Angolan Armed Forces ......................................................................... 12
Arbitrary Arrests ............................................................................................................. 12
Incommunicado Detention ............................................................................................ 13
Torture in Military Custody ............................................................................................. 14
VIII. Treatment in Civilian Prisons ..................................................................................... 20
IX. Violations of Due Process Rights ................................................................................. 21
Acknowledgements .......................................................................................................... 25
Annex: Persons Held for Security Charges at Yabi Prison .................................................. 26
Current Detainees ......................................................................................................... 26
Previous Known Detainees ............................................................................................ 27
1 Human Rights Watch | June 2009
I. Glossary of Acronyms
ANR Congolese National Intelligence Service (Agence Nationale de
DRC Democratic Republic of Congo
FAA Angolan Armed Forces (Forças Armadas Angolanas)
FCD Cabindan Forum for Dialogue (Fórum Cabindês do Diálogo)
FLEC Liberation Front of the Enclave of Cabinda (Frente de Libertação do
Enclave de Cabinda)
FLEC-FAC Liberation Front of the Enclave of Cabinda – Cabindan Armed Forces
(Frente de Libertação do Enclave de Cabinda – Forças Armadas
GOI Operative Intelligence Group (Grupo Operativo de Inteligência)
ICCPR International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
MPLA Popular Liberation Movement of Angola (Movimento Popular de
Libertação de Angola)
OAA Angolan Bar Association (Ordem dos Advogados de Angola)
UNITA National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (União Nacional
para a Independência Total de Angola)
VOA Voice of America
“They Put Me in the Hole” 2
At least 38 people who have been arrested by Angolan military and intelligence officials in
Cabinda, Angola’s oil-rich enclave, from September 2007 to March 2009 have been
subjected to torture and cruel or inhumane treatment in military custody and been denied
basic due process rights as well as the right to a fair trial. The detainees are accused by the
authorities of involvement in armed opposition in Cabinda in the context of a separatist
The intensity of the armed conflict in Cabinda has declined as a result of large-scale
counterinsurgency operations in 2002-2003, and the government publicly claims that the
Cabinda conflict came to a close in 2006, when a peace agreement was signed with a faction
of the rebel Liberation Front for the Independence of the Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC). But the
campaign for independence remains unresolved, and sporadic guerrilla attacks have been
Despite its insistence that the insurgency is no longer active, the military’s systematic
arbitrary detention and torture of people in Cabinda suggests that the government has
resorted to unlawful means to retaliate against people with perceived sympathy for the
FLEC’s armed independence campaign. Angolan military and intelligence services have a
widespread presence in the small territory, and they have intimidated and harassed people
with perceived dissident views.
Human Rights Watch has previously reported on government intimidation in Cabinda. In a
February 2009 report on the parliamentary elections of September 2008, Human Rights
Watch showed how the government has continued to use security concerns in Cabinda to
justify restrictions on freedom of expression, association, and movement, as well as
arbitrary arrests and unfair trials. In December 2008, Human Rights Watch called attention to
the Angolan government’s use of torture and unfair trials in state security cases, in
connection with 14 civilians who were arbitrarily detained and tortured in military custody in
This report extends that work with new first-hand, field-based information and shows a
disturbing pattern of human rights violations during pre-trial detention of persons accused
of state security crimes in Cabinda. In most of the 38 cases that Human Rights Watch
investigated, those accused of security crimes endured arbitrary arrests, lengthy
3 Human Rights Watch | June 2009
incommunicado detention, and interrogations under torture in military custody. All 38
detainees were eventually brought to the judicial authorities and a civilian detention facility.
But trial records in several cases show that due process rights were violated.
In addition to providing further detail on the high-profile case of Fernando Lelo, a former
Voice of America correspondent who was convicted of national security crimes in September
2008, this report also draws attention to those cases that have attracted much less public
attention and risk being overlooked.
The Angolan government should immediately adopt all necessary measures to ensure that
the Angolan Armed Forces (FAA) act in accordance with Angola’s obligations under
international human rights and humanitarian law. In particular, the government should
ensure, in accordance with Angolan law, that the armed forces promptly transfer individuals
detained for security crimes to the competent civilian authorities, hold them according to
international standards for pre-trial detention, and provide a prompt and fair trial.
The Angolan courts should also promptly review the proceedings against detainees currently
or previously held for state security offenses, and then release unconditionally or fairly retry
individuals convicted in trials that violated basic fair trial standards. The Angolan
government should investigate allegations of serious human rights violations by members of
the military and intelligence services, and prosecute alleged perpetrators.
In order to prevent further abuses, the Angolan government should set up an independent
and impartial inquiry into human rights violations allegedly committed by the Angolan
Armed Forces and branches of intelligence in Cabinda and establish mechanisms to
compensate victims of torture and arbitrary detention.
“They Put Me in the Hole” 4
To the President and Government of Angola
• Take all necessary measures to ensure that the Angolan Armed Forces act in
accordance with Angola’s obligations under international human rights and
• Ensure that persons taken into custody are promptly brought before an independent
officer authorized by law to exercise judicial power, and held only in official places of
detention; that all detainees are provided with immediate and regular access to
family members and legal counsel, and that criminal proceedings are in accordance
with international fair trial standards.
• Ensure that coerced confessions, particularly those made under torture, are not
admitted as evidence against persons at trial and that prosecutors and judges have
the independence to investigate torture and illegal detention by any branch of the
military and domestic intelligence services, free from obstruction or interference.
• Release prisoners that have been convicted in unfair trials or appropriately retry
them in accordance with international fair trial standards.
• Provide adequate remedies, including compensation, for persons arbitrarily arrested
or tortured or otherwise mistreated in detention.
• Ensure that military and intelligence officers committing torture or other human
rights violations against persons in their custody are appropriately disciplined or
• Allow independent scrutiny of detention facilities where detainees allege having
been held illegally and tortured by security forces, including the detention center at
the headquarters of the second regional command of the Angolan Armed Forces and
all military garrisons.
• Set up an independent and impartial inquiry into human rights violations committed
by the Angolan Armed Forces and branches of intelligence services, including the
arbitrary detention of persons in military custody.
• Ratify the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading
Treatment or Punishment and its Optional Protocol and allow visits by the Protocol’s
Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture.
5 Human Rights Watch | June 2009
Between March 2008 and March 2009, a Human Rights Watch researcher visited the
Angolan enclave province of Cabinda (capital and municipality of Cacongo) three times and
conducted interviews there, in Luanda, and elsewhere. The researcher interviewed 60
persons, in person, by phone, or email, including lawyers, members of religious groups and
civil society organizations, activists, journalists, diplomats and officials of the government,
military, police, and the judiciary. In March 2009, the researcher also conducted in-person
group and individual interviews with 20 persons detained at Yabi prison in Cabinda who had
been charged with “crimes against the security of the State” and related crimes. Interviews
with detainees were conducted freely, without interference or the presence of government
officials. Yet, provincial government, military, and police officials were less open for Human
Rights Watch interviews in March 2009 than previously. In response to official meeting
requests, most claimed being unavailable. The researcher also consulted legal documents
referring to the cases. The initials of detainees whose accounts were quoted have been
changed to protect their security.
“They Put Me in the Hole” 6
The Angolan enclave province of Cabinda, with an estimated population of 300,000, is
separated from the country’s other 17 provinces by a strip of the Democratic Republic of the
Congo (DRC). It produces half of Angola’s oil.
The armed separatist FLEC movement, founded in 1963, first fought for independence from
Portugal, Angola’s colonial rulers, and then from Angola itself when Angola became
independent in 1975. Following the end of a civil war in Angola in 2002 between the
government, dominated by the Popular Liberation Movement of Angola (MPLA), and the
main opposition movement, National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA),
the Angolan Armed Forces (FAA) re-deployed some 30,000 government soldiers to Cabinda
to wipe out the remaining separatist insurgency. These military efforts led to the destruction
of FLEC’s main bases in the interior and considerably weakened the guerrilla’s military
In 2004, Human Rights Watch documented human rights violations against civilians in
Cabinda in the course of these counter-insurgency operations, including extrajudicial killings,
arbitrary detention, torture, and excessive restrictions on freedom of movement. According
to that research, most of the human rights violations were committed by the Angolan Armed
Forces with impunity.
In 2004, the government claimed that the war in Cabinda was over,
but dialogue would continue. However, successive attempts to reach a formal peace
agreement with several wings of the FLEC remained unsuccessful, and sporadic insurgent
In 2006, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by the Angolan government and
António Bento Bembe, the former leader of the FLEC Renovada wing and president of the
Cabindan Forum for Dialogue (FCD), sought to formally end the armed conflict. The FCD had
been established in 2004 as a joint commission including representatives of the two main
FLEC factions—FLEC Renovada and FLEC-FAC—as well as members of civil society and the
churches, to facilitate peace negotiations with the government. The MOU included an
Human Rights Watch, Angola: Between War and Peace in Cabinda, briefing paper, December 2004,
http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2004/12/22/angola-oil-rich-cabinda-army-abuses-civilians. Local civil society, including the
civic association of Cabinda, Mpalabanda, and the Catholic Church’s Justice and Peace Commission also issued several
human rights reports detailing abuses in Cabinda, most of them by the FAA.
7 Human Rights Watch | June 2009
amnesty, a demobilization and reintegration plan for former FLEC combatants, and the
allocation of a number of government posts to a range of former FLEC officials.
The peace agreement, however, has enjoyed little credibility in Cabinda, because the most
active FLEC wing, FLEC-FAC, as well as other members of the FCD, had been excluded from
the talks, and no political concessions were made to the separatists. The armed insurgency
has continued, but since 2006 the government has claimed the war ended in Cabinda and
has attributed continuing sporadic attacks to “bandits.” FLEC-FAC has claimed responsibility
for a number of armed attacks targeting government forces and expatriate workers of private
companies. The intensity of the armed conflict and the level of serious human rights
violations have decreased since 2004, but the FAA presence is proportionately higher in
Cabinda than elsewhere in Angola today, suggesting the government’s continuing concern
about the separatist movement.
Despite the peace agreement in 2006, freedom of expression and association remains
restricted in Cabinda. The government has used state security concerns to crack down on
peaceful opposition and scrutiny. In late 2006 and early 2007, two high-profile civil society
activists were arrested for alleged state security crimes in Cabinda and were later released,
following local and international public pressure, without having been formally charged.
July 2006, the provincial court banned the civic association of Cabinda, Mpalabanda,
founded in 2003, and alleged that the organization had incited violence and acted as a
political party campaigning for Cabinda’s independence. The new bishop who took office in
June 2006 temporarily dissolved the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission, which had
been essential to documenting human rights violations since 2002. As a result, local and
international organizations have struggled to obtain independent information from the
interior to corroborate allegations of human rights abuses committed by both the FAA and
FLEC since 2006.
The Memorandum of Understanding for Peace and Reconciliation in the Province of Cabinda was signed on August 1, 2006
and approved by the Angolan parliament on August 16, 2006. See Resolution 27-B/06 of August 16, 2006, published in the
state gazette (Diário da República) on August 16, 2006.
Raul Danda, then spokesperson of the civic association Mpalabanda, was arrested under state security charges on
September 29, 2006 in Cabinda, allegedly for carrying newspaper articles that expressed criticism of the government’s policy
in Cabinda. He was released on November 3, 2006 and later formally pardoned under the amnesty law, despite never having
been charged. Sarah Wykes, a campaigner for the international organization Global Witness, was arrested in Cabinda on
February 18, 2007 under alleged charges of espionage, and was later released and allowed to leave the country in March 2007.
“They Put Me in the Hole” 8
VI. Individuals Arrested for Security Crimes since September 2007
Officially, since the MOU in 2006, the Angolan government has denied the continued
existence of an armed FLEC guerrilla movement. Senior FAA and police officials explained to
Human Rights Watch in March 2008 that those people who were arrested for national
security crimes were “bandits who oppose development,”
or “people who still identify with
FLEC, seeking to call attention to compromise the government’s cooperation with countries
Bento Bembe—former FLEC Renovada and FCD leader and current minister
without portfolio—explained to Human Rights Watch in March 2009 that “those people
cannot be from the FLEC, because I represent the guerrillas.”
However, the cases
documented in this report clearly contradict this claim, as many of the charges in the cases
refer to alleged involvement in concrete acts of armed insurgency. Court records also often
explicitly refer to alleged cooperation with FLEC-FAC.
Between September 2007 and March 2009, at least 38 persons, including six members of
the Angolan Armed Forces, (see list in Annex) were arrested by military and intelligence
agents for alleged “crimes against the security of the State,” including armed rebellion and
sabotage, and other crimes relating to the armed FLEC insurgency in Cabinda, such as
homicide, illegal possession of arms, and desertion. The Angolan law on crimes against the
security of the state from 1978, which allows for up to 215 days pre-trial detention,
an overly broad and ambiguous range of offenses: “Every and any act, not provided for by
law, that endangers or may endanger the security of the State...”
All 38 detainees were initially held in military custody for long periods—from 26 days to six
months—before being transferred to the civilian prison at Yabi in Cabinda and brought either
before a prosecutor or to be formally charged or before a judge.
So far, two trials have taken
place, as a result of which seven persons were convicted and four were acquitted.
Human Rights Watch interview with Miguel José Luís Muhonga, provincial first superintendent and second commander of the
National Police, Cabinda, March 26, 2008.
Human Rights Watch interview with Colonel Antonino Pessala, spokesperson of the second regional command of the FAA,
Cabinda, March 27, 2008.
Human Rights Watch interview with General Bento Bembe, Luanda, March 26, 2009.
Law on Pre-trial detention (18-A/92) (Lei da prisão preventiva em instrução preparatória), arts. 25-26, allows 90 days pre-
trial detention in cases of crimes against the security of the state, which can be extended three times for 45, 45 and 35 days.
Law on crimes against the security of the State (Law 17/78 of May 26, 1978), art. 26.
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in article 9 requires that “Anyone who is arrested shall be
informed, at the time of arrest, of the reasons for his arrest and shall be promptly informed of any charges against him” and
9 Human Rights Watch | June 2009
The 38 individuals targeted, arrested and charged can roughly be grouped into three
1. Fernando Lelo and co-accused FAA members
The Angolan Armed Forces in September 2007 arrested six FAA personnel: António Santos
Nguimbi (soldier), Lourenço Ila Dembe (soldier), Alberto Suami (1
sergeant), Alberto João
Chimbinda (soldier), Basílio Muanda (1
corporal), and Custódio Nguimbi Sumbo (1
sergeant). Their arrests led to the November 15, 2007 arrest of former Voice of America (VOA)
journalist José Fernando Lelo by the Angolan military at his workplace in the oil compound of
All of these men were eventually charged with having organized or carried out three armed
attacks between December 2006 and July 2007; the FAA members were additionally charged
with having committed military crimes such as desertion.
Lelo and the six were put on trial
before the Cabinda military court from May 5 to June 11, 2008 and convicted on September
16, 2008. Lelo was sentenced to 12 years of imprisonment. Five of the co-accused were
sentenced to 13 years of imprisonment. Custódio Nguimbi Sumbo was acquitted. Lelo and
the five convicted military personnel are currently prisoners at Yabi prison in Cabinda, which
Human Rights Watch visited, while an appeal against their conviction to the Supreme
Military Court is pending.
Human Rights Watch and other organizations believe that Lelo was primarily targeted for
arrest and conviction as a result of opinions he expressed as a VOA journalist until
December 2006, which were perceived to be critical of the Angolan government and the
2006 Memorandum of Understanding.
that “Anyone arrested or detained on a criminal charge shall be brought promptly before a judge or other officer authorized by
law to exercise judicial power.”
The Cabinda military prosecutor’s accusation quoted the following attacks: On December 29, 2006 against a military
vehicle in Buco Zau, killing three and injuring two soldiers; on July 27, 2007 against military guarding a cell phone antenna in
Buco Zau, killing one soldier and injuring another; and on September 13, 2007 against a military vehicle, killing two soldiers
and seriously injuring five. Cópia do Despacho da Pronúncia, Procuradoria Militar da Segunda Região, Cabinda, March 5, 2008.
Human Rights Watch, “Angola–End Torture and Unfair Trials in Cabinda”, Human Rights Watch news release, December 10,
2008, http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2008/12/05/angola-end-torture-and-unfair-trials-cabinda ; see also Amnesty
International, “Angola: Unfair Trial of Fernando Lelo”, AFR 12/008/2008, September 22, 2008,
http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/AFR12/008/2008/en (accessed June 5, 2009).
“They Put Me in the Hole” 10
2. Persons Arrested in Rural Areas
Most of those who were arrested and charged with security crimes between January 2008
and March 2009 were residents of villages in the interior of Cabinda. The majority were
arrested in groups during military raids, which followed armed attacks attributed to the FLEC
separatist guerrilla movement in the municipalities of Buco Zau and Cacongo.
So far, only five of those arrested—João Mateus Luemba, Elias Menos, Garcia David António,
António Zau, and Natalício Mbatchi—were tried by the provincial civil court from March 24 to
April 22, 2009. On May 7, the judge acquitted four of the accused for lack of evidence, while
sentencing Mbatchi to 18 months in prison for illegal possession of arms. All five had been
arrested in January 2008, over a year previously, and charged with “crimes against the
security of the State” and related crimes. At that time, all were released from custody,
including Mbatchi, who had already spent 17 months in pre-trial detention.
Local human rights activists told Human Rights Watch that more people have been arrested
during such military raids and were later released from military custody without having been
charged and presented to the public prosecutor.
3. Former FLEC Members Arrested in the DRC and Cabinda
Seven detainees at Yabi prison interviewed by Human Rights Watch confirmed that they
previously were FLEC members. Five had been living in the Democratic Republic of Congo
(DRC) since 2005 and 2006. They said that they had not been FLEC members since. They
were arrested in different places in the DRC in October 2008 by the Congolese Agence
Nationale de Renseignement (ANR) and later transferred to Angola. Two former FLEC
members were also arrested in Cabinda in Dinge (Cacongo) and in Cabinda city in the same
month. They alleged not having yet been formally charged with any crime.
Five men were arrested in January 2008 in the village of Sevo da Vula, Buco Zau, following an attack on December 29, 2007
against border police, killing one. Five men were arrested in January 2008 in the village of Tando Malele, Buco Zau, after an
attack against the oil company Grant on December 29, 2007, which killed a Brazilian worker. Five men were arrested in April
2008 in Micuma I, Buco Zau, following an attack against staff of the private company Emcica on December 31, 2008, which
killed two workers. One man was arrested in January 2009 in Cossuenda, Buco Zau, after the assassination of a traditional
leader on December 30, 2008. Three men were arrested in the village of Sassa Zau Velho, Buco Zau, on the day of an attack
against a military vehicle on January 7, 2009. Five men were arrested in the village of Liamba-Lione, Cacongo, on the day of an
attack against a vehicle, which killed one Chinese worker and seriously injured two on March 26, 2009.
Local human rights activists documented 11 such cases between June 2007 and January 2008. This includes the case of José
Gabriel Puati, who was allegedly killed by FAA soldiers upon his arrest on December 29, 2007. Human Rights Watch interviews
with three human rights activists (names withheld) in Cabinda, March 2008 and March 2009.
11 Human Rights Watch | June 2009
Human Rights Watch also interviewed two registered refugees from Cabinda, including one
former FLEC member now in Lisbon, Portugal, and the current Voice of America
correspondent in Kinshasa, both of whom allege having been threatened with arrest and
transfer to Angola in early 2008 and early 2009, respectively.
These firsthand accounts and
secondary reports received by Human Rights Watch suggest a wider pattern of arrests of
Cabindans in the DRC at the request of the Angolan authorities.
Human Rights Watch phone interviews with VOA correspondent in Kinshasa, February 11, 2009, and with José Luis Luemba
Veras, in Lisbon, April 6, 2009. Human Rights Watch also had access to a letter of complaint written by Mr. Veras to the
regional UNHRC delegation in Kinshasa from March 24, 2008, describing the threats he was subjected to, which led him to
seek refuge in Portugal in July 2008.
“They Put Me in the Hole” 12
VII. Abuses by the Angolan Armed Forces
This chapter details key human rights violations committed by the Angolan Armed Forces
against persons detained under the charge of “crimes against the security of the state” and
related crimes since September 2007.
The 20 detainees interviewed at Yabi prison and lawyers of those and other detainees told
Human Rights Watch that all were arrested without warrants, most of them by the military.
Arrests without a warrant are permitted under Angolan law when the persons are caught in
the act of which they are accused, but the arrests need to be validated by the public
prosecutor on the same day, or within five days maximum, when a public prosecutor cannot
be reached immediately.
This time limit is often exceeded in Angola, as even the Cabinda
public prosecutor conceded to Human Rights Watch.
According to the detainees, lawyers, and legal counsel, none of those arrested was
apprehended in combat situations or with arms alleged to have been used in guerrilla
attacks, nor were the detainees presented to any authorized magistrate immediately
following their arrest, as required by law. Lelo was presented with an arrest warrant, with no
issuing authority, at his work place in Cabinda and was taken in handcuffs to the military
section of São Paulo prison in Luanda, where he was held for more than three months before
being transferred back to Cabinda on March 30, 2008. Most of the detainees arrested in
villages said they were arrested following a guerrilla attack that had taken place close to
their village or several villages away. In addition, several detainees told Human Rights Watch
that they were arrested when they presented themselves to the authorities, either because
they had heard a military commander was looking for them at their homes, were seeking
information about an arrested relative, or, as in the case of three former FLEC members in
the DRC, because they formally announced to the Congolese authorities their intention to
return to Cabinda.
Law on Pre-trial detention (18-A/92) (Lei da prisão preventiva em instrução preparatória), art. 9 and 14.
Human Rights Watch interview with António Nito, public prosecutor, Cabinda, March 18, 2009. See also: United Nations
General Assembly, Human Rights Council: Report of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Addendum–Mission to Angola,
A/HRC/7/4/Add. 4, February 29, 2008; Human Rights Watch interview with Fernando Macedo, member of the Angolan human
rights organization Association Justice Peace and Democracy (Associação Justiça Paz e Democracia or AJPD) in Luanda, March
13 Human Rights Watch | June 2009
All detainees told Human Rights Watch that they were held incommunicado in military
custody for long periods of time—in several cases, for more than 35 days and in some cases
for up to 50 days—before being presented to an authorized magistrate (the public
prosecutor) and the criminal investigation police and eventually brought to the civilian
prison of Yabi. During military custody, they were unable to contact legal counsel or family
members. Only Fernando Lelo had access to a lawyer five days after his arrest.
FAA members co-accused with Lelo (but arrested before him) were held incommunicado in
military custody for up to six months in Cabinda and Luanda, without access to a legal
counsel, until they were transferred to Cabinda on March 30, 2008, brought to the prison at
Yabi, and presented to the Cabinda public prosecutor.
Those detainees who were arrested in rural areas told Human Rights Watch that they first
were held in different military garrisons and in the FAA headquarters in Cabinda, before
eventually being brought to the prison at Yabi and presented to the public prosecutor.
Detainees arrested in the DRC by Congolese intelligence agents said they were first sent to
and held in unknown places in the capital, Luanda, before being directly transferred to the
FAA headquarters in Cabinda, where they were held for more than three weeks before being
presented to the public prosecutor and finally brought to the prison at Yabi.
According to Angolan law, incommunicado detention is allowed until the public prosecutor
interrogates the detainee. This must occur on the same day, or within five days maximum.
Incommunicado detention can be extended after the first interrogation—for national security
crimes for up to 10 days—but only if authorized by the public prosecutor.
Extended incommunicado detention violates the fundamental human rights to humane
treatment and access to counsel, as provided under the International Covenant on Civil and
Their legal counsel, Arão Tempo, spoke with his clients for the first time on April 7, 2008. Human Rights Watch phone
interview with Arão Tempo, May 30, 2009.
Human Rights Watch interviews with detainees at Yabi prison, Cabinda, March 16, 2009.
Human Rights Watch interviews with detainees arrested in the DRC at Yabi prison, Cabinda, March 16, 2009.
Law on Pre-trial detention (18-A/92) (Lei da prisão preventiva em instrução preparatória), art. 3. Angolan human rights
activists of the Association Justice Peace and Democracy (AJPD) challenge this provision. See Pedro Romão and Fernando
Macedo, Anotações à Lei da Prisão Preventiva e Legislação Complementar, Coimbra, May 2008, p. 18.
“They Put Me in the Hole” 14
Political Rights (ICCPR), which Angola ratified in 1992.
The UN Commission on Human
Rights has repeatedly said that incommunicado detention should be prohibited.
addition, Angola’s practice is contrary to the minimum international standards of detention
as set out in the UN Standard Minimal Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners.
Torture in Military Custody
Many detainees told Human Rights Watch that military officers and soldiers under their
command tortured them to force them to incriminate themselves and others. Others said
they were threatened that they would be killed unless they “say the truth.” Some were
forced to sign written confessions at gunpoint in local military garrisons, before they were
transferred to the FAA headquarters in Cabinda city.
All detainees interviewed by Human Rights Watch were specific about where and how they
were tortured. Several practices of torture and degrading treatment described to Human
Rights Watch in March 2009 are consistent with practices documented by Human Rights
Watch in 2003—a period when the armed conflict in Cabinda was more intense.
Rights Watch researcher saw that most of the detainees had visible scars on their arms near
their elbows, consistent with their accounts of having been tied up with cords across their
One of the legal counsel of the FAA members convicted along with Lelo in 2008 told Human
Rights Watch that his clients were subjected to torture and inhumane treatment—including
mock executions, severe injuries with firearms, beatings with various objects, and public
humiliation of relatives—in several FAA garrisons. One soldier lost a leg as a result of injuries
suffered in military custody.
Lelo was the only detainee interviewed by Human Rights
Watch who said he had not been physically mistreated.
See ICCPR, G.A. res. 2200A (XXI), 21 U.N. GAOR Supp. (No. 16) at 52, U.N. Doc. A/6316 (1966), 999 U.N.T.S. 171, entered into
force Mar. 23, 1976, arts. 10 (1), and 14 (3).
See, e.g. UN Commission on Human Rights, Resolution 2003/32, para 11.
United Nations Minimal Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, adopted 1955, U.N. Doc A/CONF/611, annex I, E.S.C. res. 663C,
24 U.N. ESCOR Supp. (n° 1) at 11, U.N. Doc E/3048 (1957), amended E.S.C. res. 2076, 62. U.N. ESCOR Supp. (n° 1) at 35, U.N.
Doc. E/5988 (1977).
These practices include, for example, tying detainees’ elbows together at the back or holding detainees in pits dug into the
ground. See Human Rights Watch, Between War and Peace in Cabinda, p. 16f.
See “Angola–End Torture and Unfair Trials in Cabinda”, Human Rights Watch news release, December 10, 2008,
15 Human Rights Watch | June 2009
Three other detainees described to Human Rights Watch their treatment by the military as
I slept at the police post, and the morning after, the FAA came to fetch me,
and a military security commander took me to the military garrison at Loma.
There soldiers tied me up with cords across my back and beat me, shouting
‘because you are FLEC’, ‘because you attacked a car of a company and killed
a worker’, ‘You are the head of the group’. I bled a lot. They took me—tied
up—to the military garrison at Caio and put me in a hole full of water. I stayed
there for 19 days, after which they took me back to Loma where I was
presented to a group of senior military. I insisted I was innocent. Then they
put me again in the ‘hole’ in Caio where I stayed for another nine days.
They beat me, squeezed my testicles and my tongue with a pincer, telling me
to ‘say the truth.’ I cried in pain. They called a nurse to give me an injection.
Commander Lacrau then asked, ‘Tell us how many arms the coordinator gave
you to attack this car.’
In the village, the military tied our arms up with bootlaces, stripped our shirts,
and beat us. I vomited blood. They searched the village for arms and
ammunition but didn’t find any. We were taken to the next military garrison in
Necuto where they stripped us naked and tied my testicles to a mortar. Then
they took us to the military unit at Loma, Buco Zau. There, the military
commander, Lacrau, accused me of having taken arms to the village from the
city. He gave a guard a weapon and a bucket and told him to dig a grave and
execute me. Then he fired a shot in the air and told the guard to lock me in
the latrine and tell the others arrested with me that I was dead and the same
would happen to them if they didn’t tell the truth… throughout the night
military counter-intelligence operatives came to beat us. They threatened us
with pistols and knives ‘to tell the truth.’ At some stage we said anything. The
beatings were too much. Later we were taken by state security agents and
two military in a civilian Land Cruiser to the military garrison at Dinge. There
According to the detainee A.B.C. (fictitious abbreviation), these abuses took place in April 2008. Human Rights Watch
interview at Yabi prison, Cabinda, March 16, 2009.
According to the detainee D.E.F. (fictitious abbreviation), these abuses took place in April 2008. Human Rights Watch
interview at Yabi prison, Cabinda, March 16, 2009.
“They Put Me in the Hole” 16
they shouted at us, ‘You are FLEC.’ They beat us with whips and rifle butts
and burned our testicles with cigarettes.
Detainees told Human Rights Watch that they were eventually held for varying periods of
time under inhumane conditions at the FAA headquarters in Cabinda in a dark, dirty cellar
without windows and sanitation facilities, which floods when it rains. This detention facility
is commonly known and feared as “the hole.” The FAA spokesperson in Cabinda in March
2008 denied to Human Rights Watch the existence of such a prison.
Some detainees said
they met military personnel who were being held there for internal disciplinary offenses.
Most who had been detained there complained that they were prevented from washing for
up to 17 days and defecating for up to five days. A lawyer acting as defense counsel for the
six FAA members co-accused with Lelo told Human Rights Watch that the detained FAA
members were handcuffed for three months in the “hole,” where they were beaten and often
Another defense lawyer told Human Rights Watch his client was beaten at the
FAA headquarters with whips until he fell unconscious.
Former FLEC members arrested in October 2008 in the DRC and transferred to Angola told
Human Rights Watch that they were held in the “hole” for long periods of time—between 25
and 30 days—where they were threatened with execution, beaten, and kicked by officials
identified only by aliases—“Colonel Walter,” “Major Cafundinho”—and several unidentified
military, including military police officers from the FAA headquarters. As a former FLEC
member arrested in Cabinda described:
Members of the military police who arrested me threatened to shoot me, tied
me up with bootlaces, and took me to the headquarters of the second
regional command of the FAA. There, “Major Kafumbira” beat me with metal
sticks and rifle butts and shouted “Take off your clothes! We will kill you!”
They took my money and ordered me to tell them the names of all the people
Human Rights Watch interview with G.H. (fictitious abbreviation), at Yabi prison, Cabinda, March 16, 2009.
Human Rights Watch interview with Colonel Antonino Pessala, FAA spokesperson and head of the department for patriotic
education, Cabinda, March 27, 2008. See “Angola–End Torture and Unfair Trials in Cabinda”, Human Rights Watch news
release, December 10, 2008, http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2008/12/05/angola-end-torture-and-unfair-trials-cabinda. In
March 2009, the office of the second regional FAA command in Cabinda declined a meeting with the Human Rights Watch
researcher by referring to an outstanding authorization from the head of the general chief of staff of the FAA in Luanda.
Human Rights Watch email interview with Arão Tempo, November 25, 2008. See also “Angola–End Torture and Unfair Trials
in Cabinda”, Human Rights Watch news release, December 10, 2008.
Human Rights Watch interview with Francisco Luemba in Cabinda, March 25, 2008; Objection to the Judges Counselors of
the Chamber for Crimes against the Security of the State of the Supreme Court, presented by Francisco Luemba regarding the
process 490-C/08of the public prosecutor against Luís Geraldo Barros and others, Cabinda, January 31, 2009.
17 Human Rights Watch | June 2009
I work with, whether I knew guerrilla members in the forest, and why I came
to the city. Blood poured out of my ears.
The local representative of the Angolan Bar Association (OAA) told Human Rights Watch that
10 people arrested on March 26, 2009 in the village Liambo-Lione (Cacongo municipality)
alleged that they were severely beaten by military personnel inside the FAA headquarters.
Only five of the men—after 26 days of incommunicado detention—were eventually presented
to the public prosecutor. The other five, including the wife of one detainee, were released
directly from military custody after five days.
According to Angolan law, only the public prosecutor has the power to interrogate
However, detainees and lawyers interviewed by Human Rights Watch said that,
in all cases, military intelligence officers carried out interrogations. In addition, military
officials in command of interrogation sessions that involved torture, in which some
participated actively, never formally identified themselves, either by name or affiliation. Thus,
soldiers and commanding officers involved in the torture of detainees are only known by
aliases, or noms de guerre, the most quoted being “Colonel Fuchi,” “Colonel Walter,”
“Major Cafundinho.” Some detainees, lawyers, and others told Human Rights Watch that the
officers belong to a unit called the Operative Intelligence Group (Grupo Operativo de
Inteligência or GOI), created some years ago to coordinate the counter-insurgency activities
of Angola’s domestic and military intelligence services in Cabinda.
Human Rights Watch
could only identify the full name of one well-known senior military officer, Col. António José
da Conceição Kambanda, alias “Lacrau,” commander of the Third Infantry Regiment of the
FAA, who oversaw the torture of detainees in Buco Zau. Several detainees told Human Rights
Watch that some local administrators and military commanders as well as senior military
officials tried to intervene on behalf of detainees they perceived to be innocent, but were
overruled by Colonel “Lacrau.”
The provincial public prosecutor and former military prosecutor, António Nito, denied having
“any knowledge” of unofficial military detention places, as well as interrogations under
torture in military custody, and questioned the credibility and accuracy of detainees’
Human Rights Watch interview with I.J. (fictitious abbreviation), detainee at Yabi prison, Cabinda, March 16, 2009.
Human Rights Watch phone interview with Arão Tempo, Cabinda, May 4, 2009.
Law on Pre-trial detention (18-A/92) (Lei da prisão preventiva em instrução preparatória), art. 4.
Former detainees interviewed by Human Rights Watch in Cabinda in 2004 had referred to an officer called “Walter” as head
of the intelligence. See Human Rights Watch, Between War and Peace in Cabinda, p. 18.
Human Rights Watch interviews with a local lawyer and journalist (names withheld) in Cabinda, March 2009 and follow-up
email and phone interviews in May 2009.
“They Put Me in the Hole” 18
accounts. He told Human Rights Watch: “They would say anything, but this is not sufficient.
They have to present evidence and file a legal complaint.”
Nevertheless, the accounts
collected by Human Rights Watch are remarkably consistent and suggest a systematic
pattern of abuse by the Angolan military and intelligence services.
The prohibition on torture is a fundamental principle of international human rights law;
torture is prohibited at all times and under all circumstances. Angola has yet to ratify the
Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment,
which obliges states to prevent and sanction acts of torture and other mistreatment. The
Angolan government has on several occasions promised to ratify the convention and its
optional protocol, which allows international monitoring of detention facilities. It reiterated
this promise in its voluntary pledges submitted to the UN General Assembly in May 2007
before being elected as a member of the Human Rights Council for 2007-2010.
As a member of the United Nations, Angola has agreed to abide by the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights, which bans all use of torture and other mistreatment.
Angola is party to
the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human
and People’s Rights, both of which prohibit arbitrary detention and outlaw the use of torture
and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment.
In addition, Angola is bound by international
humanitarian law, the laws of war. Common article 3 of the 1949 Geneva Conventions, which
applies during internal armed conflicts, protects captured combatants and detained civilians
against torture and cruel, humiliating, and degrading treatment.
In addition, Angola’s constitution, which is currently under review in parliament, states that
“Constitutional and legal norms related to fundamental rights shall be interpreted and
integrated harmoniously with the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the African
Charter on Human and People’s Rights and other international instruments to which Angola
is party,” and that “In the assessment of disputes by Angolan courts, those international
instruments shall apply even when not invoked by parties.”
Human Rights Watch interview with António Nito, public prosecutor, Cabinda, March 18, 2009.
Angola’s voluntary pledges to promote human rights, Annex to the letter dated 3 May 2007 from the Permanent
Representative of Angola to the United Nations addressed to the President of the General Assembly,
http://daccessdds.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N07/331/59/PDF/N0733159.pdf?OpenElement (accessed May 12, 2009).
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, G.A. res. 217A (III), U.N. Doc A/810 at 71 (1948), art. 5.
ICCPR, art. 7; The African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, adopted on June 27, 1981, entered into force on October 21,
1986, ratified by Angola in 1990, art. 5.
Lei Constiticional (1992), art. 21. See also comments by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention: United Nations
General Assembly, Human Rights Council: Report of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Addendum - Mission to Angola,
A/HRC/7/4/Add. 4, February 29, 2008, p. 11, para 32.
19 Human Rights Watch | June 2009
instruments place a legal obligation on Angola to end its arbitrary detention, torture, and
mistreatment of detainees in Cabinda.
“They Put Me in the Hole” 20
VIII. Treatment in Civilian Prisons
Detainees at Yabi prison told Human Rights Watch that detention conditions at the newly
built prison facility, where all were eventually brought, were generally good. That was less
true for the former VOA journalist Fernando Lelo, who told Human Rights Watch that he was
only allowed to leave his cell for the prison yard after several months. “My detention
conditions are not determined by the prison director, but by orders from his superiors,” he
said. “It’s as if I was in a private prison here.”
However, several detainees at Yabi prison told Human Rights Watch that after finally being
presented to the public prosecutor and criminal investigation police, they were first shuttled
back and forth to different cells of the “Cadeia Civil,” a transit detention center for military
and civilian detainees, including illegal migrants.
Some detainees told Human Rights
Watch they were “forced under the seats” of the cars by officials shuttling them to and from
the Cadeia Civil.
Others described to Human Rights Watch the inhumane conditions at that jail:
We stayed 17 days in the ‘dark cell’ of the Cadeia Civil. We had to do
everything there—urinate, defecate, eat—but they didn’t beat us. After being
presented to the public prosecutor, we were taken back to the military
headquarters, where we stayed for seven days. Then they took us back to the
Cadeia Civil, to the civilian part, for another four days.
One detainee described his stay in the Cadeia Civil as “cramped into a cell of four
square meters maximum together with 17 other people.”
Human Rights Watch interview with Fernando Lelo at Yabi prison in Cabinda, March 16, 2009.
An official request by Human Rights Watch to visit the Cadeia Civil in March 2009 was not responded to.
Human Rights Watch interview with K.L., M.N., O.P. (fictitious abbreviations), detainees at Yabi prison, Cabinda, March 16,
Human Rights Watch interview with K.L. (fictitious abbreviation), detainee at Yabi prison, Cabinda, March 16, 2009.
Human Rights Watch interview with Q.R. (fictitious abbreviation),detainee at Yabi prison, Cabinda, March 16, 2009.
21 Human Rights Watch | June 2009
IX. Violations of Due Process Rights
Human Rights Watch’s research into the criminal proceedings and trial of Fernando Lelo and
the co-accused FAA members found that their treatment fell far short of international due
The six FAA members were arrested in September 2007 without a warrant and were held
incommunicado in military custody for up to six months, during which time they were forced
to confess and incriminate Lelo and themselves under torture and degrading and inhumane
Lelo and the six co-accused FAA members were formally charged by the military prosecutor
of Cabinda in March 2008 with crimes against the security of the state and military crimes.
They were tried by a military court in hearings lasting from May 5 to June 11, 2008. This was
in violation of Angolan law, because crimes against the security of the State and cases
against civilians, like Lelo, should be tried in civilian courts.
No credible evidence, either during the criminal investigation or at the trial, was presented
against any of the detainees, while evidence in defense of the accused was not taken into
account. The military prosecutor and military judge dismissed all objections regarding
arbitrary arrest, evidence obtained under torture, and the jurisdiction of military courts.
Lelo was accused of having “undertaken a vast recruitment” of former FLEC soldiers
integrated into the FAA, with the aim of carrying out armed attacks against the FAA in order
to influence national and international opinion that the separatist insurgency in Cabinda
continues to be active.
However, the co-accused FAA members had not identified Lelo
during two lineups. They allege that they were tortured to incriminate themselves and Lelo.
Law on Military Crimes (4/94 of January 28). See also United Nations General Assembly, Human Rights Council: Report of
the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Addendum–Mission to Angola, A/HRC/7/4/Add. 4, February 29, 2008, p. 11, para
See: Objection to the President Judge of the Military Court of the 2
Region presented by defense counselors Francisco
Luemba and Arão Tempo regarding the process 19/2008 of the military prosecutor against Alberto João Chimbinda and others,
Cabinda, May 5, 2008. According to the Angolan Criminal Procedure Code–currently under review–defense lawyers may only
challenge an accusation alleging procedural irregularities after the criminal investigation is completed. The UN Working Group
on Arbitrary Detention expressed concern with the fact that a detention cannot be effectively challenged during the
investigation phase and judges are not involved before trial in Angola. See: United Nations General Assembly, Human Rights
Council: Report of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Addendum–Mission to Angola, A/HRC/7/4/Add. 4, February 29,
2008, para 40-45 and 75-77.
Cópia do Despacho da Pronúncia, Procuradoria Militar da Segunda Região, Cabinda, March 5, 2008.
“They Put Me in the Hole” 22
No other evidence was presented to suggest that Lelo had met the FAA soldiers whom he
was accused of paying and instructing to carry out armed attacks.
The trial was further tainted by government statements that infringed upon judicial
independence and Lelo’s right to a fair trial. Long before the start of the trial, Attorney
General João Maria de Sousa, stated repeatedly in the state media that there were “strong
indications” of Lelo’s guilt.
Such statements were widely viewed as intended to exert
pressure on the judge to hand down a conviction.
In addition, according to Angolan law and international human rights standards, trials are to
However, several trial observers told Human Rights Watch that public access to
the hearings, including for family members and the privately owned press, was restricted,
while a large number of domestic and military intelligence and police agents occupied the
Lelo himself described the atmosphere during the trial to Human Rights Watch:
Almost every day they suspended the trial. We spent two hours maximum
there a day. Every time I was shuttled from the prison to court, escorted by a
motorcade of several cars with armed agents of the Public Order Police, the
Rapid Intervention Police, and the FAA. The car I was in didn’t have windows.
This spectacle served to present me to the public as a highly dangerous
criminal and to intimidate the population watching the scene. At court, the
military prosecutor dominated the trial, despite not being familiar with the
On September 16—almost three months after the trial—five FAA members were sentenced to
13 years of imprisonment for military crimes (violence against a superior and subordinate
and desertion) and crimes against the security of the state, including armed rebellion. One
FAA member was acquitted. Fernando Lelo was sentenced to 12 years of imprisonment for
inciting the co-accused to commit the crimes.
According to the defense lawyer Martinho Nombo, a former municipal police commander whose testimony was quoted by
the accusation, denied at court having ever seen Lelo at the village in Buco Zau where he allegedly met the co-accused
soldiers on July 12, 2007 , while Lelo’s employer confirmed he had been working within the Malongo compound on the same
day. Human Rights Watch interviews with Martinho Nombo, Cabinda, March 2009.
For example: “Detention of journalist Lelo is not arbitrary, says Attorney-General” (Detenção do jornalista Fernando Lelo não
é arbitrária, diz PGR), Rádio Nacional de Angola/ Angop, January 7, 2008.
ICCPR, art 14 (1).
Human Rights Watch interviews with local journalists (names withheld), March 2009.
Human Rights Watch interview with Fernando Lelo at Yabi prison, Cabinda, March 16, 2009.
23 Human Rights Watch | June 2009
Human Rights Watch has argued that the court’s verdict was delayed until after Angola’s
parliamentary elections on September 5-6, 2008, in order to avoid potential damage to the
ruling party MPLA’s electoral campaign in Cabinda.
While Lelo and the FAA soldiers convicted along with him were tried before a military court,
current detainees charged with state security crimes in Cabinda have had their cases signed
by the civilian prosecutor and so will be brought before a civilian court. This is a step forward.
Nevertheless, Human Rights Watch research found that other current detainees have been
denied basic due process rights, even when transferred after varying periods in military
custody, to the civilian prison of Yabi and presented to the criminal investigation police and
the public prosecutor.
Human Rights Watch has documented a number of procedural irregularities in the judicial
proceedings against two groups of detainees, both arrested in January 2008.
international human rights standards, evidence obtained under duress, such as
interrogations under torture, must be considered inadmissible in judicial proceedings.
However, in both cases, records of the criminal proceedings show that lawyers were denied
access to military and intelligence interrogation files quoted by the prosecution as evidence.
In one case, interrogation files were classified as “secret,” according to the Law on the
Secret of the State.
By withholding essential information to the defense and failing to
dismiss evidence alleged to have been obtained by coercion and torture, the prosecutor
violated international principles guaranteeing a fair hearing.
In addition, military
intelligence officers who were called for questioning during the investigation by the defense
failed to show up during the criminal investigation and at court.
In one case, the defense
objected to the public prosecutor’s conclusion that there were “strong indications of a
Human Right Watch, “Angola–End Torture and Unfair Trials in Cabinda”, Human Rights Watch news release, December 10,
Human Rights Committee General Comment 20, para 12.
Law on the Secret of the State (10/02) from August 16. See Objection to the Judges Counselors of the Chamber for Crimes
against the Security of the State of the Supreme Court, regarding the process 490-C/08 of the public prosecutor against Luís
Geraldo Barros and others, presented by lawyer Francisco Luemba, Cabinda, January 31, 2009.
Human Rights Committee General Comment 13, para 15.
Objection to the Judges Counselors of the Chamber for Crimes against the Security of the State of the Supreme Court,
regarding the process 490-C/08 of the public prosecutor against Luís Geraldo Barros and others, presented by lawyer
Francisco Luemba, Cabinda, January 31, 2009; Objection to the Honorable Judge of the Common Crimes Chamber of the
provincial court in Cabinda regarding the process 0470-C/08 of the public prosecutor against Natalício Mbatchi and others,
Cabinda, presented by lawyer Arão Tempo, Cabinda, March 27, 2009.
“They Put Me in the Hole” 24
linkage between the accused and the FLEC FAC guerrillas,” simply because several known
guerrilla members “have relatives in that particular village.”
The Cabinda public prosecutor and two of the three judges in the civil judiciary previously
served as military magistrates in other provinces before being appointed in Cabinda in 2006.
It is not uncommon in Angola for military magistrates to occupy posts in the civilian
judiciary—the Attorney-General himself is a former military magistrate. But rights advocates
credibly fear that, in national security cases, these judges will not show sufficient
independence from the government to provide fair trials. Indeed, a senior military official
told Human Rights Watch that previous civilian magistrates in Cabinda had been replaced in
2006 because they “never managed to convict anybody” for crimes against the security of
There are some cautious grounds for hope for fairer trials in national security cases. A judge
in Cabinda on May 7, 2009 cited lack of evidence and the principle of in dubio pro reo to
acquit four men on national security charges, while sentencing one man for a minor
The public prosecutor challenged the judge’s sentence at the Supreme Court,
which has not yet issued a ruling. Lawyers have expressed hope that the verdict, if upheld by
the Supreme Court, may reflect a willingness by judges to act independently and impartially
in national security cases.
However, with more upcoming trials of the remaining
detainees—all with a far lower public profile than Fernando Lelo—and as-yet unconfirmed
reports that more arrests for national security crimes have occurred in April 2009, concerns
about the due process rights of detainees in national security cases in Cabinda remain.
Objection to the Judges Counselors of the Chamber for Crimes against the Security of the State of the Supreme Court,
regarding the process 490-C/08 of the public prosecutor against Luís Geraldo Barros and others, presented by lawyer
Francisco Luemba, Cabinda, January 31, 2009.
Human Rights Watch interview with senior military official (name withheld) in Cabinda, March 17, 2009.
See Verdict of the Provincial Court of Cabinda, Cabinda, May 7, 2009.
Human Rights Watch phone interview with Arão Tempo, May 7, 2009, and email correspondence with Francisco Luemba,
May 8, 2009.
25 Human Rights Watch | June 2009
The report was researched and written by a Human Rights Watch researcher. It was edited by
Jon Elliott, advocacy director of the Africa Division; Rona Peligal, deputy director of the Africa
Division; Iain Levine, program director; and James Ross, legal and policy director. Jeffrey
Severson, associate of the Africa Division, provided production assistance.
Human Rights Watch acknowledges with gratitude the contribution provided by lawyers,
journalists, human rights activists, members of churches, national and international
organizations, officials of the government, military, police and judiciary, and detainees who
agreed to be interviewed for this report. We own special gratitude to those individuals who
gave us invaluable and unfailing support during our research on the ground and follow-up.
We also thank NOVIB for the funding that made this research possible.
“They Put Me in the Hole” 26
Annex: Persons Held for Security Charges at Yabi Prison
António Santos Nguimbi–soldier in the Angolan Armed Forces (FAA), arrested on September
9, 2007 in Buco Zau. Sentenced by the provincial military court on September 16, 2008 to 13
Lourenço Ila Dembe–FAA soldier, arrested in Buco Zau on September 17, 2007. Sentenced by
the provincial military court on September 16, 2008 to 13 years in prison.
sergeant in the FAA, arrested on September 18, 2007 in Cabassango (Buco
Zau municipality). Sentenced by the provincial military court on September 16, 2008 to 13
years in prison.
Alberto João Chimbinda–FAA soldier, arrested in Cabassango (Buco Zau) in September 2007.
Sentenced by the provincial military court on September 16, 2008 to 13 years in prison.
corporal in the FAA, arrested in Buco Zau on September 22, 2007.
Sentenced by the provincial military court on September 16, 2008 to 13 years in prison.
José Fernando Lelo–employee of Algoa and former VOA journalist, arrested at the Cabinda
Gulf Oil Company compound Malongo on November 11, 2007. Sentenced by the provincial
military court on September 16, 2008 to 12 years in prison.
Sebastião Sambo–catechist, arrested in Tando Malele (Inhuca commune, Buco Zau) on
January 24, 2008.
Carlos José Sambo–arrested in Tando Malele on January 24, 2008.
João Domingos Mabete–traditional leader and deputy village coordinator, arrested in Tando
Malele on January 24, 2008.
Paulo Simão–arrested in Tando Malele on January 24, 2008.
Luís Geraldo Barros–traditional leader, arrested in the village of Conde (Inhuca commune,
Buco Zau) on January 29, 2008 .
João Paulo Mombo–teacher and coordinator of Micuma I (Buco Zau), arrested in the village
of Micuma I on April 2, 2008.
Joao Baptista Maeia–employee of Encica, arrested in Micuma I on April 2, 2008.
Zacarias João Zau–arrested in Micuma I on April 2, 2008.
Marcos Lúbuca Malila Tovo–arrested in Micuma I on April 2, 2008.
27 Human Rights Watch | June 2009
Joaquim Valentim Culebi–arrested in Micuma I on April 2, 2008.
Armando Muabi–arrested by the Agence Nationale de Renseignement (ANR) in Buendi
Kassanfu, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), on October 7, 2008.
Próspero Bianga–arrested by the ANR in Buendi Kassanfu, DRC, on October 7, 2008.
João Alfredo Dumbi–arrested by the ANR in Buendi Kassanfu, DRC, on October 7, 2008.
João de Deus Deu Muanda–arrested by the ANR in Tshela, DRC, on October 14, 2008.
César Déneri Dunge–arrested by the ANR in Kimbadi Kuimba, DRC, on October 19, 2008.
José Fernandes Jorge–arrested in Dinge (Cacongo) on October 20, 2008.
Cornélio Mabiala–arrested in his home in Cabinda city on October 28, 2008.
Clemente João Mavungo–coordinator of Cossuenda, arrested in Necuto (Buco Zau) on
January 2, 2009.
Paulo Mavungo–teacher, arrested in Sassa Zau Velho (Buco Zau) on January 7, 2009.
Rafael Futi–arrested in Sassa Zau Velho on January 7, 2009.
Alexandre Fundo–arrested in Sassa Zau Velho on January 7, 2009.
Massota Vunda–arrested in Liambo-Lione (Cacongo) on March 26, 2009.
Alexandre António Fortunato–arrested in Liambo-Lione on March 26, 2009.
Francisco Linda Luemba Panzo–arrested in Liambo-Lione on March 26, 2009.
Luís Massiti Gomes–arrested in Liambo-Lione on March 26, 2009.
João Baptista Puati–village coordinator, teacher and pastor, arrested in Liambo-Lione on
March 26, 2009.
Previous Known Detainees
Custódio Nguimbi Sumbo–1
sergeant in the Angolan Armed Forces, arrested in Buco Zau in
September 2007. Acquitted by the provincial military court on September 16, 2008.
Natalicio Mbatchi–arrested in Sevo da Vula (Necuto, Buco Zau) on January 16, 2008.
Sentenced on May 7, 2009 by the provincial court to one year and six months in prison, and
João Mateus Luemba–nurse, arrested in Sevo da Vula on January 16, 2008. Acquitted by the
provincial court on May 7, 2009.
“They Put Me in the Hole” 28
Elias Menos–arrested in Sevo da Vula on January 16, 2008. Acquitted by the provincial court
on May 7, 2009.
Garcia David António–arrested in Sevo da Vula on January 16, 2008. Acquitted by the
provincial court on May 7, 2009.
António Zau–arrested in Sevo da Vula on January 16, 2008. Acquitted by the provincial court
on May 7, 2009.
HUMAN RI GHTS WATCH
350 Fifth Avenue, 34
New York, NY 10118-3299
H U M A N
R I G H T S
W A T C H
Sentencing of Fernando Lelo and six
soldiers, Cabinda, September 16, 2008.
© 2008 Cristóvão Luemba
“They Put Me in the Hole”
Military Detention, Torture and Lack of Due Process in Cabinda
While the intensity of armed conflict in Angola’s oil-rich Cabinda enclave has declined since 2004, sporadic
separatist guerrilla attacks have continued, despite a peace agreement signed by the government and a faction
of the armed opposition in 2006. This report gives new first hand, field-based information on a disturbing pattern
of official abuse—arbitrary arrest, lengthy incommunicado detention, and torture in military custody—of people
suspected of involvement in rebel attacks.
Between September 2007 and March 2009, at least 38 persons were arrested by Angolan military and intelligence
officials in Cabinda and eventually charged with state security crimes. While all were eventually brought to a
civilian prison, most were initially subjected to torture and other ill-treatment in military custody and denied basic
due-process rights. The report provides further detail on the high profile case of Fernando Lelo, a former Voice of
America correspondent convicted of national security crimes in September 2008, but also draws attention to
several other cases that have attracted much less public attention.
In this report Human Rights Watch urges the Angolan government to adopt all necessary measures to ensure that
the armed forces act in accordance with Angola’s obligations under international human rights and humanitarian
law. The government should review proceedings against detainees currently or previously held for state security
crimes, investigate allegations of human rights violations, and prosecute alleged perpetrators. The government
should also set up an independent and impartial inquiry into human rights violations committed by the Angolan
armed forces and intelligence services in Cabinda.
Chevron Alternative 2008 Annual Report 21
Agostinho Chicaia is the president of Mpalabanda. Amnesty
International released a statement forcefully condemning the
ban, stating, “Amnesty International considers [Mpalabanda’s]
members to be human rights defenders... Its closure will leave
Cabinda, an area rife with egregious violations of human
rights, without a human rights organisation to monitor
and record violations of human rights.”
outcry followed, universally
acknowledging the peaceful and
vital work of Mpalabanda.
CHEVRON IN CABINDA
Statement by Agostinho
Chicaia, Extinta Mpalabanda
Associação Cívica de Cabinda
(MACC), Cabinda, Angola
Discrimination is rampant
in the treatment given to
Cabindan vs Luandan—or the
remainder of Angolan employees.
We believe that in the last two
years, Chevron has required the
compulsory transfer of many
personnel to Luanda. Angola’s
General Labour Law requires that
employees be compensated for expenses related to transfers,
including “expenses related to the employee himself or the
family members for whom the employee is responsible.” We
believe that Chevron has adhered to this law only in the case
of non-Cabinda employees. This transfer process to Luanda
is extremely precarious. It has been dividing and destroying
families, as the Cabindan transferred employees’ earnings are
not enough to cover the costs incurred for their families.
There have been murmurs and claims all over: we hear
shouts of indignation and revolt from employees or members
of the communities against Chevron’s way of doing things.
CHEVRON HAS BEEN IN ANGOLA since the 1930s,
when Texaco began marketing there. In 1958 Cabinda Gulf
Oil Co., Chevron’s Angolan subsidiary, drilled its ﬁrst well.
The company has dominated oil production in Angola ever
since. Today, Chevron has four Angolan concessions, the
most important of which are the massive offshore Benguela
Belize–Lobito Tomboco and the $3.8 billion Tombua-Landana
projects. Also in 2008, construction
began on a 5.2 million-metric-ton-
per-year liqueﬁed natural gas plant.
Angola is the second-largest oil
producer in sub-Saharan Africa and
the world’s seventh-largest supplier
to the United States. Yet its health
indicators are some of the worst
in sub-Saharan Africa, sixty eight
percent of the population lives
below the poverty line, and 28%
live in extreme poverty.
Chevron operated in Angola
when it was a Portuguese colony,
through a bloody 14-year armed
struggle to independence in 1975,
and through a 27-year brutal civil
war ending in 2002, which left
as many as one million Angolans
dead, 4.5 million internally
displaced, and another 450,000 as
refugees. Since the end of the Civil
War the government has remained
rife with corruption, such that
Transparency International ranks
it as one of the most corrupt governments in the world, and
Amnesty International describes its human rights record as
“poor” and “plagued” by serious problems.
Cabinda is the heart of Angola’s oil production. The
twenty-four-hour oil operations there are, as lawyer and
journalist Daphne Eviatar writes, “what ﬁnanced the
government’s army during a civil war ... And they’re the most
obvious sign of the West’s relentless tentacles reaching into
In 2006, the Angolan government banned Mpalabanda
(Associação Cívica de Cabinda), the only human rights
organization operating in Cabinda. The group focused not only
on abuses by the government, but also by the oil companies.
Luanda, Angola 2006
III. Around the World
CHEVRON IN ANGOLA
22 Chevron Alternative 2008 Annual Report
center there, but these projects are very far from the real
problems, concerns, and needs of the communities. Chevron
prospers and enriches itself, while the local communities
get poorer and poorer, more and more miserable, more and
more vulnerable. The very little that Chevron does that is
not done unilaterally, without considering the opinions and
the priorities of the communities. They don’t walk the talk,
considering what they preach themselves. There is neither
dialogue nor are there objective partnerships or common
goals between themselves and the communities. Cabinda does
not in any way reﬂect the oil-producing giant that generates
scandalous amounts of money for the Angolan government as
well as Chevron itself.
Chevron says that it recently created a Social Responsibility
team to mitigate daily criticisms and to create an internal forum
to discuss issues related to social responsibility, environmental
problems, health, and safety. But, thus far, these efforts are
unproductive, and civil society monitoring capabilities are not
yet up to the task.
What the Communities Want
We ﬁnd that extractive industry practices in Cabinda only
stress and deepen poverty levels, for Chevron pollutes and
destroys the environment, accentuates social injustice, stops
development, and sows frustration. As such, local communities
and the Cabindan people demand more social, environmental,
and economic responsibility on Chevron’s part and for
themselves. Environmental organizations such as Gremio ABC
speciﬁcally demand that Chevron ﬁnally replace its old leaking
Mpalabanda-Cabinda Civic Association, illegally abolished
by the Cabinda Court of Justice as ordered by the Cabinda
Provincial Government (and mandated by the Presidency of
the Republic Military House), has always held that there was
excessive pressure over the oil exploration in Cabinda, which
prepared the ground for successive oil spills. It was absurd to
deplete all the Cabinda reserves today only to inherit serious
environmental problems tomorrow. Mpalabanda demanded the
development of an independent environmental impact study to
determine the marine resources contamination levels. It asked
the Angolan Government to regulate the basic environmental
laws and the capacity building of the local structures for a joint
monitoring of the oil exploration activities in Cabinda with
Employees’ rights are simply violated, ignored, and denied;
there is discrimination in the workplace, particularly over
wages. The employees’ Trade Unions encounter a number
of difﬁculties in exercising their role, as Chevron does not
allow it. Collective bargaining is not welcomed. Many times
employees are unfairly terminated, in total violation of their
rights. Furthermore, there is no distinction between human
rights and politics, so talking about human rights is considered
a provocation to the government. Standing up for your rights is
considered being ungrateful or lacking respect. Dialogue does
not exist, and when they talk about “dialogue,” it is to simply
communicate decisions already made or to seek pretexts to take
actions, because anything you say may be used against you.
The local communities do not derive any real beneﬁts
from activities undertaken in their geographical areas. The
communities’ quality of life and living standards continue to
deteriorate. The environment has been increasingly degraded.
The impact of the pollution has been trivialized by Chevron,
particularly with the successive oil spills in Cabinda. No
independent environmental impact study has been produced
to evaluate the present state of our beaches, the deteriorated
mangroves areas, the affected ecosystems in the sea, on the
earth, and the transfer to rivers.
In a rare government action in 2002, Chevron was
ﬁned $2 million by Angola’s Ministry of Fisheries and the
Environment for oil spills from its platform that polluted
beaches and damaged the local ﬁshing industry. A government
investigation found that leaks from poorly maintained pipes
used to transport crude oil from the platform were the cause of
the spills. With most oil spills, however, we ﬁnd that Chevron
will deny responsibility and accuse operators in neighbouring
countries. On the few occasions when Chevron has accepted
responsibility, we have found the number of barrels of oil
spilled was generally below 50 in order to avoid being penalized
under Angolan law. To indemnify the ﬁshermen, the main
victims, Chevron dictates the indemniﬁcation value without
proper serious and transparent negotiation.
What Chevron Says
Lately, Chevron has carried out some projects to beneﬁt
the communities. Chevron builds one school here, a medical
“The solution? As a last resort, discontinue Chevron’s oil exploration in Cabinda,
as it is the mother of our disgrace, bringing poverty, environmental problems, and
—Agostinho Chicaia, Angola
Chevron AlLernaLive 2009 Annual ReporL 23
Chevrcn in AnçcIa
Kristin Peed, author, Crude Existence: Environment and The Politics oI Cil in Northern Angola and
Elias Mateus Isaac, Cpen 5ociety Initiative Ior 5outhern AIrica, Angola
!!!. Arcund the WcrId
“Chevron is the biggest polluter of the
environment (seas, lakes, ﬂora) in Cabinda ...
Chevron has given very limited attention and
provided minimal investment to protect and heal
the environment in Cabinda.”
~Chevrcn cfhciaI in Cabinda, ApriI 2010.
CHLVRON lS 1HL LARCLS1 FORLlCN producer of
Angolan oil. In 2010, it will extract 580,000 barrels of oil per
day from offshore Blocks 0 and 14.
Producing 1.78 million
barrels per day, Angola brieﬂy eclipsed Nigeria as Sub-Saharan
Africa’s largest oil producer in August 2009.
31% of its crude to the U.S. and Chevron plays a major role
in Angolan oil exports with a 39.2% interest in the Malongo
Terminal Oil Export project.
A Crude History
Chevron’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Cabinda Gulf Oil Com-
pany, pioneered exploration activitie s before Angola achieved
independence from the Portuguese. Chevron boasts of con-
ducting Angola’s ﬁrst seismic operations in 1954, drilling its
ﬁrst onshore well in 1958, and discovering its ﬁrst offshore oil
and gas ﬁelds in 1966 and 1971, respectively.
Yet all of these
activities occurred in Cabinda, a Portuguese protectorate dis-
tinct from the Angolan colony. Many Cabindans claim Angola
illegally annexed the oil-rich territory and they blame Chevron
for ﬁnancing the Angolan government’s repressive hold on
Cabinda ever since.
Oil revenues largely ﬁnanced Angola’s bloody internation-
alized civil war until 2002. Despite the ongoing war, Chevron
steadily increased offshore production. In 1997, Chevron
began developing Kuito, Angola’s ﬁrst deepwater well. By 2009,
Chevron introduced “one of the largest man-made structures
on earth” designed for maximum daily production rates of
100,000 barrels per day in 2011.
Abusing Human Pights
Since Angola’s annexation of Cabinda in 1975, Cabindans have
sought autonomy, some supporting militant movements for
independence. Today, some 30-40,000 Angolan troops are sta-
tioned in Cabinda, committing egregious human rights abuses
against the civilian population of 400,000, including forced
labor, rape, beatings, torture, summary executions and politi-
Elias Isaac and Albertina Delgado oI Cpen 5ociety traveled to Cabinda in
April 20!0 to conduct interviews oI Cabindan ñshers and Chevron oIñcials.
All non·sourced quotes are derived Irom these interviews.
Journalist Lara Pawson reported that in
2008,“Cabinda appears more militarized than parts of Angola I
visited during the height of the civil war.”
Security forces arbitrarily detain Cabindans “suspected of
involvement in armed opposition.” Between September 2007
and March 2009, 38 such persons were subjected to torture
and cruel or inhumane treatment, deprived of due process
rights, and denied a fair trial.
Many detainees are human
rights and environmental campaigners. A recent wave of
“suspects” taken into custody in 2010 included human rights
lawyer Francisco Luemba, Catholic priest Raúl Tati, and other
members of the banned Mpalabanda Civic Association, which
elucidated Chevron’s role in undermining human rights in
The Angolan government uses military force in Cabinda
to quash protest and secure resource-rich territory. Chevron
is indirectly linked to Cabinda’s militarization by supplying
billions of dollars in oil payments to a repressive and opaque
government. Improved transparency could help channel oil
monies to social services and poverty reduction, rather than
corrupt elites or repression.
Dangers to Environmental and Human Health
Chevron’s oil exploration and production activities—including
seismic tests, drilling, offshore disposal of drill cuttings and
produced water, fracturing and water ﬂooding activities,
pipeline leaks, accidental oil spills, and use of chemicals such as
dispersants—devastate human and environmental health.
Oil spills are the most visible negative impact of Chev-
ron’s operations offshore. Chevron reports 182 accidental
spills between 1990 and 1998, releasing 5,984 barrels of oil
into Cabinda’s artisanal ﬁshing grounds.
According to one
ﬁsher, “The uncontrolled oil spill also poses a big threat for the
survival of ﬁshing communities who constantly see their liveli-
hoods threatened with no work to do or means to adequately
and decently sustain their families.”
Kwanza, Anqolan Currency
Chevron AlLernaLive 2009 Annual ReporL 24
Chevron delivers compensation in an uneven and
opaque manner, favoring wealthier registered ﬁshers over
informal day laborers and entirely disregarding the wider
affected population, including women ﬁsh traders.
ﬁsher recalled, “In 2000, when Chevron destroyed a ﬁsh-
ing habitat and a lake near Landana, only 14 ﬁshermen
were compensated in a total population of about 2,500
people who directly and indirectly depended on ﬁshing.”
Overlooked community members sought indemniﬁcation
in the courts. Yet, one claimant lamented, “The amounts
are so little and insigniﬁcant compared to the losses that
the communities have suffered. There are still court cases
of some ﬁshermen against Chevron which have never
been resolved because a lot of people who have or are
being affected by the spills and pollution have been delib-
erately not considered.”
When oil spills occur, Chevron often fails to alert
Worse yet, some say Chevron relies on
security forces to quell community demands—or uses
chemical dispersants to mask spills before ﬁshers can
make claims to compensation. As one ﬁsher recalled,
“This year, after another big spill occurred, the local com-
munity tried to organize a demonstration against Chevron’s
practices, but the security forces quickly prevented it. Chevron
has been a bit more careful of informing the local communi-
ties whenever an oil spill takes place and the cleaning of the
seas is promptly assumed.” Unfortunately, the use of chemical
dispersants in “cleaning” operations may be more dangerous to
human and environmental health than oil alone.
The state of repression and underdevelopment in Cabinda
may beneﬁt Chevron by limiting liability and compensation
claims. An anonymous Chevron ofﬁcial admitted, “Chevron
is the biggest polluter of the environment (seas, lakes, ﬂora)
in Cabinda and because there are no independent bodies or
civil society organizations capable and efﬁcient to monitor [the
company], most of the spills go unreported and unheard of
with the exception of those detected by local ﬁshermen. Chev-
ron has given very limited attention and provided minimal
investment to protect and heal the environment in Cabinda.”
One resident of a community near Chevron’s operations
agreed, “Though there is widespread discontentment in the
community, there have never been any public complaints
against Chevron [because] the majority of the population are
illiterate or have low education and do not know their rights.”
Cabinda’s artisanal ﬁshers depend on the waters in Block 0 for
their sustenance and livelihoods, but few recognize the dangers
of oil production beyond oil spills—like eating ﬁsh that have
bioaccumulated high levels of methylmercury from exposure to
Flare Abatement: Finally
Chevron’s commitment to reducing ﬂaring in Angola is most
welcome. Chevron holds a 36.4% ownership interest in
Angola Liqueﬁed Natural Gas, a multi-billion joint venture
to produce 5.4 million metric tons of exportable LNG.
creasing prices and rising demand for cleaner fuels in the U.S.
encouraged Chevron to seek a proﬁt on associated gases rather
than burn them at the wellhead. Nevertheless, Chevron and
other oil companies operating in Angola continue to ﬂare most
of the gas. Of the 355 billion cubic feet of gas produced from
Angolan ﬁelds in 2008, 69% was ﬂared or vented, 23% was
reinjected, and 8% went to domestic consumption.
abatement and gas reinjection are long overdue for environ-
mental and human health.
In 2004, the Angolan government allowed Chevron to publicly
disclose a $300 million payment for extension of the Block 0
concession. The transparent moment was short-lived; Angola
still refuses to sign the Extractive Industries Transparency Ini-
tiative (EITI). The challenge of EITI not only reﬂects Angola’s
intransigence but also reveals Chevron’s lack of political will
to promote transparency and become more accountable to the
The challenges are great: communities neighboring Chev-
ron’s oil base at Malongo lack electricity and running water.
Some residents acknowledged, “Chevron has some good social
assistance programs for the population” and rattled off a few
projects. Others criticized Chevron for prioritizing social initia-
tives used as political propaganda by the government or ruling
party and refusing funding to civil society organizations.
Demands Ior Chevron
Chevron’s contributions to development and minor attempts at
transparency do little to offset the direct harm the corporation
has inﬂicted on human and environmental health in Cabinda
or the indirect damage to human rights and democracy in An-
gola. We implore Chevron to take the following actions:
Repair faulty, outdated infrastructure contributing to
environmental degradation; Cease all ﬂaring of associated gases
at the wellhead; Educate communities on environmental and
human health concerns associated with activities; Report all
risks to environmental and human health (e.g., spills) to com-
munities immediately; Distribute compensation to all affected
parties in a transparent and equitable manner; Support basic
human rights and the development of non-partisan civil society
in Angola; Publish all payments to the Angolan government;
Lobby for the U.S. Energy Security through Transparency Act
of 2009 (S. 1700); and Implement fair practices to promote
hiring of local personnel.
Pescadores da Laqoa de Massai, Cabinda
AI Index: AFR 12/006/2006 (Public)
News Service No: 203
4 August 2006
Angola: Human rights organization banned
Amnesty International is gravely concerned about the ban of Mpalabanda (Associação Cívica de Cabinda),
a human rights organization operating in Cabinda, Angola.
In a case instituted by the Angolan government against Mpalabanda, the Provincial Court of Cabinda
ruled on Thursday 20 July that Mpalabanda should be banned. Mpalabanda is appealing against the
decision, which was apparently based on the Law of Associations of May 1991 (Lei das Assosiações de
Maio de 1991).
Mpalabanda is the only human rights organization operating in the province of Cabinda. Amnesty
International considers its members to be human rights defenders. The organization has been involved in
the documentation of human rights violations committed by both the government and members of the
Front for the Liberation of the Cabindan Enclave (FLEC). Its closure will leave Cabinda, an area rife with
egregious violations of human rights, without a human rights organisation to monitor and record violations
of human rights.
Amnesty International is particularly concerned about the effect of the court ruling on Mpalabanda's and
human rights defenders' freedoms of association and expression, and consequently, their ability to carry
out human rights monitoring and evaluation. These freedoms are contained in the Constitution of Angola,
the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights, to which Angola is a party. Under international human rights law, no restrictions may be placed on
the exercise of the right to freedom of association, other than those prescribed by law and strictly
necessary in the interest of national security, public safety, public order, public health and morals or the
protection of the rights and freedom of others.
While Amnesty International recognises the government's right to restrict the operations of organizations
in the circumstances mentioned above, the organization urges it to ensure that this is done only when
strictly necessary and in accordance with the Angolan national and international law.
Amnesty International calls upon the government to respect and protect the enjoyment of the right to
freedom of association and expression.
In addition the organization urges the government to fulfil the principles contained in the Declaration on
the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and
Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental
Freedoms. This Declaration recognizes the right of all, individually and in association with others, to
promote and strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the
national and international level.
Mpalabanda was created in July 2003 in terms of the Law of Associations of May 1991 (Lei das
Assosiações de Maio de 1991) and was officially registered in December 2003. In March 2004 the
organization was allowed to hold its first meeting after two consecutive refusals by the provincial
government to allow a meeting to take place. Since then it has been refused permission on several
occasions to hold meetings and marches to commemorate Cabinda Day.
In 2004 FLEC, the Catholic Church, and Mpalabanda set up the Cabinda Forum for Dialogue (Forum
Cabindese para o Dialogo, FDC) to enter into dialogue with the government for peace in Cabinda.
According to reports, on Monday 19 June 2006, Agostinho Chicaia the president of Mpalabanda was
summoned to court (tribunal da comarca de Cabinda) where he was issued with a copy of a government
application to ban Mpalabanda. The application alleged that Mpalabanda incited violence and hatred. It
also accused Mpalabanda of carrying out political activities rather than being a civil society organization.
The organization was given ten days to submit a responding affidavit, which it submitted within the given
On Thursday 20 July the Court decided to ban the organization. Mpalabanda was informed of this
decision on Monday 24 July.
There is no mention in the judgement that Mpalabanda promoted violence and hatred. Nor were any of
the cited witnesses called to give evidence to this effect.
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