sábado, 7 de agosto de 2010
Angola: Detainees in Lunda Norte at risk owing to illness and
6 August 2010
Index number: AFR 12/009/2010
Angola: Detainees in Lunda Norte at risk owing to illness and
appalling prison conditions
Thirty seven members of the Commission of the Legal Sociological Manifesto of the Lunda
Tchokwe Protectorate (Comissão do Manifesto Jurídico Sociológico do Protectorado da Lunda
Tchokwe – CMJSP-Lunda), are facing serious health risks and even death, owing to the
appalling prison conditions in which they are held in the Conduege prison in Dundo, the
capital of the diamond-rich Lunda Norte province. The majority have been held there pending
trial for 16 months; most if not all, are ill, some seriously.
Amnesty International fears for the health and safety of the detainees and is calling on the
Angolan authorities to release them pending trial; to provide them with appropriate medical
treatment and to improve the prison conditions.
Most of the detainees at Conduege prison are very weak after more than a year in detention in
overcrowded conditions and chronic illnesses for which they have not received adequate
medical treatment. Their condition has been aggravated by the lack of sanitation and clean
water; as well as insufficient and poor quality food being provided. Food and drinkable water is
sent from the capital, Luanda, and often run out before new provisions arrive. Only a few of the
detainees can rely on their families for the provision food and medicines. The families of the
majority live hundreds of kilometres away in areas with poor or non existing transport
communications. Many detainees have not seen their families since they were taken to
Conduege prison in April 2009.
As a result, most detainees have been ill at regular intervals with different ailments at different
times. Most of them have been suffering from severe vomiting and diarrhoea and blood loss in
the urine and faeces, as well as malaria and pneumonia, for which they are not receiving
medical treatment. Some have hernias and some also have distended abdomens. Apparently,
only two cases have received medical treatment, albeit inadequate.
The near starvation, lack of medical treatment and the appalling conditions endured by these
detainees represent a failure by the Angolan authorities to fulfil their most basic
responsibilities under international law. Unless immediate action is taken, many of those
detained at Conduege prison could lose their lives.
Amnesty International is particularly concerned about the health of Muatxina Chamumbala,
who has been ill for some seven months and had a distended abdomen. In early July 2010 he
was taken to the Lunda Norte Provincial Hospital in Dundo where he had fluid drained from
the abdomen. After three days he was returned to Conduege prison where he remains,
reportedly very ill and not receiving medical treatment.
Amnesty International is calling on the authorities to release these detainees immediately on
medical grounds, to provide them with adequate medical care and to improve conditions of
detention at Conduege.
Most of the detainees were arrested between 1 and 30 April 2009 in several locations in the
north-eastern provinces of Lunda Norte and Lunda Sul. Four, Modesto Timóteo, Calisto
Muatunda, Bento Magimo and Zeferino Rui Muagingo, were arrested on 1 April at the police
station in Cuango as they went to deliver a copy of the CMJSP-Lunda’s) manifesto. The police
accused them of distributing pamphlets aimed at destabilizing the national and territorial
order of Angola, and reportedly beat them to obtain information about other members of the
CMJS. Some 270 people were subsequently arrested throughout Lunda Norte and Lunda Sul
provinces and briefly detained. Most were released uncharged after a few days but 34
remained in detention. Three others were arrested on 12 February 2010.
In addition, the leader of the CMJS, Filipe Malakito, was arrested in Luanda, the Angolan
capital, on 14 May 2009. He was first held Air force base in Luanda. Three and a half months
later he was transferred to the hospital prison of São Paulo where he remained for eight
months receiving treatment for his swollen legs. He is currently being held at Viana prison in
Luanda. Two other members of the CMJS who were arrested in January 2010 are also being
Another detainee, Alberto Cabaza, is reportedly ill, suffering from swollen feet and scabies for
which he is not known to be receiving medical treatment.
All the detainees have been charged with crimes against the security of the State, under
Article 26 of law 7/78, the Law of Crimes Against the Security of the State, of 26 May 1978,
amended in 1992. Article 26 states “all and every act, not foreseen in the law that puts at risk
or could put at risk the security of the state will be punishable…”
Amnesty International has repeatedly called for this provision to be repealed immediately as it
violates the principle of legality in criminal law. It is vague and does not enable individuals to
foresee whether a particular action is unlawful. It basically means that any act which the
authorities say is a crime will be a crime even if this was not stated in law at the time the act
was committed. Furthermore, it violates international human rights law and standards.
Their trial, scheduled for 12 November 2009, was suspended indefinitely on the day it started
due to a procedural irregularity. The Lunda Norte Provincial Court decided it had not
jurisdiction to try the matter and remitted the case to the Supreme Court, in Luanda. No new
date for the trial has been set. However, Zeferino Rui Muagingo was tried in May 2010 and
sentenced to four years’ imprisonment.
Amnesty International is concerned that they may be prisoners of conscience arrested and
detained for calling for autonomy for the Lunda-Tchokwe region. As far as the organization is
aware, they have not used or advocated violence.
The CMJS is a political group set up in 2007 that seeks the administrative and financial
autonomy of the former Tchokwe Kingdom, which comprises the present day provinces of
Lunda Norte, Lunda Sul, Moxico and Kuando Kubango. In 2007 they sent their manifesto the
Angola President José Eduardo dos Santos with a view to having discussions about the
autonomy of the region, but received no response. The authorities have accused the CMJS of
having a military wing but have presented no evidence to that effect. Furthermore, no military
activity had been reported in the Lunda provinces since the end, in 2002, of the civil war
between Angolan government forces and those of UNITA- The National Union for the Total
Independence of Angola.