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HRW urges Angola to respect citizen freedom of speech

Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website; press release] on Thursday released a report entitled Angola’s Upcoming Elections: Attacks on the Media, Expression, and Assembly [report, PDF] alleging that the government of Angola [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] is responsible for undermining freedom of speech protections for its citizens. The 13-page report also notes that the "political violence, intimidation of protesters, and crackdowns on peaceful demonstrations" might have a detrimental effect on the upcoming parliamentary election this month. The report summarizes recent abuses directed at activists, journalists and protesters who expressed their criticism against the government. Journalists are frequently arrested, detained and questioned for covering protests while demonstrators are denied their exercise of peaceful assembly by the country's security forces. HRW called on several entities including the government of Angola, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) [advocacy website] and the Diplomatic Community in the country to ensure the protection of protesters while respecting national and international law. According to HRW rights related to free speech should be respected and addressed without bias and prejudice, and arrests and detentions should be made pursuant to due process.

Angola has enjoyed large economic growth and increased stability following the end of the nation-wide civil war in 2002. However it was unsuccessful in addressing problems such as corruption. In early 2010 HRW called [JURIST report] on the government to increase its effort to fight corruption affecting the majority of its citizens who are not able to enjoy the improvements of the country. Angola entered a financial agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) [official website] and HRW urged the IMF and its board members, US and China, to ensure that Angola adhere to the provisions set forth by the IMF. In January 2010, the parliament of Angola approved [JURIST report] a new constitution ending the popular election of the president and replacing the interim constitution that had been in place since 1975.

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