Free speech boosted in Angola

2013-02-13 19:19
Rafael Marques

Rafael Marques

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Johannesburg - Angola received a boost to its free speech from the Portuguese courts, which refused to allow Angolan generals to stop the publication of a book exposing corruption and human rights abuses in the southern African country's lucrative diamond mines.

Portuguese prosecutors this week threw out a libel suit against a book that alleges Angolan generals own a diamond company and a security firm that carried out killings and the torture of workers toiling in the southern African nation's mines.

The dismissal of the challenge, brought against Angolan writer Rafael Marques and his publisher over his book Blood Diamonds: Corruption and Torture in Angola, represents a free-speech victory for a nation where the government has long been accused of corruption and mismanagement of oil and diamond riches.

While the challenge played out in Portugal, Angola's former colonial ruler, Marques said the court case could have bankrupted and effectively silenced him while frightening others investigating government corruption.

"Their belief was being very rich and very powerful, especially within the Portuguese economy where they have made massive investment, they would have create the situation by whereby I would not be able to afford a lawyer to defend myself," the author told The Associated Press on Wednesday. "They thought by putting me in a situation of poverty, I would not have been able to afford the cost of justice."

Mining company Sociedade Mineira do Cuango and security firm Teleservice-Sociedade de de Telecomunicacoes, Seguranca e Servicos filed the complaint against Marques and publisher Tinta-da-China after the book was published.

The book linked the generals to the companies, which Marques allege carried out about 100 killings and tortured hundreds of others with the aid of soldiers and weapons supplied by military armouries.

On Monday, the Lisbon Attorney General's office issued a ruling that said it decided the book falls within the scope of legitimate use of a legal right - freedom of expression and information - which is constitutionally guaranteed.

The prosecutor said since there was no public crime committed in its view, it wouldn't bring charges against Marques and his publisher.

Corruption and mismanagement

Officials with the two companies could not be immediately reached on Wednesday by the Associated Press.

President Jose Eduardo dos Santos' government is accused of corruption and mismanagement of oil and diamond riches. His party is the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola, or MPLA, which won the August election.

Angola was a Cold War battlefield for 27 years, with Cuban soldiers and Soviet money supporting dos Santos' MPLA and South Africa and the United States backing Unita. Half a million people died in the war, more than 4 million - a third of the population - were displaced and much infrastructure was destroyed.

Since the war ended in 2002, Angola has dominated the list of the world's fastest growing economies and is sub-Saharan Africa's second-largest oil producer, after Nigeria. Oil-backed credit lines from China - Angola is China's No 1 oil supplier and its second biggest importer is the United States - have fuelled a building boom of houses, hospitals, schools, roads and bridges.

Average life expectancy has gone up from 45 in 2002 to 51 in 2011.

But 87% of urban Angolans live in shanty towns, often with no access to clean water, according to Unicef, and more than a third of Angolans live below the poverty line.

Meanwhile, human rights activists accuse government and military officials of looting their country's oil and diamond wealth.

Read more on:    jose eduardo dos santos  |  angola  |  southern africa

Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24

When is a mountain more than just a mountain? 2014-12-18 07:26

When it’s an adventure! A group of Old Mutual employees found out how much is enough courage, endurance and camaraderie to take on Africa's highest peak.


Five wrapping hacks you have to know before Christmas

Five gift wrapping hacks that will save Christmas for you!


I love summer.24

Sexiest Instagrams of 2014
Joburg hot spots for cocktails, craft beer, tapas and wine!
Summer Survey!
Great ideas for the best summer sandwiches!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go! - shop online today

Grand Theft Auto 5

Now available on PS4, Xbox One and PC from R649. Buy now!

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Save on Samsung

Cameras, mobile phones, TVs, Tablets and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at While stocks last. Shop now!

30% off the bestselling books

Save big on the most captivating reads of 2014. While stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25


The energy today is serious, materialistic and hardworking. You may find you get a new outlook on things and you may want to more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.