Group accuses Angola forces of rapes

2012-05-21 12:55

Johannesburg - Angolan security forces have raped women and girls from neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo who came to Angola's diamond fields in search of work, Human Rights Watch charged in a report on Monday.

The rights group said its investigators interviewed more than 100 victims and witnesses in 2009 and 2011, hearing story after story of "sexual violence, torture, and degrading and inhumane treatment".

Most of the alleged abuse took place in grim detention facilities where migrants who entered Angola illegally are held before being expelled.

The Associated Press made repeated but unsuccessful attempts to reach Angolan Secretary of State for Human Rights Bento Bembe and two of his colleagues by phone for comment, but their phones went unanswered.

Angola has for years been conducting mass expulsions of foreign workers from its Cabinda enclave and diamond-rich Lunda Norte province. Concern about how Angola treats Congolese migrants has been raised before.

Last year, a special UN envoy, Margot Wallstrom, visited Angolan-Congolese border areas. After her visit, the Angolan government signed a communiqué with the United Nations in which it agreed to investigate allegations of rape and other abuse and ensure perpetrators were punished.

In its report, Human Rights Watch acknowledged the Angolan government's recent stated commitments to protect migrants. But, the rights group said, "the failure of the Angolan authorities to credibly investigate past abuses and prosecute perpetrators particularly of sexual violence against women ensures that justice for the victims remains the exception and impunity for perpetrators the rule."

One woman told Human Rights Watch that immigration and security officials gang-raped her and other women in the presence of their children in a jail.

"We were 18 women and eight small children in a cell," she was quoted as saying. Their attackers "shared us among them, in turns ... If you refused they beat you with whips. They raped us inside the cell and told us simply to close our eyes. The children who were with us cried a lot."

The rights group said that it documented one rape of a girl and that witnesses reported other girls had been raped.

- SAPA

Read more on:    human rights watch  |  angola  |  drc  |  central africa  |  human rights  |  southern africa
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