Group urges release of Angolan activists

2010-02-24 09:37

HUMAN Rights Watch yesterday called for the immediate release of

human rights defenders jailed in Angola following the deadly attack on Togo’s

football team before the Africa Cup of Nations.


The US-based group said the detentions were politically motivated,

and accused the Angolan military of coercing false confessions over the January

8 attack that left two dead.


“The Angolan government has an obligation to investigate and

prosecute those who attacked the Togolese team,” said Georgette Gagnon, Africa

director at Human Rights Watch.


“But arresting outspoken human rights defenders in Cabinda suggests

the government is using the attack to target its peaceful critics.”


“There is no evidence that the police have conducted a forensic

criminal investigation into the attack,” she said in a statement.


Eight people are in custody in Cabinda, six allegedly for crimes

against state security. Among them are known human rights campaigners and

government critics, including priest Raul Tati, university professor Belchior

Lanso Tati and respected Cabindan lawyer Francisco Luemba.


Another two men, Antonio Pauti and Daniel Simba, are being held in

direct connection with the attack. They were arrested from their village close

to where the shooting happened near Cabinda’s border with the Republic of

Congo.


Human Rights Watch claims Pauti and Simba have been mistreated by

the military and forced to confess to the shooting, which was claimed by

separatist movement FLEC (Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda),

who have been waging a low level guerrilla war in the province for

decades.


Arrested shortly after the attack, the pair have now been in

custody without charge for more than 45 days, exceeding the legal limit in

Angola, the group said.

 

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