Angolan union concerned by violence against journalists

Luanda – The Union of Angolan Journalists said it was worried about the recent rise in violence against reporters. One journalist was murdered and two others attacked over the past three months.

“When a journalist is targeted, the union is worried,” said Luisa Rogerio, the group’s secretary general.

“We want an investigation to determine if these crimes are linked to their work as journalists.”

No arrests have been made in any of a series of recent attacks against journalists in Angola, the oil-rich country that was recently ranked the 10th most corrupt in the world by watchdog Transparency International.

On September 5, Alberto Tchakussanga, a radio journalist who worked for a broadcaster close to the opposition, was shot and killed at his home.

The motive for the 32-year-old journalist’s killing is unknown.

According to Africano Kangombe, culture editor at station Radio Despertar (Awakening), Tchakussanga had not received any threats.

Later that month, Norberto Abias Sateko, a reporter for private broadcaster TV Zimbo, was shot and wounded.

On October 22, Antonio Manuel da Silva, a host on Radio Despertar, was stabbed in the stomach at a service station near Luanda.

Da Silva, better known as Jojo, hosts a show that is frequently critical of the government of President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, Angola’s leader for the past 31 years.

The day after Da Silva was attacked, investigative journalist Rafael Marques says he was the victim of police intimidation in the eastern region of Lunda Norte, where he had travelled to do research for a human rights report.

“A local police officer stopped the car at an intersection and he knew my name,” said Marques.

“He was very clear, he didn’t want my documents. He said, ‘It’s because of your work. We have instructions from Luanda’.”
Rogerio said she wrote to interior minister Sebastiao Martins voicing the journalists union’s concern over the incidents, but had not received an answer.

The press freedom group Reporters sans Frontieres (Reporters Without Borders) also sent Martins a letter of concern.

“The level of violence is very disturbing. The physical safety of journalists is in danger. We are alarmed by the gravity of these attacks,” wrote the organisation’s secretary general, Jean-Francois Julliard.

Angola officially protects press freedom, but the media landscape is dominated by state-run newspapers and broadcasters, and independent journalists often face constraints.

Reporters Without Borders ranked Angola 104th out of 178 countries in its 2010 press freedom index.

But the organisation said in a November 2 statement that the recent attacks on journalists were “likely to result in a lower ranking next year”.

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