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Angola

Key Developments

» Internet “crime” bill would restrict newsgathering, social media.

» Arrests, assaults, obstruction climb, limiting coverage of corruption.

Youth-led and social media-fueled protests demanding reform challenged President José Eduardo Dos Santos, who marked 32 years in power. Parliament, controlled by Dos Santos’ MPLA party, considered legislation to “combat crime” in information and communication technology. The bill, pending in late year, would stiffen penalties for defamation and would criminalize electronic dissemination of “recordings, pictures, and video” of any individual without the subject’s consent. In nationally televised remarks targeting citizen journalists, Dos Santos lashed out at the use of the Internet to organize “unauthorized demonstrations to insult, denigrate, provoke uproar and confusion.” (One YouTube user called Kimangakialo posted more than 150 clips of protests.) In the same April address, Dos Santos claimed journalists enjoyed unfettered freedom to criticize his leadership. But CPJ research shows that security forces assaulted, detained, and obstructed independent journalists covering protests and official functions. Powerful public figures and officials used security forces and the courts to settle scores with reporters investigating allegations of abuse of power, corruption, or misconduct. Two journalists, Armando José Chicoca and William Tonet, were sentenced to prison over their critical coverage; they were free on appeal in late year. José Manuel Gimbi faced intimidation from security forces while reporting from the militarized, oil-rich enclave of Cabinda. Denial-of-service attacks targeted the exile-run websites Club-K and Angola24horas, taking them off-line in October.
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  • 25

    Attacks, 2011
  • 8

    Years prison penalty
  • 2

    Independent newspapers
  • 2

    Independent broadcasters
  • 10

    Killed since 1992
 

CPJ research charted a significant rise in attacks on the press in 2011. Cases of assault, censorship, detention, and threats jumped more than three-fold over 2010. Many involved journalists covering anti-government protests.

Attacks over time, according to CPJ research:
 

The pending Internet bill proposed a stiff penalty for those “who without consent provide, transmit, make available, or distribute recordings, films, and photographs of another person through a system of information.” At least four existing laws criminalize journalistic activities.

Restrictive laws:
1886: Colonial-era penal code set a six-month prison penalty for defaming officials.
2002: State Secrecy Law imposed a two-year prison penalty for possession of official documents deemed sensitive.
2006: Press Law allowed courts to suspend media outlets for a year.
2010: State Security Crime Law set a two-year prison penalty for "words, images, writings, or sound insulting" to the president or official institutions.

 

Officials of the ruling MPLA, their family members, and businesses aligned with the party have controlling interest in all but two of Angola's private newspapers, according to CPJ research.

2 independent papers:
Agora
Folha 8

7 papers supportive of MPLA:
O Pais
Expansão
Exame
Angolense
A Capital
Semanário Angolense
Novo Jornal

 

In addition to controlling the national public broadcasters, officials of the ruling MPLA controlled all but two private radio stations, according to local journalists.

2 independent stations:
Radio Ecclésia
Radio Despertar                     

8 stations supportive of MPLA:
Rádio Nacional de Angola
Televisão Publica de Angola
FM Rádio LAC
FM Radio Comercial de Cabinda
FM Radio 2000
FM Radio Morena
Rádio Mais
TV Zimbo

 

Ten journalists have been killed for their work in Angola over the last two decades, according to CPJ research. Many of the deaths occurred during the country's 27-year civil war.

A breakdown of fatalities since 1992:
7: Journalists murdered
2: Journalists killed in crossfire
1: Journalist killed on a dangerous assignment
0: Arrests in the killings


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