New York, July 13, 2001 — Authorities in Angola detained journalist and human-rights activist Rafael Marques this afternoon for approximately one hour, according to Angolan sources.
Marques was covering the government’s forced relocation of residents from the Boavista district of Luanda to a camp in Viana (approximately 40 km outside Luanda). He, along with other journalists, followed a delegation of parliamentarians, members of the residents’ association, and the lawyer representing the Boavista residents to the settlement.
At around 5:30 p.m., police officers prevented Marques and BBC journalist Justin Pearce from photographing and interviewing the residents. The officers then took Marques into custody and drove him to the local police station, where he was interrogated by the station chief and accused of “agitating” in the camp. Pearce, who was not detained, was initially prevented by police from reporting the incident to the BBC.
Authorities let Marques go after approximately one hour, following a phone call from the local administrator requesting the journalist’s release.
During the last week, the Angolan government has forced relocation on some 13,000 families from Boavista. Though the government claims the project will improve the residents’ living conditions, local sources say it violates the residents’ rights.
Several local journalists have encountered interference by authorities while trying to cover the story.