Angola Democracy and Rights
Democracy and rights
Over the past year, abbreviated as AGO by Abbreviationfinder, Angola has taken several important steps in a democratic direction. But major challenges remain, including corruption and judicial deficiencies.
According to the Constitution, Angola is supposed to be a democracy with multi-party systems, but in practice the same party has ruled the country for decades. In recent years, much power has gathered with the president and his family. The opposition has had little opportunity for influence and the elections have been bordered by reports of irregularities (see Current Policy).
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In 2017, the country got a new president, João Lourenço, who has shown signs of cautiously wanting to democratize the country. For some years now, for example, it has become possible for people to gather in demonstrations. Human rights organizations, which previously had difficulty working in the country due to constant harassment from the authorities, testify to a significantly improved situation and that the government is now open for dialogue.
The Angolan women have a relatively strong position in society. The legislation gives men and women equal rights and gender discrimination is prohibited (see social conditions). In 2017, the proportion of women in parliament was 38 percent. In the last year, several women have taken up leadership positions and in 2018 the country got its first female vice president. Nevertheless, Angola is ranked 125th in the World Economic Forum’s index of gender equality in 149 countries, which is mainly explained by the fact that few women have access to education.
Homosexuality was decriminalized in 2019. At the same time, rules were introduced to curb the discrimination against homosexuals, for example, it would be punishable to refuse any employment due to sexual orientation (See Calendar).
Freedom of religion prevails and is generally respected.
Expression and media
In recent years, more people dare to talk openly about sensitive topics, but a certain degree of self-censorship remains. State-owned and controlled media dominate the media landscape and laws of slander have until recently been widely used to silence critical voices.
Lourenço has emphasized the importance of a free press and urged the state media to start serving the citizens. Since 2018, more critical votes have come to light and a well-known journalist accused of throwing the regime out has been cleared of suspicion. Nevertheless, it is still a criminal offense to insult the president and government institutions.
Reporters Without Borders places Angola in place 109 in its ranking on freedom of the press in 180 countries, which corresponds to a push upwards of twelve places since 2018.
Although the law criminalizes corruption, it permeates all aspects of society. Bribery is required to gain access to public services such as school and medical care. Transparency International places Angola at 165 in its latest ranking of perceived corruption in 180 countries (see list here).
Over the past year, several senior officials from the previous administration have been arrested, including the former president’s son who is suspected of transferring US $ 500 million to an account in the United Kingdom (See Calendar). The former president’s daughter has been fired from her position as head of the state oil company.
Lourenço has shown a desire to clean up the notoriously corrupt oil sector by establishing an independent body to oversee the award of concessions.
Judicial system and legal security
The Constitution of Angola provides for an independent and impartial judicial system. However, institutional weaknesses such as a lack of courts, trained personnel and political influence are major problems affecting independence. The President appoints judges to the Supreme Administrative Court and the Supreme Court. The World Justice Project ranks Angola at 111 in its index of the rule of law in 126 countries in 2019
Major problems with impunity for security services and government representatives occurred during the previous regime. The impunity, which occurs in all classes of society, can also be attributed to the ineffectiveness of the courts, which means that many cases do not receive a judicial decision.
Angola has been a human rights ombudsman since 2005 and since 2010 a State Secretary for Human Rights issues.
Torture is prohibited but, according to reports, still exists in the police and security service.
The police force is poorly educated, undisciplined and corrupt. Human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have accused the police of murder, assault, torture, arbitrary arrests and arrests. It happens that people are imprisoned for political reasons. Many defendants have to wait a long time for a trial. The prisons are overcrowded and the conditions in them are often life threatening.
The death penalty has been abolished.
Unita members leave in protest
Members of Unita in Parliament leave a session in protest against MPLA voting through new electoral laws which, according to the opposition party, weaken the national electoral commission. Unita believes that the new laws will give the government full control over the process before the 2012 elections, for example over voting lengths, ballot papers and voting.
Thousands of people support the president in manifestation
More than 20,000 people participate in a manifesto in support of President dos Santos. The demonstration is a reaction to calls on social media to protest against the government. The calls follow in the wake of the so-called Arab Spring, which is spreading in a number of countries in the Arab world at this time.