Ref.: OM/050/10
Lobito, 19 March 2010

Cc: President of the Republic of Angola – LUANDA
Minister of Justice – LUANDA
Attorney General – LUANDA
President of the African Commission for Human and Peoples’ Rights
U.N. Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing – GENEVA
U.N. Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders – GENEVA
U.N. Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Speech – GENEVA
Ambassadors accredited in Angola – LUANDA

Mr. Provincial Governor of Benguela

Subject: March against demolitions and forced evictions

The association Omunga acknowledges receipt, on 18 March 2010, of your letter dated 17 March 2010, under No. 0000 1007 (in annex), about the same subject as the one we are referring to, and informing that the march organized by Omunga on 25 March 2010 shall not be carried out, on the basis of the interpretation of Laws 16/91 and 17/91.

According to Article 7.1 of Law 16/91, Law on the Right to Reunion and Demonstration, you, as Benguela Province Governor, had up to 24 hours to respond negatively, in case some irregularities would be verified concerning the organization of the march. You did not do so in the imparted delay, given that we received your letter at the physical address of our association only on 18 March 2010, that is respectively nine and seven days after we give entry to our letters at the Provincial Government of Benguela on 9 and 11 March 2010.

For this reason, your recommendation stating that “the march shall not be carried out” looses any legal impact and application.

Furthermore, we would like to remind that Omunga is an association and not a group, as you referred to. According to Art. 13 of Law 14/91, Law of Associations, the association Omunga has got a legal status, because:
1. A public writing was published in the Government Gazette;
2. A public writing about its creation was filed in the Ministry of Justice;
3. A copy of the Government Gazette that published the creation writing was handed out to the Republic Attorney General;
4. Mr. Attorney General never did any legal declaration extinguishing the association.

For this reason too, your recommendation stating that “the march shall not be carried out” looses any legal impact and application.
You mention that Law 17/01, of 11 May 1991, together with Law 16/91, give you the arguments to decide and recommend to Omunga not to carry out a march that is programmed, at the date, time and place planned. We would like to remind that Law 17/91 is a Law on State of Siege and State of Emergency. Therefore, in this case, it does not provide you with any legal argument to do this type of recommendation, given that there is no declaration at this time saying that exists in Angola a State of Siege or State of Emergency.

For this reason too, your recommendation stating that “the march shall not be carried out” looses any legal impact and application.

If we continue to analyze and interpret the other arguments that you present in your letter dated 18 March 2010, we could easily show that your recommendation stating that “the march shall not be carried out” looses any legal impact and application, since:
1. Time: According to Art. 5.2 of Law 16/91, despite it defines that processions cannot take place before 7 p.m. during working days, should be considered as an exception “situations duly justificated”. It seems to us that carrying out a peaceful march on 25 March 2010, from 3 p.m. on, in accordance with the subject described in this letter and all precedent communication, is more than enough to be considered as a justification for exception. On 25 March, it will be three months that the demolitions in Graça Area – Benguela, took place.

We remind that the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights concluded in its General Comment No. 4 (1991) that “instances of forced eviction are prima facie incompatible with the requirements of the Covenant” to which Angola is part and that it should respect.

The Committee added in its General Comment No. 7 (1997) that “owing to the interrelationship and interdependency which exist among all human rights, forced evictions frequently violate other human rights. Thus, while manifestly breaching the rights enshrined in the Covenant, the practice of forced evictions may also result in violations of civil and political rights, such as the right to life, the right to security of the person, the right to non-interference with privacy, family and home and the right to the peaceful enjoyment of possessions.”

Therefore, your argument stating that organizing the march at 3 p.m. “will disturb the peace as well as the rights of individual and collective persons in the exercise of their work or leisure activities”, seems to minimize the seriousness of the subject that the march precisely pretends to call attention about, denunciate and demand the end of.

2. Route: According to Art. 4.3 of Law 16/91, the competent authorities may prevent the organization of meetings or demonstrations in public places located at less than 100 meters from military forces’ or militarized camps and settlements.
Thus, the argument stating that the passing of the march at less than 100 meters of a Police Operative Unit must be prohibited for security reasons looses effect, given that a police unit is neither a military unit nor is militarized.

For all these reasons, Omunga considers as illegal your recommendation and, therefore, while continuously respecting the law, will organize the march on 25 March 2010, from 3 p.m. on, along the way already presented and asks anew that Your Excellency give orientations to the administrative and police entities, so that they help and guarantee the participants’ protection.

The use of force by military, militarized, police or other means to try and prevent or repress the march will be of your responsibility and that of Mr. President who, from this letter, should take the necessary measures so that no obstruction be made to the march.

Finally, we would like to inform that this letter will be immediately made public and translated into English.

Yours Sincerely.
José António Martins Patrocínio

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