OPEN LETTER - The Republic's Attorney-General - Cabinda case

REF: OM/ __ 213 __ /10
LOBITO, 26th August 2010

C/C: His Excellency the Judge, President of the Constitutional Court - LUANDA
His Excellency Mr. Ombudsman - LUANDA
His Excellency the President of the Bar Association - LUANDA
His Excellency, UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression - GENEVA
His Excellency UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders - GENEVA
To His Excellency

The Republic’s Attorney-General


Best regards.

The organization OMUNGA is seriously concerned to hear about the indictment made by the Office of the Republic’s Attorney-General, in Cabinda, through the Public Prosecutor, His Excellency Mr. André Gomes Manuel, against the citizen António Paca Pemba Panzo.

According to the above mentioned indictment, dated of 11th August 2010:

"1st - Prior to the arrest, the defendant belonged to the Reflection Group and organized a manifestation to protest against the arrest of his fellow-citizens Belchior Lanzo Tati, José Benjamin Fuça, André Zeferino Puati and Barnabé Paca Peso, taken to Yabi’s prison unit. For that purpose, the defendant manufactured t-shirts with the faces of the above men with a star in the middle and the following writing in the back – “The truth shall set you free”, John 8:32. These t-shirts were intended to be distributed among Catholic Church members linked to Lubunduno during the manifestation.

2nd - The referred manifestation, which was deterred by the authorities, would have taken place on 11th April 2010 under the auspices of the organizations OPEN SOCIETY and OMUNGA. Its purpose was to request a fair trial for the detained men, as well as to start a truthful dialogue to find a peaceful solution for the Cabinda problem.

3rd - In face of subversive evidence related to the manifestation, the Police ordered a search of the defendant’s residence (…)

8th – (...) As a result of the actions describe above, the defendant is guilty, as a material actor, of crimes against state security, in conformity with article 26 of Law 7/78, of May 28.

According to what was previously exposed, OMUNGA demands the urgent intervention of His Excellency, the Republic’s Attorney-General, in the referred process in light of the following:

1 – The indictment contains reference to the fact that the defendant organized a manifestation, which is a legal and constitutional action, included in Section I, Chapter II - entitled BASIC RIGHTS, FREEDOMS AND GUARANTEES—of the Angolan Constitution.

2 – It is contradictory that, on one hand, it takes into account that the “manifestation protesting against the arrest of the fellow-citizens Belchior Lanzo Tati, José Benjamin, André Zeferino Puati and Barnabé Paca Peso” had the objective of “requesting a fair trial for the detained” and “requesting a truthful dialogue to find a peaceful solution for the Cabinda problem” and, on the other hand, it indicts that there is “subversive evidence related to the manifestation”.

3 – Trying to link OMUNGA with “subversive” actions and with “crimes against state security”.

We would like to take this opportunity to remind Your Excellencies that OMUNGA’s involvement, or non-involvement, in the above mentioned manifestation should be solely understood as an act of respect for and application of Recommendation 104, made during the process of the Universal Periodic Review of UN’s Human Rights Council, which was accepted by the Angolan state. “To pursue an open dialogue with human rights defenders, in particular in Cabinda, where, in the aftermath of the recent deplorable attack on the Togolese football team, human rights defenders are reportedly being detained without evidence as to their complicity”.

The Judge, President of the Constitutional Court, has already expressed publicly his concerns about the fact that provincial governments have been illegally forbidding the occurrence of manifestations. We should understand that, in this case, the prohibition to march on the 11th April 2010, on behalf of the government of the province of Cabinda, should be interpreted as one of the examples mentioned by His Excellency the Judge, President of the Constitutional Court. This way, the fact that organizing the manifestation in Cabinda has been presented as a material fact for indictment shows a legitimation of the violation of Law 16/91 of 11th May, entitled LAW ON THE RIGHT TO REUNION AND MANIFESTATION, and of the Constitution, on behalf of the Office of the Republic’s Attorney-General.

At the same time, OMUNGA urges His Excellency the Judge, President of the Constitutional Court, to issue his judicial decision in relation to the facts hereby presented and to the constitutionality of article 26, abundantly mentioned, of Law 7/78.

Finally, OMUNGA requests the urgent intervention of Your Excellencies, UN Special Rapporteurs on Freedom of Opinion and Expression and on Human Rights Defenders, with the Angolan State as a way of demanding that the state respects and protects basic rights, freedoms and guarantees, in particular human rights defenders. On the other hand, it is necessary to demand the scrupulous compliance of the recommendations accepted by Angola during the Universal Periodic Review.

We are aware that His Excellency the Republic’s Attorney-General will give due importance to the referred subject. Please accept our best regards.

José A. M. Patrocínio

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