47th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, May 12th-26th 2010, Banjul, The Gambia
Statement by the Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa (IHRDA) on the implementation of the decision of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights on Communication 292/2004 IHRDA/ Angola
The Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa (IHRDA) would like to repeat its call to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to follow up on the implementation of its decision in Communication 292/2004 IHRDA/Angola. IHRDA also reiterates its call to the Government of the Republic of Angola to establish a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the circumstances surrounding the expulsion of the victims in this communication and to pay them due compensation as recommended by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
In 2004, IHRDA filed a communication on behalf of Mr Esmaila Connateh and 13 other Gambians deported from Angola in March, April and May of 2004, together with an estimated 126,247 other foreigners. They were expelled under a government programme called Operaçao Brilhante, whose aim was to rid the mining areas of foreigners. The complainants alleged that they were legally resident in Angola and possessed the requisite work permits and authorisations. In the process of expelling them, they were detained under grossly inhuman conditions. They were also not afforded access to due process to challenge the legality of their arrest, detention and deportation.
The Commission found Angola in violation of several articles in the African Charter. The Commission consequently recommended that the Republic of Angola review its immigration policies and legislation, policies and structures for detention, and afford procedural safeguards to persons detained. It also recommended that Angola allow the Commission, relevant international organisations, ICRC, NGOs and concerned consulates to access detention centres, including places where non-nationals are held. The Commission finally recommended that Angola establishes a Commission of Inquiry to investigate circumstances surrounding the expulsion of the victims and duly compensate them.
Six years after the filing of this Communication, the victims are yet to see real justice from the Republic of Angola acknowledging the wrong done to them and consequent reparation.
IHRDA makes this statement today with a delegation of the victims who are here present in this auditorium. They still bear the physical and emotional scars of the abuse and torment they suffered at the hands of Angola security officials. They demand justice and reparation not only as an acknowledgement of Angola’s wrong and a consequent material benefit to assuage their suffering – they so demand as a matter of principle, because it is their right to be treated with dignity which is inviolable under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
In considering communications, the African Commission has reiterated many times that remedies have to be effective if victims of human rights violations are to receive justice. Since the filing of this Communication in 2004, the victims are yet to see any hope of justice.
IHRDA therefore urges the Commission to expedite its follow up on the implementation of its decision in this Communication. This would make the Commission’s recommendations real in the lives of these persons who have suffered violations of their rights. By so doing, the Commission would be strengthening its protection mandate by ensuring that its decisions are complied with.
IHRDA also urges the Government of the Republic of Angola to immediately establish a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the circumstances surrounding the expulsion of the victims in this Communication and make commensurate reparation to them as recommended by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
Further, given that the African Commission took note of Angola’s persistence in expelling foreigners in paragraph 87 of its decision on this Communication, IHRDA demands that the Government of Angola – as a matter of priority and in line with its obligations under the African Charter – implement all the other recommendations by the African Commission in this Communication, especially those relating to the review of its immigration policies and the treatment of persons in detention.