Statement by (IHRDA) to the ACHPR at its 60TH Ordinary Session in Niamey, Niger
Follow-up on the Implementation of the Commission’s Decision in Communication 292/04, IHRDA / Angola
15 May 2017
In 2008, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights decided on the communication 292/04, IHRDA v Angola. The Commission held that Angola had violated Articles 1, 2, 5, 6, 7(1)(a), 12(4), 14 and 15 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights by allowing for the systematic arrest, detention and subsequent deportation of thousands of foreigners from Angolan territory.
The communication was brought by IHRDA on behalf of 13 Gambians who were unlawfully deported from Angola in March through May 2004. They were arbitrarily arrested, detained and then later deported without any recourse to the law. They returned to The Gambia with barely anything despite months and years of hard work in Angola. This action of the Angolan government was purportedly carried out under a State campaign entitled Operacao Brilhante apparently implemented to expel foreigners from Angolan territory, particularly in the diamond rich mining areas.
Unable to seek domestic remedies in Angola due to their expulsion, the victims approached the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. In its decision, the Commission recommended that Angola reform its domestic legal and policy framework and internal structures putting in place appropriate measures to eliminate impediments to the enjoyment of basic human rights especially for detainees. Angola was further instructed to pay adequate compensation to the victims for the harm suffered and establish a Commissions of Inquiry to investigate the circumstances under which victims were expelled.
While the Decision provided some sort of relief for the victims, this was only short-lived. Nine years after the decision was reached by the African Commission, the victims are yet to receive any form of compensation from the State of Angola. Many of the victims now find themselves struggling to find steady employment and are thus unable to provide for their families. They further complain of occasional ill-health due to the grossly inhumane conditions they were subjected to while in detention.
Angola has been unresponsive from the hearings stage as it did not even participate in the proceedings before the Commission. Angola’s refusal to implement the Commission’s decision constitutes another abuse to the victims’ rights.
IHRDA has made statements about this regrettable situation at previous Ordinary Sessions of the Commission and again still finds itself today reiterating the lack of cooperation by the State of Angola to honour the Decision of the Commission.
We therefore call on the Commission to engage the government of Angola to ensure that the Commission’s Decision is complied with. Non-compliance with the Commission’s Decision renders the communications procedure of the Commission futile and meaningless to the victims, and serves as a disservice to the effective promotion of human rights on the continent as undertaken by the Commission.