Your Excellency, President João Lourenço,
A fair society begins with citizens who are aware of their rights and duties. It is a society where respect for life is the core principle for every citizen, regardless of their social or economic status or their political beliefs. The right to life simplymust be respected. The ultimate aim of combating the spread of COVID-19 is to save lives and protect livelihoods.
We recognise the economic and social challenges Angola faces due to COVID-19 as well as the government efforts to curb the pandemic spread toprotect public health,it is also important to highlight that even in times of emergency, security forces may only use force that is necessary and proportionate to achieve a legitimate objective. Not to cause more harm than they are trying to prevent, thespread of COVID-19.
With huge concern, wenoticed that,since the state of emergency declaration in March, the Angolan security forces in various provinces have resorted to excessive, disproportionate, abusive and even lethal use of force to deal with infringements of COVID-19 prevention measures.The coercive penalties for non-compliance with the COVID-19 measures often targeted disadvantaged communities which are marginalized, impoverished or at risk of discrimination, resulting in stigma, fear and lack of trust in authorities.
The use of lethal force by the Angolan security forces between May and July 2020 causedthe killings of Mário Palma Romeu–Marito,14 years old, Altino Holandês Afonso-Hernani,15 years old, Mabiala Rogério Ferreira Mienandi–Kilson,15years old, Clinton Dongala Carlos, 16 years old, João de Assunção Eliseu, 20 years old, António Vulola-Toni, 21 years old,and José Quiocama Manuel-Cleide,25 years old.The use of lethal force in all the seven cases was unnecessary and disproportionate.
We are calling for an end tosecurity forces’use ofexcessive, disproportionate and lethal force, and for human rights abuses to be investigated with a view to urgent systemic reform. Nobody should have to fear for their life, and the Angolan government must hold to account anyone who arbitrarily deprives an individual of their rights, particularly the right to life. We believe that an effective response to a health crisis is rooted in the respect for human rights and emphasises empowerment and community engagement, including policies that build trust and solidarity.
We urge the Government of Angola to:
•Take immediate and urgent steps to ensure that law enforcement officials stop resorting to the use of excessive force as a means of punishment at any time, including for violations of COVID-19 regulations;
•Take steps to promptly, thoroughly, independently and impartially investigate theallegations of the killings of Mário Palma Romeu, Altino Holandês Afonso, Clinton Dongala Carlos, Mabiala Rogério Ferreira Mienandi, João de Assunção Eliseu, António Vulolaand José Quiocama Manuelby security forces while enforcing the COVID-19 regulationsand ensure that perpetrators are held to account;
•Adopt immediate and urgent measures to provide justice to the victims of human rights violationsrelatedto the government’s response to COVID-19, including appropriate and adequate compensation for thefamiliesof Mário Palma Romeu, Altino Holandês Afonso, Clinton Dongala Carlos, Mabiala Rogério Ferreira Mienandi, João de Assunção Eliseu, António Vulolaand José Quiocama Manuel;
•Take immediate and urgent steps to empower and support people to comply with the restrictions, including by ensuring access to public health information and by enabling people who are marginalised to meet their essential needs without discrimination.