His Excellency José Eduardo dos Santos,
President of the Republic of Angola
Oslo, 6 April 2016
On behalf of the Norwegian Writers in Prison Committee and Norwegian PEN, I express grave concern at the conviction and sentencing of Domingos da Cruz, Sedrick de Caravlho, Nuno Alvaro Dala, Luaty Beirão, Hitler Jessy Chiconde and José Hata and the other activists known as the Luanda Book Club.
We are saddened to learn that 17 Angolan activists were sentenced to between 2 and 8 years in prison and fined 50,000 kwanza (around 300 USD) on Monday, 28 March 2016, for ‘preparatory acts of rebellion’ and ‘criminal conspiracy’. We call for the quashing of the convictions of these activists, as well as their immediate and unconditional release, in accordance with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Angola is a signatory.
We sincerely believe that the activists were subject to arbitrary arrest and detention. They have been denied their rights to a fair, expedient, and public trial, in direct contravention of the ICCPR and Articles 407 and 414 of the Angolan Code of Criminal Procedure.
Domingos da Cruz, Sedrick de Caravlho, Nuno Alvaro Dala, and their associates have the right to assemble peacefully to express their ideas, even if those ideas differ from the opinions of the Angolan State. The sign of a healthy government is its willingness to allow opposition, and grant its citizens their fundamental human rights.
Freedom of expression in Angola is severely restricted; laws such as criminal defamation are used to silence critics. We demand that the ongoing persecution of activists come to an immediate end. Angolans have the right to express themselves politically and protest peacefully via book club discussions or other means. Angola’s imposed restrictions on these matters constitute a serious violation of rights.
Norwegian PEN and the Writers in Prison Committee call on you to end the practice of administrative detention against activists seeking to exercise their right to freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly.
Brit Bildøen Iva Gavanski
Writers in Prison Committee
Copy: The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Embassy of Angola in Stockholm, Sweden