Human rights defenders (HRDs) in Angola are subjected to arrests, judicial harassment, physical attacks, threats and defamation campaigns. Freedoms of peaceful assembly and expression are limited. HRDs working on civil and political rights and journalists criticizing the government are especially at risk.
The police have routinely used excessive force against HRDs participating in peaceful demonstrations, at times injuring some of them, and placing others under arrest or detention. The level of judicial harassment against vocal HRDs and journalists calls into question the independence of the country's judiciary.
In November 2016, Parliament passed the Press Law with minimal debate, together with a new Television Law, Broadcast Law, Journalists Code of Conduct, and statutes of the recently established Angolan Regulatory Body for Social Communication (ERCA, Entidade Reguladora da Comunicação Social Angolana). The five laws constitute what the government called the Social Communication Legislative Package (Pacote legislativo da comunicação social). These laws enable tighter government control over television, radio, the press, social media and the internet, therefore severely restricting freedom of expression. The Press Law’s overly broad definition of defamation enables the government to arbitrarily prosecute HRDs and journalists who report on illegal or improper activity by officials and others.