“The trial against José Marcos Mavungo had nothing to do with justice. Instead it was designed to silence him and intimidate other human rights defenders in Angola,” Amnesty International director for Southern Africa Deprose Muchena said in a statement.
“This trial is indicative of the shrinking human rights space in the country and Angolan authorities must release him and stop intimidating dissenting voices.”
Mavungo, who spent six months in pre-trial detention, was charged with “rebellion” after he was arrested on March 14 for helping to organise a peaceful demonstration against bad governance in Cabinda province. Amnesty International considers him to be a prisoner of conscience.
During his trial in August, Cabinda general sub-prosecutor Antonio Nito asked for a 12-year jail term – the maximum penalty allowed by law.
“José Marcos Mavungo was arrested solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression, association, and assembly. He should not have spent a single day in prison.
“Angolan authorities should encourage the healthy exchange of views instead of governing the country by entrenching fear and silencing government critics,” Muchena said.
Amnesty International has accused the Angolan government of becoming increasingly intolerant of dissenting views.
“Those who speak out against President José Eduardo dos Santos have been subjected to extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearance, arbitrary detention, and torture.”
Despite freedom of expression and peaceful assembly being clearly enshrined in the country’s constitution and in several international treaties Angola is a party to, violations of these rights continue to be committed on a regular basis, it says.