June 24, 2017

On June 20, 2017, the government of Angola accused investigative Angolan journalist and Director of the anti-corruption organization Maka Angola, Rafael Marques de Morais, of “outrage to a body of sovereignty and injury against public authority.” If found guilty, he could be sentenced up to six years in prison under the Angolan Law of Crimes against the Security of the State. The accusations stem from Marques’s Maka Angola article, in which he exposed Angolan Attorney General João Maria Moreira de Sousa’s illegal purchase and sale of state-owned land for personal profit.

The indictment states that as the publisher of Maka Angola, Marques is responsible for the article that allegedly violated Angolan state security. In addition to the criminal charges, Marques is also facing a civil suit from the Attorney General for abuse of freedom of the press, defamation, and injury. Marques’s colleague, Angolan journalist Mariano Bras Lourenco, republished the article in the newspaper "O Crime” and is facing similar criminal charges. As of now, both journalists have only five days to contest the accusations before a judge sets trial dates. Maka Angola’s legal advisor, Rui Verde, defended Marques’s article and stated that the Attorney General’s real estate deals “demonstrated his disregard” for the “Principle of Exclusive Dedication” clause in the Angolan Constitution, which explicitly prohibits the Attorney General from engaging in other professional activities.

This is not the first time the government has targeted Marques; in 1999, he was jailed for calling President Dos Santos a dictator in an article titled “The Lipstick of Dictatorship.” For more than two decades, Marques has been a staunch human rights defender, focused on investigating government corruption and abuses in the diamond industry. In addition to the World Movement for Democracy's Democracy Courage Tribute, Marques has earned multiple international awards for his anti-corruption investigative work. Click here to watch Marques receive the Democracy Courage Tribute at the World Movement for Democracy’s Eighth Assembly.

The World Movement for Democracy urges the Angolan government to end its harassment of Maka Angola. Join us in sharing this alert on Twitter and Facebook to demand that the Angolan government drop all charges based on Maka Angola articles! 

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