Angolan security forces tasked with implementing COVID-19 restrictions killed at least seven people between May and July 2020, according to a new investigation by Amnesty International and Angolan rights organization OMUNGA. The victims were all boys and young men, and the youngest victim was just 14 years old. The organizations believe the true death toll is likely to be much higher.
Through interviews with friends and relatives of seven victims, as well as eyewitnesses, Amnesty International and OMUNGA have pieced together details about the killings. Angolan security forces have repeatedly used excessive and unlawful force when dealing with breaches of state of emergency regulations imposed to control the spread of COVID-19.
“The stories we heard from relatives and eyewitnesses are harrowing. One teenage boy was shot in the face while he lay injured; another was killed when police fired on a group of friends practicing at a sports field. A state of emergency is no excuse for such outrageous human rights violations,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for East and Southern Africa.
“There must be a thorough, independent, impartial, transparent and effective investigation into these killings, and perpetrators must be brought to justice in fair trials. There must be proper oversight to ensure that Angolan security forces comply with international human rights standards when enforcing COVID-19 prevention measures.”
Amnesty International and OMUNGA were able to verify the killings of seven boys and young men by security forces. They received multiple eyewitness accounts of the police’s use of excessive force and firearms, which often targets disadvantaged communities. All the killings took place in poorer neighbourhoods. Both Angolan National Police (Polícia Nacional de Angola – PNA) and Angolan Armed Forces (Forças Armadas Angolanas – FAA) officers are suspected to be responsible.
On the evening of 13 July, José Quiocama Manuel, a motor taxi driver known as Cleide, was shot dead by police while he was on his way to a friend’s house in the Prenda neighbourhood of Luanda municipality. According to witnesses, at around midnight people in the neighbourhood started shouting that the police were coming. Cleide and Maurício, a 16-year-old boy, tried to hide, but a police officer fired at them. Maurício was shot in the shoulder and survived, but Cleide died instantly.