DFN logo
 Home  About  Voices  Press  Alerts  Support  Contact

Africa | Americas | Asia | Europe | Mideast | Pacific | Archives

 
SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA
 

Angola mapAngola cracks down on war reporters
by the Media Institute of Southern Africa

(May 7, 1999) As Angola continues to fight its long and bloody civil war, the country’s government has clamped down on freedom of the press. In the analysis below, the Media Institute of Southern Africa, a non-governmental organization that promotes an independent media in southern Africa, describes the recent struggles of one Angolan newspaper.
   
 
Edited and published with permission by Index on Censorship, Lancaster House, 33 Islington High Street, London, N1 9LH, United Kingdom. Tel: +(44-171) 278-2313. Fax: +(44-171) 278-1878. E-mail: contact@indexoncensorship.org.
 
 

On April 6, 1999, the director of the Luanda-based weekly newspaper Folha 8, William Tonet, was subjected to interrogation for several hours at the Criminal Investigation Department (DNIC) of the Angolan police, in connection with charges laid by the military attorney’s office.

An Angolan newspaper is accused of publishing articles that endangered state security.

The journalist told the Media Institute of Southern Africa-Angola that on April 3, a notification for the hearing was delivered to his office requesting his presence at DNIC for investigation. He was then interrogated for several hours by an officer who, among other things, wanted him to reveal his sources in the army and “the names of the generals who provide military information to Folha 8.” As Tonet resisted the pressure, the police agent then tried to intimidate him by saying that Folha had committed a crime against state security as its articles and editorials had “put the country’s sovereignty in danger.”

According to Tonet, the military attorney has made several allegations against his newspaper. He has been accused of inciting young men against enlisting in the army, defamation, insult, slander against the good name of Angolan officials and army generals, instigation of rebellion inside the army, and the publishing of false and dangerous information with the intent to provoke a crisis of authority inside the army.

Tonet denied the charges and argued that his paper had been issuing articles and editorials about the military service and the renewed war since December 1998 and had, on many occasions, emphasized that everybody, without exception, should serve in the army in a clear reference to government officials and army generals who were busy sending their sons abroad to escape military duty. “It has never been my intention to discourage the response to military service, otherwise I wouldn’t tell my son to join the army,” he said.

One Folha 8 journalist, Rafael Marques, was called for interrogation in April for writing an article called “Cannon Flesh” for the January 20, 1999 issue. Another of the paper’s writers, Pascoal Mukuna, may also be called very soon in connection to the case before it proceeds to the Attorney General’s office for the final round of hearing sessions. Tonet said, “this time I will struggle to get the court [to dismiss] the formal charges so that we restore the truth and our reputation.”

In 1998, the Angolan Government announced a compulsory call-up of young men born between 1978 and 1979. In January 1999, Folha 8 reported that the government wanted to ban independent radio stations and newspapers whose output was thought to discourage young men from enlisting in the army.

The DNIC routinely conducts interrogations such as that experienced by Tonet, in an attempt to explore and build up a case before formal charges are laid by the Attorney General’s office.

 
Edited and published with permission by Index on Censorship, Lancaster House, 33 Islington High Street, London, N1 9LH, United Kingdom. Tel: +(44-171) 278-2313. Fax: +(44-171) 278-1878. E-mail: contact@indexoncensorship.org.
 
RELATED MATERIAL
  • Civil war in Angola: Background on the decades-long conflict (May 7, 1999)
  • Cannon flesh: A Folha 8 reporter was interrogated after publishing this article criticizing the Angolan civil war (May 7, 1999)
RELATED SITES

Africa | Americas | Asia | Europe | Mideast | Pacific | Archives
Home | About | Voices | Press | Alerts | Contact | Support

Unless otherwise noted, all material copyright © 1999 Digital Freedom Network. All rights reserved.