Ver Angola

Society

Journalists consider themselves persecuted by the authorities and protest

A group of four journalists held this Tuesday, in Luanda, at the offices of the Attorney General's Office, a protest to denounce alleged judicial “harassment” against media professionals in Angola.

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With posters in hand, with the words: "Enough! Investigate the Prosecutors, not the Journalists"; "Journalists Don't Rob the People"; "Persecuting Journalists is Oppressing Society" and "Down with Persecutions against Journalists", Coque Mukuta, from 'Voz da América', Lucas Pedro, from 'Club-K', Jorge Neto, from the newspaper 'O Estado News', and Escrivão José, from 'Jornal Hora H', remained at the site for about an hour.

Speaking to Lusa news agency, journalist Lucas Pedro, from the information website "Club-K", notified to respond in at least three cases, said that the objective was to contest a series of cases that the Attorney General's Office, through the Criminal Investigation Service, has been doing in recent times.

"Only last month, which is the freedom of the press, several Angolan journalists in Luanda were summoned almost on the same day to respond to numerous lawsuits, all of them about defamation and libel," said Lucas Pedro.

According to the journalist, even if the facts denounced are real and "with documentary evidence, it is always [considered] public defamation and slander."

Lucas Pedro considered that freedom of the press and expression in Angola at the moment "is volatile", recalling that, initially, with the assumption of power by President João Lourenço, in 2017, "there was a certain opening at the level of the press".

"But from 2017 onwards there has been a decline of 200 percent, because press freedom has deteriorated. From the moment the state began to call in the media [created] with corruption money [.. .) its editorial lines became the same as those of TPA [Public Television of Angola], everyone sees Zimbo's editorial lines today, everyone sees what Rádio Nacional does, Angop is the most coherent organ, I admit, but the rest are to be regretted, journalism is no longer done as it should be," he said.

Asked if he fears that the organ he represents will be closed down, Lucas Pedro said he believes it will, "because the 'Club-K' has never lived up to the expectations of the State".

For his part, Coque Mukuta said that the main objective of the protest was to demonstrate to the authorities that journalists are not to blame for the problems that are happening in the country: "There are people who should be investigated, not journalists."

"We are seven journalists with lawsuits in progress at this time, to be investigated, I already have 13 criminal cases in the PGR and it is necessary for the PGR to realize that the journalistic activity, like theirs, is in good faith, we do not we are here chasing nobody," he stressed.

Coque Mukuta considered it unacceptable that the PGR continues to "hinder" the lives and work of journalists, considering that "when a journalist is intimidated, society is certainly intimidated."

Taking into account the approach of general elections in Angola, in 2022, the journalist considers that the Government's intention to "fear the populations" is greater.

"Journalists cannot speak, imagine you. This is the main objective of the Angolan authorities and as a response (...) we decided to come here to protest and tell the Attorney General's Office that we are not corrupt. corrupt, they must see the prosecutors who are involved in the processes and not the journalists", he stressed.

According to Coque Mukuta, most journalists are being prosecuted by people linked to political power, people who "manage to influence a prosecutor, [who] opens a case against the professional when he wants to."

For Coque Mukuta, freedom of press and expression in Angola "is not at all good" and the vicissitudes he lived in the past are the same as they are now.

With the closure of several private bodies in recent times, Coque Mukuta said that the population is now hostage to information "that suits political power".

"They manipulated, they received all the organs, they took all the organs hostage and now they are reaching the journalists who seem to them with greater freedom, so that they end up crushing almost all of them and that is their main objective," he said.

The journalist Escrivão José, director of 'Jornal Hora H', with more than 20 notifications, all for libel and defamation, said that he intended to alert the Government to stop the persecution of journalists.

"All these notifications are from Angolan government and are more to intimidate. When we are asked to respond we present the evidence, often the sources who give the face are called and it is all nothing more than intimidation," he said.

"We want them to investigate the corrupt rulers who have disgraced this country, those who steal money, the public purse and not journalists. I have a notification to respond on the 17th from a governor who allegedly embezzled money to supply water in a certain region and I'll be there," he said.

Escrivão José said that he has received anonymous messages with death threats several times, having already reported the fact to the Criminal Investigation Service, which guarantees that he will find these people, but "that process never went ahead".

In turn, Jorge Neto, a journalist for the newspaper 'O Estado News', said that he is the target of three criminal proceedings, which he sees as a form of intimidation of his work, but guaranteed that this will not stop the work, "that it is to train and inform communities about what is happening in the country".

In his opinion, freedom of the press and expression in the country has recently shown signs of rising, "but the latest signs" indicate that this trend has reversed.

"If we take into account the number of newspapers that circulate, the number of radios we have, and those we have are all linked to political power, there are few independent and the same with newspapers, so this is a clear sign that we have poor press freedom," he stressed.

Regarding the possible outcome of these criminal proceedings, Jorge Neto said that it is difficult to predict, "because justice in Angola is still linked to political power."

"This is still an enigma, we will continue to fight for our freedoms and rights, which is to inform," he added.

In addition to the four journalists who protested, three other professionals are being prosecuted in connection with matters published in their bodies: Mariano Brás, from the newspaper 'O Crime', Carlos Alberto from 'Portal A Denúncia' and Liberato Furtado from 'Rádio Luanda' .

Recently, journalist Francisco Rasgado was even arrested in the scope of a criminal process for defamation and libel brought by the former provincial governor of Benguela, Rui Falcão, and was later acquitted.