Target: Dr. João Maria Moreira de Sousa, General Prosecutor of Angola
Goal: Overturn the sentence of a journalist convicted of criminal defamation for exposing abuse in the diamond mining industry.
A journalist has been given a six-month suspended sentence for exercising his right to freedom of expression by writing a book about human rights abuses in Angola’s diamond mining industry. Sign the petition and demand that Rafael Marques de Morais’ conviction be overturned.
After a long and arduous process, Marques believed he had finally come to a conclusion. The industry leaders implicated in the book agreed to drop the charges against him and allow him to continue his work, and Marques in return agreed not to republish the book. However, after the agreement was reached, Marques was handed a suspended sentence, with the public prosecutor arguing that the agreement constituted an admission of guilt on Marques’s part. Marques now says he believes he was tricked into the agreement; since the plan involved settling out of court, none of Marques’s witnesses were called to testify on his behalf.
Marques’s punishment consists of a six-month suspended sentence to be served over the course of two years. If at any point Marques is determined to have participated in anything the state considers criminal activity, he will be put in jail for six months. Marques–along with a number of human rights organizations–believe the sentence is meant as a threat to prevent Marques from continuing his work.
Journalistic freedom is a cornerstone of modern society, shining a light on human rights abuses and working to bring about positive change. Rafael Marques de Morais must be allowed the freedom to continue this important work. Sign the petition and demand justice for Rafael Marques de Morais.
Dear General Prosecutor João Maria Moreira de Sousa,
I am writing to express my disgust over the court ruling that resulted in a six-month suspended sentence for journalist Rafael Marques de Morais. The ruling is a clear infringement upon his right to freedom of expression, and it acts as a threat to prevent him from continuing his journalistic work. I urge you to see that justice is done and overturn Marques’s conviction.
Marques had come to an agreement out of court with those who had brought the charges against him. However, shortly after the agreement had been reached, he was handed a six-month suspended sentence for supposedly admitting guilt by coming to the agreement. This turn of events put Marques at a severe legal disadvantage since the out-of-court settlement prevented him from bringing any of his witnesses to testify in his favor.
The process by which Marques was sentenced was convoluted and unjust, and it must be addressed immediately. I urge you to overturn his conviction and allow him to continue his work free of threats and harassment.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Brian Harrington Spier