Target: Attorney General Joao Maria de Sousa of Angola
Goal: Drop all criminal charges on investigative journalist and human rights defender Rafael Marques
Ever since the publication of his book “Blood Diamonds: Corruption and Torture in Angola,” investigative journalist and human rights defender Rafael Marques experienced constant harassment by officials throughout the nation. Instead of the investigating the truth of these accusations, the Angolan government would rather silence the journalist by throwing him in jail. Currently the journalist faces 11 criminal charges of defamation.
Rafael Marques has unearthed several cases of human rights abuse and corruption in his country, and most of the cases are featured on his blog. Government officials have found the defamation laws useful in silencing those who do investigative reporting on high ranking politicians or uncover something the nation wants to hide. These laws greatly undermine freedom of speech and allows the government to operate in corrupt ways. Marques and his lawyer have already attended a hearing at the National Directorate on Criminal Investigation Action in the nation’s capital, but both were unable to view the evidence brought against Marques. The plaintiffs on the case are high ranking Angolan generals, three of which were former chief of staff for the Armed Forces. All 11 charges of defamation come from Marques’ book which details 100 accounts of abuse committed by military and security forces in the diamond rich area of Lunda Norte. Research for the book was conducted between the years 2009 and 2011.
While the country Angola has freedom of speech, there are other laws that undermine its power. Because of the vague formation of speech laws, high ranking officials and politicians are able to prosecute journalist who have published works on human rights abuse and corruption ridden organizations. Many journalists and writers are afraid to publish their work for fear of being punished or prosecuted. Rafael Marques states that he has long been harassed for his work. His blog has experienced several attacks by hackers, files on victims were stolen from Marques’ luggage when he was at the airport, and his computer was targeted with a customized malware, preventing him from communicating with his lawyers and other organizations.
Marques has done everything that an investigative journalist should do, and while he is exposing the truth about abuse and violations, he is unfortunately being targeted by it. The defamation charges are simply a way to silence this human rights defender and it is obvious that the plaintiffs in the case are feeling threatened by Marques’ book. Sign this petition and urge the attorney general of Angola to drop the charges.
Dear Attorney General Joao Maria de Sousa of Angola,
I demand that you drop the defamation charges on Rafael Marques. I suspect that the charges were brought upon the journalist because high ranking military officials feel threatened by his book. As you may know the book “Blood Diamonds: Corruption and Torture in Angola” chronicles 100 cases of human rights abuse and violations committed by military and security forces. It is highly unlikely that the accusations are false since Marques must have conducted extensive research to get his data. I believe that the charges are meant to silence the journalist. This man has been harassed severely for his work, with hackers attacking his computer and sending malware to prevent communication between his lawyer and other organizations, to stealing case files from Marques’ own luggage. It is obvious that more than one person wants him to stop his work.
This man is doing what every good journalist does. He is investigating and he is reporting. Your country has freedom of speech and yet you are allowing a journalist – who relies heavily upon this right – to be prosecuted. Do the right thing and drop all charges.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Peter Van Buren via WeMeantWell.com