The National Police Force
The police force in Angola is a paramilitary body which falls under the control of the Ministry of the Interior, and is structured at both a national and provincial level. The mission of the National Police Force is to:
- enforce law and order;
- execute police duties while respecting human rights and freedoms;
- protect private and public property;
- prevent, detect and investigate crime; and
- defend the country and ensure its security.
The police force is composed of specialised units, including: Border Control Police, Fiscal Police, National Crime Investigation Directorate, National Public Order Directorate, National Road Traffic Directorate, National Economic Investigation Directorate, Protection Unit, Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) Police, and Weapons and Explosives.
Oversight of the police is conducted both internally and externally, with internal mechanisms involving command inquiries and disciplinary procedures to deal with complaints involving arbitrary arrest and detention as well as allegations of torture. The effectiveness of such mechanisms, however, remains questionable.
In terms of external oversight, the Judicial Proctorate (Ombudsmand) is the entity responsible for monitoring public bodies, including the police. Chapter VI of the Constitution of the Republic of Angola establishes the Judicial Proctorate, an independent body mandated to ‘defend the rights, freedoms and guarantees of citizens ensuring by informal means the justice and legality of the public administration’. Private citizens are allowed to file complaints directly with the Judicial Proctorate relating to acts or omissions by the police, who is empowered to make recommendations to resolve the complaint; public bodies party to the complaint are required to provide full cooperation to the Judicial Proctorate.
While the Judicial Proctorate appears to be effective in theory, reports allege the independence of the Judicial Proctorate is in jeopardy, with appointments being made ‘according to political loyalty’ and ‘subject to political influence’, and with investigations being opened and closed under specific directives by the President. Accordingly, arbitrary arrest and detention, incidents of torture and extra-judicial killings by the police force are rife and often go unpunished.
Angola does not have an independent human rights commission, however, the National Assembly has established a human rights commission to receive complaints from members of the public involving human rights abuses. Accordingly, this parliamentary commission is empowered to conduct visits to places of detention, to hold hearings on issues relating to human rights, and to constitute commissions of inquiry into acts and omissions by the government and its administration.
In addition, the courts can be used as a mechanism of oversight, as well as the Human Rights Unit of the Ministry of Justice. It is important to note here, however, that the effectiveness of the court system is compromised by poor infrastructure, facilities and poorly trained personnel.
Lastly, the role of non-governmental organisations (NGO) cannot be underestimated, with various NGOs having played a critical role in holding police to account, including Associaco Justica, Paz e Democracia (Justice, Peace and Democracy Association), the Anti-militaristic Angolan Initiative for Human Rights, and the Commission for Justice, Peace and Reconciliation in Angola.
- Interpol: Connecting Police for a Safer World. Country Profile: Angola. Available at: http://www.interpol.int/Member-countries/Africa/Angola. <Accessed on 30 March 2016>.
- African Policing Civilian Oversight Forum (2005) An Audit of Police Oversight in Africa: Angola, p 7.
- Constitution of the Republic of Angola, Chapter VI, Article 142(1).
- Constitution of the Republic of Angola, Chapter VI, Article 142(2), 144.
- Bertelsmann Stiftung, BTI (2016). Angola Country Report. Gütersloh: Bertelsmann Stiftung, 2016. Available at: https://www.bti-project.org/fileadmin/files/BTI/Downloads/Reports/2016/pdf/BTI_2016_Angola.pdf. <Accessed on 30 March 2016.
- African Policing Civilian Oversight Forum (2005) An Audit of Police Oversight in Africa: Angola, p 8.
|Angola||Research Publication||2016||Bertelsmann Stiftung, BTI 2016 — Angola Country Report.||Source (PDF)|
|Angola||Human Rights Report||2015/2016||Amnesty International Country Report for Angola 2015/2016||Source|
|Angola||Communication to ACHPR||2012||Communication to the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights by the Centre for Human Rights on behalf of David Mendes||Source|
|Angola||Research Publication||2010||Amnesty International submission to the UN Universal Periodic Review||Source (PDF)|
|Angola||State Report||2010||Angola’s 2nd Periodic Report to the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, 1999-2010||Source (PDF)|