Remarks presented by Ambassador Antonio Luvualu de Carvalho during the panel on “Perspectives on Transparency, Human Rights, and Civil Society in Angola“, on February 18, at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), in Washington, DC.
Dear Fellow Citizens,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to thank NED for organizing today’s discussion on “Perspectives on the state of Transparency, Human Rights and Civil Society in Angola”. I am honoured to be part of this panel and look forward to exchanging view points and constructive dialogue.
Again, thank you for having me.
This past November 11, 2015, Angola celebrated 40 years of Independence. To commemorate this important event, as one of the three strategic partners that the United States has in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Government of Angola participated in a series of bilaterial meetings held in Washington, DC, including the creation of a human rights dialogue which enabled us to discuss with our American partners issues related to:
- Money laundering and terrorism financing;
- Human Trafficking;
- Freedom of expression;
- Freedom of Association and Assembly;
- Freedom of Religion;
- Roles of the Police and the Justice System; and,
- Bilateral cooperation on human rights.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Since the end of the civil conflict in 2002, Angola has worked diligently to promote national unity and social inclusion. Although we have accomplished much in just 40 years of independence and 13 years of peace, we are still far from achieving our desired outcome.
For this purpose, my Government created a road map for sustainable peace and democracy reflected in the 2013-2017 National Development Plan that aims to rehabilitate, modernize, and develop social and economic infrastructure, and improve human capacity, education and skills of the population.
Due in large part to its vast mineral and petroleum reserves, Angola has been seen has a rich country. Despite this wealth, broad-based economic development still eludes most of the population and income inequality and poverty remain serious issues of concern. Once again, I say that the few years of peace and political stability should not be taken as the end of all challenges in Angola.
Accordingly, my country has undertaken important structural reforms (judicial, tax reform, decentralization of services) designed to improve public services and raise the quality of life for all Angolans.
If we look at these past 15 years we have consolidated the political and democratic institutions of our country but also have invested largely in the growth of our economy.
Under the Leadership of President José Eduardo dos Santos, the government of Angola has maintained a framework agreement with its partners permitting open discussion and information sharing on issues related to public account transparency, risks and obligations of the state holders and private organizations such as banks, money exchange units, trust funds, and insurance companies.
Key legal and regulatory framework implemented by Angola in the light of the recommendations of the International Financial Action Group, were:
- The approval of the Law on Preventing and Combating Money laundering and Financing of Terrorism;
- Presidential Decree on the Institutionalization of the Financial Intelligence Unit;
- The Law on searches and seizure of properties and the Law on international judicial cooperation in penal matters. We believe these steps will boost the Angolan banking system.
Despite these legal adjustments, including the approval of the new Financial Institutions Act, which institutionalizes the National Financial Stability Board, the Government is also aware of the importance of its implementation, a gradual process that does not end with the creation of laws, as the country moves foward and strengthens the cooperation with its partners such as the United States.
Since the achievement of peace, Angola has held regular General elections. The closest takes place next year, 2017.
As I already mentioned, this past November, while in Washington, the Angolan minister of Justice and Human Rights, Rui Mangueira, met the Assistant Secretary of State Linda Thomas-Greenfiled, under the Strategic Political Dialogue between the Republic of Angola and the United States on Human Rights to address issues such as freedom of expression (as Article 40 of the Angolan Constitution), freedom of association and assembly (as Article 47 of the Angolan Constituition), migrants and refugees, freedom of religion, trafficking of humans, police functioning and Justice, financial transparency, fight against corruption and bilateral cooperation on human rights.
To address these issues, meetings were not only held with the Department of State, but also the Department of the Treasury, the Global Financial Integrity and with some of the non-governmental organizations on human rights such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Open Society, NED and the Institute for Democracy, to engage in open dialogue on issues concerning the recent legislation Decree from June, 2012 governing associations and recent court cases widely reported in the media.
Let me be clear that the Angolan government:
- grants the promotion, protection and respect for human rights;
- acknowledges and includes human rights as an indivisible component, structural and fundamental to social development and welfare of the people;
- and there is an intensification of efforts to ensure that the human rights of our people are consistently respected.
The participation of the Angolan Civil Society is emerging with the main purpose of strengthening the role played in the country’s development. We have a significant number of local NGOs that have been working at community field level in various areas such as Health, Demining, Education and Agriculture.
A considerable number of social mobilization campaigns promoted by local NGOs with the support of international organizations such as the United Nations implementing agencies based in Angola, help to raise awareness among communities for development issues as well as increase their participation and engagement in issues to improve their living conditions. There are 301 NGOs in Angola of which 228 are Angolan and 73 International.
Until recently the country felt the need to undertake legal reform to better control the activities of the NGO’s since most of them were no longer dealing with humanitarian issues as they claimed to do and regardless of the efforts of international donors.
These actions from government were portrayed to the international community as premeditated intention to silence the civil society groups.
We want to make sure that civil society in Angola may indeed make an impact that is beneficial to the people of Angola. We don’t want to block the creation of more civil society organizations, but it is necessary to ensure rule of law is in place.
We would like to emphasize the rights and freedom by Angolan citizens notably in relation to family matters, children, the elderly and disable persons.
I want to make clear that my country doesn’t have all the solutions to the numerous challenges ahead. We continue to work with our partners both locally and abroad like the United States to foster dialogue and assist with building stronger institutions to ensure a better quality of life for the people of Angola.
I believe that we have all seen the progress that Angola has made.
Again, thank you and I look forward to your questions and comments.