Angola: Pope should use influence to end threat of forced evictions

As Pope Benedict XVI visited Angola today, Amnesty International urged him to use his influence with the country’s authorities to end the threat of forced evictions and fully compensate those that have suffered such evictions.

Amnesty International’s Deputy Africa Programme Director, Michelle Kagari said:

“The Pope must call upon the Angolan authorities to take steps to end the threat of forced evictions and urge the government to fully compensate all the families that have been affected by such evictions.”

Since 2001 authorities in Angola have carried out forced evictions in the country’s capital, Luanda. Between 2003 and 2006 thousands of people were forcibly evicted from land belonging to the Catholic Church in Palanca, Sapú and Wenji Maka neighbourhoods in the Kilamba Kiaxia Municipality. The government carried out forced evictions to facilitate urban development projects and the construction of luxury housing, leaving tens of thousands living in poverty.

In some instances they forcibly evicted people from their homes so that the Catholic Church could use the land for its projects. To date, families living in these areas have not been compensated for damages incurred during previous forced evictions.

Although the Catholic Church hasn’t been involved in carrying out forced evictions since 2006, they haven’t made any firm commitment to stop this practice either.

Michelle Kagari continued:

“The Catholic Church and the Angolan authorities must provide effective remedies for those that have been affected by forced evictions. The Angolan government should further ensure that any future evictions are carried out in accordance with international human rights standards.”

Although there has been a decrease in the number of forced evictions in the country since 2006, thousands continue to live under the threat of illegal removals, and no law is as yet in place to prohibit forced evictions in Angola and there is no legal provision for security of tenure.

Other human rights violations committed in the course of these forced evictions include arbitrary arrests and detentions, torture and ill-treatment and the harassment of human rights defenders.

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