Reporters Without Borders and nine others international NGOs have launched a call for criminal defamation charges to be dropped against the Angolan journalist Rafael Marques de Morais.
Rafael Marques de Morais is a long-standing critic of President Jose Eduardo dos Santos and has repeatedly accused him and Angolan generals of grave human rights abuses linked to the blood diamonds trade.
The journalist is the author of the book “Blood Diamonds: Torture and Corruption in Angola", which details hundreds of cases of torture and killings in Angolan diamond-mining areas. The award-winning journalist is now facing charges of defamation relating to his book. As he explains it: "I am not officially being prosecuted for the content of the book but for having lodged a complaint against the generals for their moral responsibility in the events, and it is the state versus me."
As recalled by Reporters without Borders:
In light of the judgment of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights in December 2014 inKonaté v. Burkina Faso, it is clear that the time has come for Angola to consider repealing its criminal defamation laws. The Court ruled that imprisonment for defamation violates the right to freedom of expression and that criminal defamation laws should only be used in restricted circumstances. The judgment is binding on all African Union member states, including Angola.
Rafael Marques de Morais was incarcerated in 1999 after "calling the president a dictator and corrupt man".