MY TAKES ON THE ANGOLAN JOURNALIST RAFAEL MARQUES DE MORAIS SUSPENDED JAIL TERM

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By: Lin Collins

If the cock would not crow at dawn does that mean that man would not wake up? And if a neighbour does yawn, would it mean his eyes are heavy? “This is not going to end here. It’s a victory for treachery and ill-faith and it just prove the generals were aware of the abuses in the region…” an excerpt from Journalist Marques de Morais.

It is rather in despicable to see a fellow good man, given a suspended jail term. Why? He exposes the ill-manners of top officials. If the society we claim we live in is fighting for goodwill, the exhibition of the rule of law and justice, irrespective of the authority involved, then we have just begun rescinding to the days where democracy did not prevail. If the claim that what is he’s (Marques) done is a slander, then there should be evidences. Yes of course there should be one. The whole case of Marques centred on his 2011 book, Blood Diamonds: Corruption and Torture in Angola, which detailed more than 100 killings and hundreds of cases of torture allegedly perpetrated by security guards and soldiers in the diamond fields of the Lundas region. It argued that seven generals who co-own a private security company involved in many of the abuses were criminally responsible, prompting them to sue. If you are not comfortable with a particular behaviour, why then would you still put it up? Now even if it’s fictional thing or a rumour, mind you, there is an atom of truth in every rumour.

Moreover, the rule of law has not being fully allowed to operate. Yes! How can a judiciary run a court ruling without potential proofs on which the accused would be held accountable for? How possible is that? “…I was convicted without any body of evidence.” In this our age where democracy and the rule of law are to dine together, now there is a separation. You (Adriano Cerveira, the Judge) sentence someone without legitimate and substantial evidences and yet you call it legal. For the fact that you (Angola) are part of a Union or Association, you should be able to live by the rules. Or do I have to remember someone that when in Rome, Romans doing should prevail? If the country Angola would not take a second look at what has been done, I am afraid as there is Indirect Rule, there would be Indirect Dictatorship also. Of course a little drop of water makes a mighty Ocean. If it starts from Marques de Morais, why would it not continue? “The way in which the Angolan judicial system manipulated this case, from the very outset, shows the brazen extent to which the Dos Santos government will go to criminalise freedom of expression” grieved Africa programme officer at the Robert F Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights. Why would these things be allowed in the first place, if there is a rule of law and in their constitution there is freedom and expression, then it should be utilized fully not partially or better still overshadowed? It is an insult to other upcoming journalist or ordinary citizens. They would not feel protected. If the very people who are suppose to interpret the laws of the land are twisting it, who else would be in good position to do that?

In addition to that, it would diminish the faith the people of Luanga and Angola as a whole have in their legislation. Upcoming investigative journalist would fear most. Rafael Marques de Morais described the sentence as a blow to freedom of expression in the southern African country: “It’s sending a message that ‘we can lock you up, including Rafael. We can send him to jail any time we want.” Why on earth things like this would be allowed to happen. The simple thing is Africa as a whole sometimes fails to recognize the little things that build up responsible and accountable governance. If cases of Marques type would be handled like that, what would be of minor cases? Those below Marques belt of offence? The suppression of Human Right should not be taken on a lighter note. Angola is bound by the African charter on human and peoples’ rights, as well as numerous international human rights conventions. It would therefore not do things without any rule governing it. Nevertheless, what faith could the people of Luanga and Angola on the whole have in their country in terms of security? If you (Angola) are bounded by Africa charter on human and people’s rights not forgetting other international human rights convention and yet still operate in these ways, how would it be if you are not?

Finally, in personal opinions I think the Africa charter on human and people’s rights should investigate this case again and find out reasons for the Judge Adriano Cerveira would give such a sentence without the basis of evidence from the accuser(s). It would not be prudent to see this happen. It’s just a fire match stick which would set a whole place ablaze. If nothing is done about it, the assumption is that a fellow Judge in some other African country would do a similar thing. Yes, making references to this case. “After all what was done on his ruling, what happened to the country and the people who lived in it, or better still the Judge who sat on the case?” That is what a colleague or friend would ask.

It is rather unfortunate that there seems to be betrayal of trust and incompliance of common reasons. Africa should be far from these things at least. If Africa wants to grow, there should be a change of attitude and behavioural impulses. If a branch of a tree would be affected by a disease, it would probably affect the rest of the branches too. Other member states should work effortlessly to ensure that the rule of law is used by hook or crook. Africa cannot sit down to watch things been trampled upon. No!

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