Johannesburg, South Africa - Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Monday urged Angola’s attorney-general to immediately drop all criminal defamation charges against investigative journalist Rafael Marques de Morais, because 'they undermine free expression rights.'
In a statement issued here, HRW said the Angolan government should repeal the country’s criminal defamation laws – the basis for the charges.
According to the New York-based group, the 11 lawsuits brought against Marques – Angola’s most prominent investigative journalist, human rights defender, and anti-corruption campaigner – are the latest attempt by Angolan officials to silence his reporting.
Marques has exposed a range of high-level corruption cases and human rights violations in his blog, and pursued sensitive investigations into human rights violations in Angola’s diamond areas.
“Angola has found its criminal defamation laws very useful to try to squelch reports about corruption and human rights violations,” Leslie Lefkow, deputy Africa director at HRW, was quoted as saying. “Angola should be investigating these reports of serious human rights violations instead of trying to silence the bearers of bad news.”