Goals and Expected Outcomes

 
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Goals of the Report

 

  • Defend humans rights in an unequivocal and uncompromising fashion.

  • Give the victims a voice.

  • Break away from the culture of fear and impunity.

  • Denounce the maintenance of blood diamonds, in Angola, by other methods and other protagonists, with tragic human and social consequences.

  • Promote citizenship and a sense of justice

 

Expected Outcomes

 

  • Discussion, in the National Assembly, of the Diamonds Law, currently used to justify the pillaging and violence, so as to transform it into a legal instrument of protection, also protection of the interests of the local population.

  • Putting an end to practices of sadism, cruelty and humiliation by private security companies and mining operators against the people of Cuango.

  • Raising of national and international public opinion awareness on the neo-colonialist conduct of the diamond industry in Angola.

  • Adoption, by the government, of specific and public measures, for respect and protection of human life, in the diamond bearing areas.

  • Broader public discussions for the diversification of the singular economy centered on diamonds, so as to promote the creation of employment, for social and political stability of the area.

 

 

 

  Executive Summary

 

 

 

 

"Angola is a foreign country to us.

We, Angolans, are treated worse than animals"

José Bartolomeu, miner

 

This report is a follow-up to Lundas: The Stones of Death[1] (2005). It looks at the tragic impact that diamond extraction has on the lives of local populations, the institutional incentives to permanently violate human rights, the privatisation of violence, and the unchecked plundering of these resources.

 

Due to financial and logistical limitations, this work only covers the hydrographic basin of the Cuango, in other words, Cuango municipality. The first report covered a wider area, both northeastern provinces of Lunda-Norte and Lunda-Sul, of almost 200,000kmwith over a million inhabitants.

 

Cuango has a surface area of 6,818.8km2 and is situated in the south-west of Lunda-Norte province. According to official estimates, it has a population of 140,000 inhabitants. This region is notorious for illegal immigration, in the tens of thousands, because of the garimpo[2] and the resulting commerce.

 

As a traditional area for diamond extraction, Cuango is home to three major diamond-mining enterprises: the Sociedade de Desenvolvimento Mineiro (SDM), which has its headquarters in the administrative capital of Cuango; the Sociedade Mineira do Cuango (SMC), at Cafunfo; and the Sociedade Mineira Luminas, in the commune of Luremo. These three diamond companies use the security firms Alfa-5, Teleservice, and K&P Mineira, respectively, to guard their operations.

 

Upon the end of 'Operação Brilhante'[3], in February 2005, these private security firms assumed complete responsibility for combating all clandestine prospecting throughout the Cuango region.

 

In practical terms, the entire region of Cuango, with the exception of the administrative zones of the state and a few highly populated areas, can be considered a restricted[4] and protected[5] zone, according to Law nº16/94 of 7 October, which established the 'Special Regime of the Diamond-Mining Reserves Zones'. This 'regime' is also known as the Diamonds Law.

 

Moreover, in the restricted and protected zones, in accordance with article 20 nº1 of the Diamonds Law, "any type of economic activity [:] is prohibited, whatever its nature, whether industrial, commercial, agricultural, or other [:]".

 

In effect, the Government has divided Cuango into three slices and handed them to the three companies namely SDM, SMC and Luminas. In this manner, Alfa-5 hired by SDM, controls the Cuango's administrative town, with the same name; Luminas hands over the control of Luremo to K&P Mineira; and Teleservice, under SMC contract, oversees the Cafunfo sector. Thus, the security control exercised by these companies extends throughout the whole territory. The methods used epitomise the systematic violation of human rights in the name of the law and the authority granted by the state.

 

These violations have a profoundly sadistic aspect given that, in general, the behaviour of the guards of the three companies includes beating their victims on the buttocks, undressing them and making them circulate naked or semi-naked in public, as well as other rituals of humiliation. They use, as distinct instruments of torture, shovels, or the handles of shovels, clubs and machetes. In the particular case of Alfa-5, various cases have been documented in which the victims are forced to carry out homosexual acts. In one particular case, a son-in-law was forced to violate his father-in-law.

 

Forced labour at the installations and the working areas of the aforementioned diamond extraction companies has become a routine part of life for the garimpeiros. It is used as a form of punishment which is administered by these companies.

 

Similarly, K&P Mineira has a dual role in providing services to Luminas as well as
Sodiam/LKI and Ascorp. On the one hand, it uses arbitrary methods, including violence, to expel the garimpeiros from the Luminas concession. On the other hand, it protects and accompanies Sodiam/LKI and Ascorp in the management and patronage of the garimpeiros.

 

Although the Diamonds Law safeguards the practice of artisanal diamond mining, in other words, legal garimpo (Chapter III of the Law, nº16/94), for part of the local population, the Government prefers to keep them in a situation of permanent illegality.

 

Any agricultural or commercial activity in the region, like the rest of the Lundas, requires the direct authorisation of the Provincial Governor. It is well known that among the local population, there is not a single artisanal exploration licence, or a licence for the practice of subsistence agriculture. In this way, the Government stops these people from surviving without resorting to illegal methods.

 

The consequences are tragic. For example, on 20 April 2006, guards from K&P Mineira stopped Franciso Pinto from fishing in the River Lumonhe, on the basis that the river and the fish in it are also part of the SMC concession. They beat him until he lost consciousness. Óscar Neves was hit in the eye with the butt of a rifle and was whipped by Teleservice for taking care of his personal hygiene by bathing in the River Cuango. Like all the other villagers, Neves used the river to wash because of the lack of piped water in the region. However, according to Teleservice, the river "is part of the concession".

 

The law on Private Security Firms (Law nº19/92 of 31 July) prohibits, in article 4, paragraph a) private security activities involving "criminal investigation of any type".The nº2, article 4 of Law nº19/92, prohibits "activities by private security firms that come into conflict with the performance of the proper functions of the security forces and security services and the civil protection of the State".

 

These companies do not observe the special obligations, according to paragraph a) of article 15 of the same law, to "give immediate knowledge to the judicial authorities or the police of any public crime of which they have knowledge in the exercise of their functions or that is clearly being committed".

 

Moreover, paragraph b) of article 15 of the above-mentioned law, prohibits "personal performance that could be mistaken by the public for elements of the armed forces or the security services and the state's civil protection services".

 

So, the documented cases show clearly a total disrespect for the law. These businesses behave, without precedent, in an arbitrary way in detaining, interrogating and torturing citizens, as well as patrolling public roads and neighbourhoods with men in uniform who are armed for combat situations.

 

Despite their effective public relations propaganda, the diamond companies do nothing to reduce the misery of the local populations in the area.

 

Without work or other alternatives, the local people become exclusively dependent on garimpo. They are easy prey in the politics of the fight against garimpo. Such a situation is devastating the populations slowly, with the silent and silently, in complicity of international powerhouses and institutions more concerned with lucrative contracts or in getting cozy with the regime.

 

The Cuango region has the peculiarity of being under the effective control, from a military point of view, of the private security forces. This precedent represents, therefore, another type of threat to the institution of a true rule of law and a democratic Angola.

 

Moreover, the subordination of the local administration, police authorities and the military to the aims of the businesses which operate in the region, in the face of the negligence of the concessionary, Endiama, acts as a cover for senior figures of the regime who are only looking out for their own particular interests.

 

Thus, the privileged access to riches remains subject to the duality of violence and corruption. The maintenance of unchecked power by a few individuals, in the country, strives on such logic, in detriment of transparency and true democracy. So, it is time for the government to break from a political strategy dependent on violence and corruption, even if both are privatized.


 


[1] Marques, Rafael and Rui Falcão de Campos (2005), Lundas: The Stones of Death is available online at www.wilsoncenter.org/events/docs/ADDMarq.pdf

[2] Garimpo is clandestine diamond extraction. A garimpeiro is an unauthorised diamond prospector or miner.

[3] Operação Brilhante (Operation Shining) was a joint operation between the police forces and the military in order to combat clandestine mining and the illegal entry of foreigners into Angola. It began towards the end of 2003. This operation covered the provinces of Lunda-Norte, Lunda-Sul, Malanje and Bié, and, according to data provided by the Ministry of Interior, resulted in the expulsion of 256,417 foreigners who were in the country illegally.

[4] Article 17, no1 of the Diamonds Law stipulates that access to restricted zones is prohibited apart from those people who are legally involved in diamond production. The exception applies only to government officials and people and employers who are there in an official capacity. The government does permit concessionaires, in article 18 no1, the freedom to regulate the circulation of people in their concessions.

[5] In the same way, point 1in article 19 of the Diamonds Law prohibits the circulation of goods in the restricted zones "without the authorisation of the concessionaire", whereas point 2 of the same article permits such circulation with a written authorization by the concessionaire. The report Lundas: The Stones of Death  presents a legal analysis of the Diamonds Law and its perverse impact on the local populations. See www.wilsoncenter.org/events/docs/ADDMarq.pdf

The full text of the Diamonds Law can be viewed at  www.endiama.co.ao/pdfs/Lei16_94.pdf

 

 

 
 

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