Angola is a constitutional republic in transition since its 27-year civil war ended in 2002. UN observers considered the 1992 presidential and legislative elections, the country's last elections, to have been generally free and fair; however, the government's continued delay of elections since then has undermined citizens' right to elect their government. The government's human rights record remained poor, and there were numerous, serious problems. Human rights abuses included: the abridgement of citizens' right to elect officials at all levels; unlawful killings by police, military, and private security forces; security force torture, beatings, and rape; harsh prison conditions; official corruption and impunity; arbitrary arrest and detention; judicial inefficiency and lack of independence; lengthy pretrial detention; lack of due process; restrictions on freedom of speech, press, and assembly; forced evictions without compensation; and discrimination, violence, and abuse against women and children.
The U.S. strategy for promoting a secure and transparent democracy is to focus on preparing electoral institutions, civil society, political parties, and citizens for participation in peaceful and credible elections, and to promote good governance and improved delivery of social services. The United States is also concentrating on strengthening the organizational and managerial capacity of civil society and political parties; promoting fiscal transparency; supporting training for journalists; and destroying the hazardous remnants of war that continue to threaten lives and security. To reach these goals, the United States fosters partnerships with the government, other donors, international and local NGOs, faith-based organizations, and private corporations.
In 2007 U.S. programs worked to strengthen electoral institutions and encourage full participation of citizens, civil society, and political parties in the country's first post-war legislative, presidential, and local elections, which are currently expected in 2008, 2009, and 2010, respectively. U.S. programs and outreach educated more than 130,000 citizens on conflict mitigation and their electoral rights and responsibilities. The United States supports training and technical assistance for political parties at the national and provincial levels on platform development, message delivery, and constituency relations. Political parties and civil society continue to receive training in their roles during the pre-election period. U.S. funds support the expansion and consolidation of a national network of election-related NGOs to broaden citizen involvement in the electoral process. In 2007 the United States supported projects that helped train civil society and political parties to observe and monitor the registration process and strengthen the national network coordinating the observation of voter registration throughout the country's 18 provinces. The U.S. embassy also sent four civil society leaders to the United States to study grassroots democracy and NGO management through the International Visitor Leadership Program.
Good governance is key to the development of a prosperous and democratic country. As it pursues more balanced economic growth, the country requires stronger government institutions and active and effective civil society organizations. The United States focuses especially on improved human capacity to implement democratic reforms, fight corruption, and uphold human rights and the rule of law. U.S. programs support efforts to build capacity by training government officials, political parties, and civil society representatives in democratic organizational management. U.S. programs and partnerships also support systemic reforms to decentralize funds and authority to the local level, improve transparency and accountability, and foster dialogue between civil society and the government. In 2007 U.S. programs trained local officials, civil society members, and community residents on subjects including building the management and financial skills of local officials and civil society; municipal financing and budgeting; community planning; local revenue generation; and specialized competencies, such as local economic development, strategic planning, energy planning and customer service, and information systems for urban planning.
U.S. programs assist the government, civil society, and local communities to improve service delivery by strengthening national, provincial, and municipal health system management and by helping local communities improve their access to and interaction with the formal health system. These programs are key building blocks in the development of a healthy, democratic country. The United States continues to prioritize support for media and capacity development for journalists. In 2007 U.S.-funded workshops trained journalists on election coverage, news writing, reporting, and ethical and professional conduct. This training included analysis of local and national budgets in view of their relation to national and local government priorities. U.S. legal and ethics experts provided training for journalists, legal professionals, academics, and civil society members on the judiciary's role in protecting freedom of the press, as well as the media's role in promoting ethical and transparent business practices. U.S. programs also distributed books and electronic journals on responsible journalism in both Portuguese and English to journalists and media professionals. The United States continues to support an independent media organization, which produced more than 2,500 news broadcasts, information spots; debates; and interviews on key democratic governance issues, such as press freedom and freedom of information, transparency and accountability, rights to education, democratic electoral processes, and civic education. In addition, in order to encourage people to feel safe voting, the United States funded demining NGOs to restore access to more than one million square meters of land for agricultural, social, and productive use through landmine clearance and destruction of unexploded ordnance. In the process, more than 100 tons of excess and unstable weapons and munitions were destroyed.
The United States promotes human rights by underscoring the important connection between the government's support for human rights and strong, transparent public institutions. The United States regularly discusses human rights issues with government officials at all levels, as well as with the international community and local NGOs. U.S. officials frequently travel throughout the country to discuss human rights issues. For instance, U.S. officials visited Lunda Norte in 2007 to discuss the human rights situation with human rights activists, police, and local government officials. In Luanda, U.S. officials gave informational presentations about human trafficking at antitrafficking roundtables and hosted a viewing of antitrafficking films. The U.S. government monitors the human rights situation throughout the country, focusing on Cabinda, Lunda Norte, and Lunda Sul provinces, and encourages human rights training for police, military, and other government representatives. The U.S. government funds international organizations and local NGOs that provide human rights and professional training to the police and military. In 2007 the U.S. government also sent 35 police officers to training at the International Law Enforcement Academy.