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Diplomacy in Action

Angola


Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
Report
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Part 1: Political and Human Rights Conditions

Angola is a constitutional republic that has been in transition since its 27-year civil war ended in 2002. On September 5 and 6, 2008, the government held the first legislative elections since 1992. Domestic and international observers reported that polling throughout the country was peaceful and generally credible, despite a ruling party advantage due to state control of media and other resources, and logistical problems that hampered polling in the capital of Luanda. 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, and impunity; arbitrary arrest and detention; judicial beatings, and rape; harsh prison conditions; official corruption, inefficiency and lack of independence; lengthy pretrial detention; lack of due process; restrictions on freedoms of speech, press, assembly, and association; forced evictions without compensation; and discrimination, violence, and abuse against women and children.

Part 2: U.S. Government Democracy Objectives

The U.S. Government'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, on promoting good governance and improved delivery of social services, and on strengthening the national parliament. The United States is also concentrating on strengthening the organizational and managerial capacity of civil society and political parties; promoting fiscal transparency; supporting independent media and 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. The United States is working with civil society and other political actors, including the independent media, to foster a level political playing field for all candidates in upcoming presidential and municipal elections.

Part 3: Supporting Top Priorities and Other Aspects of Human Rights and Democratic Governance

In 2008 the United States funded programs to strengthen electoral institutions and encourage full participation of citizens, civil society, and political parties in both the country's registration process and subsequent legislative elections, the first since 1992. For example, U.S. programs provided political party training for 1,544 political activists from 14 Angolan political parties, helped create a youth-focused weekly radio show, and funded town hall meetings to discuss issues of public interest. U.S. Government assistance trained 254 domestic observers and provided voter education to approximately 59,000 persons in 2008. U.S. Government assistance was critical in training 95 election officials who coordinated the activities of more than 3,720 electoral commission staff nationwide. The United States' Electoral Observation team also contributed to the transparency and credibility of the country's 2008 legislative elections. In 2008 the U.S. Government sent six civil society leaders to the United States to study grassroots democracy and NGO management through the International Visitor Leadership Program. In addition, the U.S. Government also organized 10 seminars in 2008 for universities and high schools as well as the journalism training center and the Angolan diplomatic academy on the United States' election process.

U.S. programs and partnerships 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 2008 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 2008 the U.S. Government funded two workshops where experts from the United States trained journalists and media organization managers on election coverage, news writing, reporting, and ethical and professional conduct. The training included analysis of local and national budgets in view of their relation to national and local government priorities. The U.S. Government provided the media with audio equipment, and distributed thousands of books and electronic journals on responsible journalism, free media, U.S. democracy, and the U.S. legal system. In coordination with Voice of America (VOA) Portuguese Service in the United States, the U.S. Government facilitated two live programs on National Radio of Angola with United States and Angolan experts on democracy and elections. An Angolan team also participated in a U.S. Government-funded television program in which they produced a documentary on elections and civic education. In 2008 the United States supported an independent media organization, which produced more than 2,500 news broadcasts and 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, the United States funded demining NGOs in 2008 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. More than 266 tons of dangerous ordnance, 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. For example, U.S. officials made informational presentations about human trafficking at antitrafficking roundtables and interviews for the press. The U.S. Government also 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 2008 the U.S. Government sent six police officers to training at the International Law Enforcement Academy.



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