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ANGOLA: Tier 2

The Government of Angola does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so. The government demonstrated overall increasing efforts compared to the previous reporting period, considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on its anti-trafficking capacity; therefore Angola remained on Tier 2. These efforts included convicting multiple traffickers, including five complicit officials, and sentencing all to imprisonment; offering long-term protective services that incentivized victims to participate in trials against their traffickers; dedicating funds specifically for anti-trafficking efforts, including for implementation of the national action plan (NAP); and conducting public awareness campaigns against trafficking. However, the government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas. The government did not investigate some serious allegations of official complicity in trafficking, and while all convicted traffickers received sentences of imprisonment, some sentences were very short compared to the severity of the crime. The government substantially decreased victim identification efforts and did not report referring any identified victims to care. While the government launched a new hotline that received reports of trafficking, it did not yet have the staff or resources to investigate the claims. Finally, the government remained without procedures to oversee and regulate most domestic labor sectors and the labor recruitment process.

PRIORITIZED RECOMMENDATIONS:

Implement and train front-line officials on standardized procedures for the proactive identification of victims among vulnerable groups, including foreign nationals, such as North Korean and Cuban workers, and refer victims to appropriate services. • Sentence convicted traffickers to prison terms. • Increase efforts to investigate and prosecute trafficking crimes, especially sex trafficking and labor trafficking in the construction sector and in animal herding. • Amend Article 178 to criminalize all forms of internal sex trafficking. • Increase efforts to provide shelter, counseling, and medical care for trafficking victims either directly or in partnership with NGOs. • Institute referral mechanisms for hotlines to report alleged trafficking cases to law enforcement. • Utilize the regional data collection tool to improve efforts to collect, synthesize, and analyze nationwide law enforcement and victim protection data. • Increase the proactive engagement of the inter-ministerial commission in anti-trafficking efforts and allocate funding for its activities. • Train law enforcement officials on the anti-trafficking provisions in Angolan law.

PROSECUTION

The government maintained anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts and increased efforts to hold officials accountable for complicity in human trafficking. In November 2020, the government amended the anti-trafficking articles of the penal code, taking effect in February 2021. Laws 38/20 and 39/20 revoked the prior anti-trafficking legislation, the 2014 Law on the Criminalization of Infractions Surrounding Money Laundering, slightly increasing the penalties for some trafficking offenses. Article 177 criminalized slavery with penalties of seven to 15 years’ imprisonment and the buying or selling of a child under the age of 14 for the purpose of adoption or slavery with penalties of five to 10 years’ imprisonment. Article 178 criminalized the labor trafficking of adults and children and prescribed penalties of four to 10 years’ imprisonment. Article 189 criminalized some forms of domestic adult sex trafficking and prescribed penalties of one to eight years’ imprisonment. Article 190 criminalized transnational adult sex trafficking and prescribed penalties of two to 10 years’ imprisonment. Article 196 criminalized child sex trafficking and prescribed penalties of five to 15 years’ imprisonment. These penalties were all sufficiently stringent and, with respect to sex trafficking, commensurate with those prescribed for other grave crimes, such as rape. The 2020 amendment removed “sexual exploitation” as a purpose of a trafficking crime in Article 178. Because the other anti-trafficking articles did not criminalize all forms of internal sex trafficking, Angola law no longer criminalized all forms of sex trafficking. During the reporting period and before the passage of the new laws, the government continued to use the 2014 law to prosecute traffickers.

During the pandemic, government offices, including investigative agencies and courts, operated at reduced hours with reduced staff. Nevertheless, the government initiated 10 trafficking investigations, compared with 15 potential trafficking investigations in the previous reporting period. One case involved the sex trafficking of Congolese women in Cabinda province, and all other cases involved child forced labor across multiple provinces. The government also continued 13 investigations initiated in previous reporting periods, including several child forced labor cases and a Luanda sex trafficking case with 11 Vietnamese and Chinese victims. The government prosecuted and convicted 13 suspected traffickers in three cases, a decrease from prosecution of 27 potential traffickers but an increase from conviction of 10 traffickers in the previous reporting period. The government convicted and sentenced five labor traffickers to between six and 10 years’ imprisonment for child forced begging, three Congolese traffickers to more than eight years’ imprisonment for child and adult sex trafficking of Congolese women in Angola, and five police officers to between three and 10 years’ imprisonment for sending children abroad for forced labor.

There were numerous reports of official complicity in human trafficking offenses, and the government took strong action in some cases. During the previous reporting period, the government charged five officers from a specialized police unit with trafficking in persons, forced labor, organized crime, and falsification of documents for allegedly conspiring to force six Angolan children to beg in Portugal, Italy, and France. In July 2020, it convicted all five for trafficking of minors to foreign countries. Three of the officials received six-year sentences, one received a three-year sentence, and the leader, convicted in absentia, received a 10-year sentence. During the reporting period, the government uncovered and began investigating additional officials from the civil registration office and migration and foreigners service who were also allegedly involved. In the past, well-connected individuals confiscated land from members of the San indigenous group, which forced many San to work as indentured servants on the land they had previously owned. The government has not reported whether it investigated or resolved the disputes, including whether the land was returned to the San. In the previous reporting period, the government charged an Angolan border guard in Cunene province for conspiracy to force a woman and five boys into exploitative labor and, in a second case, began investigating a possible trafficking nexus in the investigation of an Angolan army officer charged with smuggling; the government did not report any updates on these cases during the reporting period. Systemic corruption among labor officials prevented effective enforcement of labor laws, including against forced labor. Law enforcement did not consistently or effectively enforce laws against prostitution or sex trafficking.

Multiple law enforcement agencies had mandates that included trafficking. In addition to the police, the Criminal Investigation Services and Court of Minors could investigate child trafficking. The National Police Academy continued to train officers on the 2014 law, and an international organization trained 155 police officers on identification of trafficking. The government acknowledged officials at the northern Angolan-Congolese border had insufficient training to identify cross-border trafficking, which was reportedly prevalent. The Ministry of Justice and Human Rights (MJHR) trained 50 airport officials on identification of human trafficking.

PROTECTION

The government decreased protection efforts. Through its investigations, the government identified at least 19 trafficking victims, including both adults and children, victims of sex and labor trafficking, and victims from Angola and the DRC. This is a significant decrease from identifying and referring to care 36 trafficking victims in the previous reporting period. Government officials generally referred identified victims to religious- or NGO-run shelters for food, clothing, education, and medical care; however, it did not report whether it referred any victims to these shelters during the reporting period. The government provided limited financial support to some of these shelters. The National Institute of Children (INAC) ran separate child support centers in all 18 provinces that could provide food, shelter, basic education, and family reunification for crime victims younger than age 18. Additionally, the Ministry of Social Action, Family, and the Promotion of Women managed a national network of safe houses for women, counseling centers, and children’s centers, which trafficking victims could access. The government could also provide foster care and family tracing services for child trafficking victims, as well as legal representation, social workers, and counseling to all victims. It continued to provide a social worker to two child trafficking victims identified in a previous reporting period.

Law enforcement continued to report it used anti-trafficking manuals for proactive victim identification, including best practices for interviewing potential victims, screening vulnerable groups, assessing risk, and referring victims to protective services. During the reporting period, the government trained 22 officials on the national referral mechanism to direct trafficking victims to shelter and services. Nevertheless, 12 of Angola’s 18 provinces continued to lack formal guidelines to refer trafficking victims to care. Foreign trafficking victims could return to their home country regardless of ongoing court proceedings. While trafficking victims remained in the country, Angolan law provided for access to immigration relief, including temporary residence documents, the right to seek asylum, government-provided legal representation, immunity from trafficking crimes, medical and mental health services, some financial support, family tracing assistance, and access to education. The immigration-related benefits, however, were contingent upon the commencement of a criminal investigation and the victim’s testimony. The government did not report providing any of these benefits to foreign victims identified during the reporting period. The government encouraged victim cooperation in the investigation and prosecution of trafficking cases. Angolan law allowed for live teleconference testimony, which permitted victims to pursue repatriation and participate in trials against their traffickers from their home countries. The government did not report whether any victims used this option during the reporting period. Despite laws that permitted judges to order restitution to trafficking victims, none did so during the reporting period. While transnational trafficking across the Angolan-Congolese border was prevalent, law enforcement routinely detained and deported those illegally crossing the border without screening for trafficking. As a result, authorities may have detained and deported trafficking victims for unlawful immigration offenses their traffickers compelled them to commit.

PREVENTION

The government maintained efforts to prevent human trafficking. The anti-trafficking inter-ministerial commission, led by MJHR and the Ministry of Social Assistance and Reintegration, met five times during the reporting period. For the second consecutive year, the government funded the commission’s 2020-2025 NAP, and the commission implemented it, in collaboration with international organizations and NGOs. The government did not report whether it contributed data to the regional data collection tool during the reporting period. The government did not have procedures to oversee and regulate labor recruitment beyond periodic labor inspections. It did not report how many labor inspections it conducted, compared with 5,461 in the previous reporting period. Personnel and financial deficiencies continued to hamper efforts to identify forced and child labor. Labor inspectors did not have enough funding to cover transportation expenses, and when they did conduct inspections, they targeted the formal sector, where only one-quarter of Angolans work. In addition, despite the presence of young children in forced and child labor, labor inspectors focused on children aged 14-17 who had the legal authority to work.

The government demonstrated mixed efforts to document individuals within the country. It continued its mass registration campaign and, in 2020, issued more than one million Angolans their first identity documents. The program did not include stateless individuals. Separately, the government, supported by an international organization, commenced a program to locally integrate more than 3,600 Rwandan, Liberian, and Sierra Leonean former refugees with a temporary residence permit. NGOs reported some police confiscated and destroyed refugees’ documents during roundups. MJHR operated a hotline for potential victims of crime and public reporting, but it did not report how many calls it received or whether the government identified any victims via the hotline. In July 2020, INAC and the Integrated Center for Public Safety launched a separate hotline for crimes against children. While the hotline received 140 complaints of child trafficking from July 2020 through December 2020, hotline workers did not have the capacity to disseminate or investigate reported complaints; thus, the government did not investigate any of the 140 potential cases. The government did not make efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts. The government did not provide anti-trafficking training for its diplomatic personnel.

TRAFFICKING PROFILE

As reported over the past five years, human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in Angola, and traffickers exploit victims from Angola abroad. Traffickers exploit Angolans, including children as young as 12 years old, in forced labor in the brick making, domestic service, construction, agriculture, fisheries, and artisanal diamond mining sectors. Angolan girls as young as 13 years old are victims of sex trafficking, and girls in domestic work within private homes in Angola are vulnerable to labor trafficking. Angolan adults use children younger than 12 in forced criminal activity because children cannot be criminally prosecuted. As a result of the pandemic, “handlers” increasingly bring poor children to Luanda for street work, including begging, shoe shining, car washing, and parking assistance, where they are vulnerable to forced labor from their handlers and other traffickers. The provinces of Luanda, Benguela, and the border provinces of Cunene, Lunda Norte, Namibe, Uige, and Zaire are the most high-threat areas for trafficking activities. In response to widespread droughts in Cuene, some villages force children to drop out of school to gather water, dig wells, and herd cattle.

Transnational traffickers take advantage of Angola’s numerous unsecured, informal, and heavily used border crossings. Traffickers take some Angolan boys to Namibia for forced labor in cattle herding and force others to serve as couriers to transport illicit goods as part of a scheme to skirt import fees in cross-border trade with Namibia. Other recruiters take Angolan adults and children to Namibia for work in agriculture, construction, mineral extraction, and unlicensed street vending, where they may be in exploitative labor relationships. Traffickers exploit Angolan women and children in forced labor in domestic service and sex trafficking in South Africa, Namibia, and European countries, including the Netherlands and Portugal.

Trafficking networks recruit and transport Congolese girls as young as 12 years old from Kasai Occidental in the DRC to Angola for labor and sex trafficking. Undocumented Congolese migrants, including children, enter Angola for work in diamond mining districts, where traffickers exploit some in forced labor or sex trafficking in mining camps. Traffickers also exploit adult and child Congolese economic migrants in forced labor in construction. Women from Brazil, Cuba, DRC, Namibia, and Vietnam in commercial sex in Angola may be victims of sex trafficking, including in massage parlors. Due to the closure of businesses during the pandemic, commercial sex occurred more in clandestine settings, such as homes and hotel rooms. Chinese companies that have large construction or mining contracts bring Chinese workers to Angola; some companies do not disclose the terms and conditions of the work at the time of recruitment. There are reports that Chinese-owned and -operated construction companies exploit Brazilian, Chinese, Kenyan, Namibian, Southeast Asian, and possibly Congolese migrants in forced labor, including through withholding passports, threats of violence, denial of food, and confinement. These companies also, at times, coerce workers to operate in unsafe conditions, which sometimes reportedly resulted in death. The North Korean and Cuban governments may have forced their respective citizens to work in Angola, including at least 256 Cuban doctors sent to Angola to combat the pandemic.

U.S. Department of State

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