Responding department: Ministry of Justice and Human Rights
Note: This response was originally submitted in Portuguese. Unofficial English translation provided by Business & Human Rights Resource Centre.
Has your government taken any initiatives to reduce companies’ negative impacts on human rights that you consider particularly successful?
The Constitution of the Republic of Angola defends and protects the fundamental rights and freedoms of its citizens. It is the fundamental task of the Angolan state to promote harmonious and sustainable development throughout the national territory, protecting the country’s environment, natural resources and historic, cultural and artistic heritage, as set out in Article 21 of the Constitution. Angola is party to almost all human rights conventions and the main environmental protection protocols and conventions (Climate Change Convention, known as the Kyoto Protocol, the Montreal Protocol on the Ozone Layer, the Biodiversity Convention, the Convention on Drought and Desertification, and many others.
Angola is state party to the Kimberley Process. The Kimberley Process started in May 2000, when South Africa brought more than 30 producer countries together. It now has 75 member countries that are involved in the production, export, import or trade of diamonds. It aims to stop armed groups producing and selling rough diamonds to fund armed conflicts and overthrow legitimate governments. It also aims to stop them from discrediting the legitimate market for rough diamonds and to protect the legal diamond industry, which is important to the economic and social development of many countries. Angola wants: the purchase and sale of diamonds to take place in a transparent way on an official market; to stop diamonds and other natural resources from being used as a source of funds for illegal business; to ensure respect for the international market and guarantee the human rights of citizens, whether their countries are party to the process or not. In addition, Angolan has a series of laws to protect workers’ rights and regulate the activities of security companies and extractive industries in the country. The Angolan government has adopted a range of measures to protect the environment. Its environmental policy aims to improve the quality of life of citizens who live in areas where natural resources are produced and to avoid disrupting the biogeochemical cycles indispensable to maintaining biodiversity.
What department or departments have significant responsibility for business and human rights within your government?
Several ministries have significant responsibilities in relation to ensuring that business respects human rights, including the ministries of: Territorial Administration; Public Administration, Employment and Social Security; Oil, Geology and Mines; Interior; Agriculture; Environment; and Justice and Human Rights. Without prejudice to interventions by other sectors.
Has your government undertaken new business & human rights initiatives or strengthened existing ones since the endorsement of the UN Guiding Principles in June 2011?
What are the top 5 priority issues that your government has taken steps to address since June 2011?
Types of company impacts prioritised:
- Health (including environmental health, workplace health & safety)
- Forced labour & trafficking
- Sexual harassment
- Land rights and displacement
- Women’s rights
- Impacts on children, including child labour
Actions on forced labour & trafficking
Law 3/14 of 10 February on the Criminalization of Money Laundering Offences was approved and is being implemented. Its aim is to criminalise a series of practices and enable Angolan criminal legislation to protect certain fundamental legal assets and fight human trafficking, especially of women and children. A National Strategy to Combat Human Trafficking is currently being prepared.
Actions on women
The government has taken action to increase women’s representation in various sectors of public and private life as part of the National Gender Policy. The Family and Promotion of Women Ministry conducted a dialogue and organised a consultation to ascertain what women want and to strengthen the fight for gender equality and against domestic violence. In 2011, Law 25/11 Against Domestic Violence was approved. The corresponding regulations were introduced by Presidential Decree 165/13 of 30 September and Law 26/13 of 8 May, concerning the Executive Plan to Combat Domestic Violence. A timetable of activities has been put together by various sectors. In 2014, an extensive consultation of rural women was conducted and an action plan was prepared with a view to gradually eliminating the major problems faced by rural women.
Angola has adopted legislative measures, revised legislation regulating the mining sector and strengthened environmental protection standards by introducing requirements for environmental impact studies and public consultations.
The government has introduced legislation and issued decrees to protect the environment, namely Presidential Decree 194/11 of 7 June on Environmental Degradation and Decree 3/2014 of 10 February on Environmental Crimes. Legislative measures have been taken to improve the environmental and social licensing system for companies, making it compulsory for companies to conduct environmental impact studies.
Has your government adopted a National Action Plan on business and human rights as encouraged by the UN Human Rights Council and UN Working Group on business & human rights, or will it do so in the future?
The Angolan government is preparing a generic National Human Rights Education Strategy and is studying the possibility of adopting measures on Business and Human Rights in accordance with the guidelines issued by the United Nations Human Rights Council.
Access to remedy: What steps have been taken to develop new non-judicial remedies, improve existing mechanisms, and reduce barriers for victims?
The Ministry of Justice and Human Rights is establishing Out-of-Court Dispute Settlement Centres (CRELs) throughout the country. They provide legal advice and assistance to citizens, as well as conciliation, mediation and arbitration services. The CRELs can provide support to victims. An independent Ombudsman works to defend citizens' rights, freedoms and guarantees and ensure justice and legality in the public administration through informal procedures.
Access to remedy: For companies headquartered in your country or their subsidiaries, has your government taken steps to enhance accountability for human rights impacts abroad?
In general, accountability and respect for fundamental principles of human rights is the responsibility of all companies, whether they have operations inside or outside the country.
Which factors impede your government’s ability to take action on business and human rights?
- Lack of resources for enforcement, monitoring and prosecution
- Concern about deterring foreign investment
- Opposition by economic interest groups or business associations
- Political limitations imposed by foreign governments or multilateral institutions
- Lack of understanding or awareness of business & human rights in government
- Challenges of coordinating across government departments
Not a factor:
- Opposition or lack of consensus within government
- Other opposition by influential people or groups outside government
What, if any, form of support would your government welcome the most to help advance its actions to improve companies’ impacts on human rights?
Support could be in the form of capacity-building, training, technical assistance, and sharing experiences with other countries and companies.
Please share with us any further comments, including ideas for future collaboration and shared learning to advance business & human rights.
It is important for companies to respect human rights and show respect for the dignity of human brings in a direct way and through their image and activities. Observation of these principles helps companies train their staff by opening up space for debate, promoting dialogue and maintaining open forums.