Angola: Journalist Rafael Marques faces defamation charges over work exposing abuses in diamond industry

Rafael Marques_credit_Maka Angola

Rafael Marques is an independent Angolan journalist, recipient of numerous international awards including the recent Freedom of Expression award from Index on Censorship. Rafael is due to stand on trial on 24 March 2015 in Angola. He faces 11 defamation charges brought by 7 Angolan generals and 4 of their business associates over a book he wrote alleging human rights abuses in the diamond industry.   

Rafael's book “Blood Diamonds: Torture and Corruption in Angola,” details 500 alleged cases of torture and 100 killings in a diamond-mining district in Angola.  Rafael Marques filed crimes against humanity charges against the 7 Angolan generals as a result of his investigation and is being counter-sued by them.

International NGOs launched a campaign in support of Rafael's rights and Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited leading diamond companies to issue public statements in support of Rafael.  Leber Jeweler issued a statement which you can access below.

Below is a selection of materials on the case.

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Article
12 March 2015

Free Speech Should Be Worth More Than Diamonds in Angola

Author: Sarah Hager, Amnesty Intl.

Rafael goes on trial this month for writing a book accusing army generals in Angola of alleged human rights abuses. We are calling on the US State Department to raise our free speech concerns for Rafael and all citizens to the Angola government.Rafael goes on trial March 24th on politically motivated charges relating to a book he wrote in 2011 alleging human rights violations in the diamond industry by generals in the Angolan military and private businesses. He also filed a criminal complaint against those alleged to be responsible for the abuses described in his book, seeking justice for the victims of the country’s diamond industry. As a result, Mr. Marques was formally charged with criminal defamation; prosecuted for simply exercising his right to freedom of expression.

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Article
24 February 2015

Angola: Journalist Rafael Marques nominated for award for work on abuses involving diamond companies and govt.

Author: Index on Censorship

Rafael Marques_credit_Maka Angola

“#IndexAwards2015: Journalism nominee Rafael Marques de Morais”, 19 February 2015

Rafael Marques de Morais is an Angolan journalist and human rights activist...currently facing nine charges of defamation after publishing on human rights abuses committed during diamond mining operations in Angola…[He]…has dedicated his career to investigating his country’s maka: ingrained corruption in Angolan government and industry, and the repeated violation of Angolans’ human rights…his 1999 article The Lipstick of Dictatorship…said Angolan President José Eduardo dos Santos was propagating the country’s civil war to distract attention from his regime’s “incompetence, embezzlement and corruption”…Marques was arrested and detained for 40 days without charge…His six-month sentence for defamation…was then suspended on condition that he wrote nothing critical of the government for five years…Recently…[he]…has focused on following money trails between government figures and business leaders, especially in diamond and oil industries...Marques’ leading investigative work into corruption and human rights abuses at Angola’s diamond companies was distilled into his 2011 book Blood Diamonds: Torture and Corruption in Angola...Marques declared the bosses of these groups morally responsible for the atrocities committed under them, and filed charges of crimes against humanity against seven Angolan generals…[who]…launched…lawsuits…charging Marques with criminal libel...(inclui vídeo)

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Article
7 June 2013

International NGOs voice support for Angolan journalist and human rights activist, Rafael Marques de Morais

Author: Article 19, Associação Justiça, Paz e Democracia (AJPD), Committee to Protect Journalists, Corruption Watch UK, EG Justice, Freedom House, Global Witness, Associação Mãos Livres, Media Legal Defence Initiative, National Endowment for Democracy, OMUNGA, FIDH, OMCT, Rencontre pour la paix et les droits de l’homme (RPDH), Sherpa, Transparency International, World Movement for Democracy

Dear Attorney General João Maria de Sousa, As leading democracy, human rights, and anti-corruption organizations, we are writing to express our concern about recent judicial actions taken against the Angolan journalist and human rights activist, Mr. Rafael Marques de Morais...According to Mr. Marques, his interrogator informed him that he had been indicted in January 2013 on charges of defamation related to his book, Blood Diamonds: Corruption and Torture in Angola, published in Portugal in 2011. The book documents widely reported allegations of homicides, torture, forced displacement...and intimidation of inhabitants of the diamond-mining areas of Angola’s Lundas region...The complainants in the new indictment are civilian business partners of Angolan generals...All are shareholders and/or directors of a diamond mining company and its private security contractor, the alleged perpetrators of the crimes outlined in the Blood Diamonds book. In 2012, these Angolan generals filed a criminal defamation lawsuit against Mr. Marques in Portugal [which didn't succeed]...The plaintiffs are now pursuing a private prosecution in Portugal for libel and defamation against Mr. Marques...

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