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Urgent appeal by Africa & UN special rapporteurs on Rafael Marques’ trial urges Angolan govt. to fulfil its obligations to uphold right to freedom of expression

“Joint Appeal by the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa and the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression concerning Mr. Rafael Marques de Morais”, 23 March 2015

…We have the honour to address Your Excellency…regarding the forthcoming trial of Mr. Rafael Marques de Morais…on charges of defamation,…scheduled to commence on 24 March 2015…Mr. Marques was indicted in January 2013 on charges of defamation in relation to his book titled "Blood Diamonds: Corruption and Torture in Angola" which was published in Portugal, in 2011. It is alleged that following criminal complaints by seven Angolan generals, a civilian, two mining companies and a private security company implicated in the book, eleven (11) charges of criminal defamation were brought against Mr. Marques. It is further alleged that a number of procedural irregularities have occurred during the pre-trial period…[W]e are concerned that if indeed these reports are accurate, it would amount to a failure on the part of the Government of the Republic of Angola to fulfil its obligations to uphold the right to freedom of expression…[T]he African Commission has…called on Member States to the African Charter to repeal criminal defamation laws and to repeal or amend all other similar criminal laws…At global level, the approach to defamation is similar...[W]e…request the Government of the Republic of Angola to repeal its criminal defamation laws and end prosecutions on the basis of these laws. With regards to Mr. Marques, we call on the Angolan authorities to ensure protection of his rights guaranteed under the African Charter…Special Rapporteur of Expression and Access to Information in Africa…[and]…UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression

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