Évictions forcées en Angola/ Forced evictions in Angola

(Liens en anglais/ links in english)

Un rapport de Human Right Watch indique que le gouvernement de l’Angola évince de force des milliers d’habitants des quartiers pauvres de la capitale, Luanda.

La nouvelle est aussi reprise par Reuters.

A new report from Human Rights Watch tells us that Angola’s government evicted thousands of people from the poor neighbourhoods of the capital city, Luanda, by force. (The news is also in Reuters)

HRW (Read the report here):

Angola: Thousands Forcibly Evicted in Postwar Boom

(Brussels, May 15, 2007) – In the economic boom since the end of Angola’s civil war in 2002, the Angolan government has forcibly evicted thousands of poor residents of the capital Luanda, usually with violence and almost always without compensation, Human Rights Watch and the Angolan organization SOS Habitat said in a report released today.

The 103-page report, “They Pushed Down the Houses: Forced Evictions and Insecurity of Tenure for Luanda’s Urban Poor,” documents 18 mass evictions in Luanda that the Angolan government carried out between 2002 and 2006. In these evictions, which affected some 20,000 people in total, security forces destroyed more than 3,000 houses, and the government seized many small-scale cultivated land plots. These large-scale evictions violated both Angolan and international human rights law, and have left many Angolans homeless and destitute with no access to a legal remedy.

“Millions of Angolans were displaced during the civil war, but since then the government has forcibly evicted thousands more from their homes in the capital,” said Peter Takirambude, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “The government’s postwar policies have resulted in the destruction of thousands of homes and repeated violations of human rights.”

Thousands of Angolans remain vulnerable to forced evictions caused by the government’s failure to address widespread insecurity of land tenure. The majority of Luanda’s estimated 4 million residents hold no formal title to their house or land. Inadequate laws on land and urban management due to lack of implementing regulations and the absence of provisions that protect against forced evictions, weak enforcement of laws and ineffective real estate registration procedures put thousands at risk.

“Most of the evictees are poor and vulnerable Angolans; their houses were demolished and many were left only with the clothes they were wearing,” said Luiz Araujo, director of SOS Habitat, an Angolan nongovernmental organization that focuses on housing rights. “Millions of Luanda’s residents will remain vulnerable to forced evictions unless the government takes immediate steps to end forced evictions completely and address the insecurity of land tenure in this city.”

The report provides evidence that forced evictions were neither sporadic nor isolated events in Luanda. Instead, the evictions represent a pattern of abusive conduct on the part of the Angolan government that has not significantly changed. To date, the authorities have neither taken the steps necessary to ensure forced evictions end, nor have they provided accountability for abuses associated with these evictions. The government has also failed to compensate the vast majority of evictees as it is required to do under Angolan and international law.

Evictees told Human Rights Watch and SOS Habitat that police officers and local government officials carried out evictions with brutal violence and excessive use of force. Police officers, sometimes accompanied by members of private security companies, fired shots in the air or on the ground to intimidate the unarmed population. Police often arbitrarily detained evictees, and many of those arrested told Human Rights Watch and SOS Habitat that they were physically abused while in police custody. Human rights defenders present during evictions were harassed and sometimes arbitrarily arrested.

The Angolan government failed to provide affected communities with adequate information about the purpose of their eviction and to consult them about possible alternative solutions to their forcible removal. In the “informal settlements” where the majority of Luanda’s population lives with unregistered tenure, residents were evicted with little or no notice. The government did not ascertain what rights people had to the land they occupied before evicting them.

The government also failed to provide accurate information about the body that issued the eviction order, its legal grounds, and the appropriate body for appealing such decisions. The authorities carried out these forced evictions without a proper and consistent procedure to determine the form or amount of compensation due to individual evictees.

The Angolan government justifies the evictions on the grounds that it needs the land for public interest development projects or that it is removing alleged trespassers from state land. While the government claims that it is trying to improve living conditions in Luanda, it is, in fact, making such conditions worse for the most economically vulnerable by evicting thousands of them and by depriving them of the necessary assistance to help the evictees reestablish elsewhere.

“Many people cultivated and lived in these areas for decades; others settled according to custom, with the permission of elders,” said Araujo. “The government never formally or legally expropriated the land people occupied or gave them a chance to claim their rights to the land.”

The evictions documented in this report were carried out in violation of Angolan and international law. Angola is a party to both the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and is obliged to protect everyone from arbitrary or unlawful interference with their home and family, as well as take steps to realize the right to adequate housing. Forced evictions violate both these basic obligations and result in multiple other human rights violations.

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