AFEX Denounces Prosecution of Journalists in Angola

The African Freedom of Expression Exchange (AFEX) calls on the Angolan government to stop the prosecution of journalists, Rafael Marques de Morais and Mariano Bras.

On Friday, June 15, 2018, an Angolan public prosecutor, Pedro Pederneira sought the conviction of Marques de Morais following an article he published on a popular news website, Maka Angola in 2016 in which he linked the former attorney general, Joao Maria de Sousa to acts of corruption in a real estate deal. Marques de Morais is also an anti-corruption crusader is on trial with another journalist, Mariano Bras, who republished the article in weekly newspaper O Crime where he works.

Marques de Morais took to Twitter to inform his followers after the last court hearing on June 15:

“Public prosecutor calls for my conviction for crimes of insult to public authority & against the state. He exonerates his ex-boss – the plaintiff – of corruption & blames local admin instead,” Marques tweeted.

 According to media reports, the two were charged under Angola’s Law on Crimes against State Security, with “outrage to a sovereign body and injury against public authority” in June 2017.

The verdict is due on July 6. If convicted, Marques de Morais and Bras will face up to three years’ prison term each.

This is not the first time Marques de Morais, is being brought before the law for criticising top officials in Angola.  In 2015, he was convicted of defaming military generals in a book and was handed a six-month suspended prison sentence.

AFEX condemns the trial of the journalists as an attempt by the government to silence critical journalism in the country. We urge the authorities in Angola to refrain from interfering in the work of journalists and rather work towards improving the deteriorating press freedom situation in the country .