Ameriques Asie Europe Moyen-Orient Internet Nations unies
Angola31 December 2007

Provincial radio reporter gets 30 days for covering protest by street vendors

Reporters Without Borders condemns the 30-day prison sentence passed by a criminal court in the southwestern city of Namibe on 28 December on Armando Chicoca, the correspondent of privately-owned Radio Ecclesia, following his arrest during a demonstration by street vendors six days earlier.

“Chicoca’s arrest and conviction seem to have been a case of the authorities punishing a journalist who is a nuisance, rather justice being administered in a fair and proper manner,” the press freedom organisation said. “The appeal filed by the defence must be heard quickly and the judicial authorities must see that Chicoca has no place in jail.”

The court dismissed a charge of inciting revolt, but found Chicoca guilty of “disobeying state authority.” He was ordered to pay 17,000 kuanzas (170 euros) in court costs as well as getting a one-month sentence. His appeal is to be heard by the supreme court.

Chicoca was arrested near a market in Namibe on 22 December while interviewing the owners of stalls that were being demolished by the police. The authorities accused him of failing to respect a police security cordon and urging protesters to throw stones.

The protests were staged by street vendors objecting to an order issued by provincial governor Boavioda Neto on 10 December to dismantle unauthorised markets and force vendors to move to a new location which they say is too small. The police used force to disperse the demonstrators.

While conducting his interviews, Chicoca was grabbed by the police, his equipment was seized and he was escorted to a police station. From there he was taken to Namibe prison, where he was unable to see a lawyer until he appeared in court for the trial on 28 December.

Raul Mangueira, a lawyer who heads a regional human rights commission, said after attending the trial that the prosecution failed to produce evidence in support of the charge of disobeying state authority.

In this country
13 May - Angola
In continuing harassment, newspaper editor forbidden to leave country
12 November - Angola
Newspaper editor freed provisionally pending outcome of appeal
18 July - Angola
Two journalists murdered in space of eight days

in the annual report
Africa press releases
3 June - Somalia
Alarm at TV station director’s abduction near Mogadishu
27 May - Gabon
Government imposes news blackout on President Bongo’s health
26 May - Somalia
Radio reporter shot by militia dies of injuries, fourth journalist to be killed this year

africa archives

18 March 2009 - Democratic Republic of Congo
“Bukavu, murder city”: investigation report into murders of journalists in the capital of Sud-Kivu
21 May 2008 - Eritrea
Naizghi Kiflu, the dictatorship’s eminence grise
6 March 2008 - Kenya
"How far to go ?" Kenya’s media caught in the turmoil of a failed election

Sign the petitions
Sign the petition for the release of ten Eritrean journalists