(ENG) Forced Evictions in Luanda


12 December 2005

President Jose? Eduardo Dos Santos
Palacio do Povo
Republic of Angola
tel.: +244-2-353877
fax: + 244-2-370366

Dear Mr. President,

Re: Forced Evictions in Luanda

The Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE) is an international human rights non-
governmental organisation based in Geneva, Switzerland, with offices throughout the world.
COHRE has consultative status with the United Nations and Observer Status with the African
Commission on Human and Peoples Rights. COHRE works to promote and protect the right to
adequate housing for everyone, everywhere, including preventing or remedying forced evictions.

COHRE has received disturbing reports that on 24 November 2006, police, accompanied by
representatives of the Nova Vida project, forcibly evicted families living in the Luanda suburbs of
Banga We?, Bairro 28 de Agosto, and Cambamba 1 and 2. Police demolished homes without
reasonable notice, without consultation with the community, and without compensation or
alternative accommodation. The police also assaulted several residents and arrested 13 people, six
of whom were reportedly beaten while in custody. Seventy armed police then returned on 30
November with soldiers, members of a private security firm and a commercial demolition team
and continued demolishing homes. SOS Habitat reports that 628 homes were destroyed in the
four suburbs.

From our information it is clear that this is not an isolated event. In September 2005, the national
police forcibly evicted 200 families in Bairro Cidadania and demolished their homes. Our records
show that, since 2001, more than 5,000 families have been forcibly evicted from their homes in

Although it is unclear under whose authority these evictions were authorised, as a State Party to
the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Government of Angola
is, at all levels, legally obligated to respect, protect and fulfil the right to adequate housing,
including the prohibition on forced evictions, as guaranteed under Article 11(1). It is furthermore
obligated to not interfere with persons who enjoy some level of housing, as well as to protect
everyone within its jurisdiction from forced evictions undertaken by third parties including State
and Municipal authorities.

Indeed, the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights in 2002 found that the African
Charter guaranteed the right to adequate housing including the prohibition on forced eviction
(see SERAC and CESR v. Nigeria, ACHRP 2002). In the SERAC case, the African Commission
incorporated the substance and jurisprudence of international human rights law on the
prohibition of forced eviction into the implied right to adequate housing in the African Charter.
Since the Government of Angola ratified the African Charter on 3 March 1990, international
human rights law binding upon the Government requires that evictions can only be considered as
lawful if they are deemed necessary in the most exceptional circumstances. If such exceptional
circumstances exist, then certain procedural protections and due process requirements have to
be adhered to, including that States must ensure, prior to any planned evictions, and particularly
those involving large groups, that all feasible alternatives are explored in consultation with
affected persons. Furthermore, and in any event, eviction shall not result in rendering individuals
homeless or vulnerable to the violation of other human rights. The Government of Angola is
legally obligated to ensure that adequate alternative housing and compensation for all losses is
made available to affected persons.

Moreover, the forced evictions and associated violence carried out by the police are in violation
of the Constitution of Angola, in particular Article 21 (2), which states, “Constitutional and legal
norms related to fundamental rights shall be interpreted and incorporated in keeping with the
Universal Declaration of the Rights of Man, the African Charter on the Rights of Man and
Peoples and other international instruments to which Angola has adhered.”

It is our assertion that the forced eviction of the communities of Banga We?, Bairro 28 de Agosto,
and Cambamba 1 and 2 were committed in violation of the Government of Angolas legal
obligations under international human rights law, for a number of reasons, including:

(1) The evictions have not been deemed to meet the exceptional circumstances threshold
by an independent and impartial tribunal;
(2) The affected community has not been consulted;
(3) Feasible alternatives to the planned eviction have not been considered;
(4) Sufficient notice was not given to affected persons; and
(5) No compensation was offered.

Therefore, COHRE urges the Government of Angola to immediately ensure that the affected
families may return to the site from which they were evicted or that an adequate, alternative site
for resettlement is provided in genuine consultation with the community and within an acceptable
distance to their sources of employment and education. COHRE also urges the Government of
Angola to ensure that restitution is provided for all property that was destroyed by the police.

COHRE has raised the problem of forced evictions with Government of Angola regarding
forced evictions on a number of occasions in the past. In addition to sending letters, COHRE
staff met with Mr. Roland Neto of the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Angola during
2004, concerning evictions in Boavista. At this meeting, COHRE provided Mr. Neto with
information about the Government of Angola’s responsibilities towards its citizens’ right to
protection from forced evictions under international law. To date we have received very little by
way of positive response from your government. The recent evictions indicate to us that your
government is not prepared to take its obligations in this regard seriously. We therefore request
immediate and urgent action from your office, in order to bring justice and fairness to the
affected families.

We look forward to your response and an ongoing dialogue with your government on the rights
of its people to adequate housing. We will be contacting your office shortly to follow up. Our
staff will also be contacting your consulate in Geneva to request a consultation on these matters
and our Litigation and Media Programmes will explore other forms of human rights advocacy as
necessary. Thank you very much for your time and consideration.


Jean du Plessis
Coordinator, Global Forced Eviction Programme
Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions
83 Rue de Montbrillant
1202 Geneva

For: Scott Leckie
COHRE Executive Director

Sua Excele?ncia Job Capaphina
Provincial Governor of Luanda
Republic of Angola
Fax: +244 222 39 25 52
+244 222 39 51 53
+244 222 39 13 26
E-mail: gpl@ebonet.net

Mrs Ana Dias Lourenc?o
Minister of Planning
Republic of Angola
Tel 33 86 86 / 39 64 82
Fax: 33 95 86
E-mail: lourenco@compuserve.com

Mr. Francisco Higino Carneiro
Minister of Public Works & Urban Affairs
Republic of Angola
Tel: 33 67 15
Fax: 39 25 39

Exmo. Sr Jose? Alfredo Ekuikui
National Police Commander
Republic of Angola
Fax: +244 222 392 532

Sua Excele?ncia Manuel Araga?o
Minister of Justice
Republic of Angola
Fax:+244 222 330 327
+244 222 33 81 75

Africa Commission on Human and Peoples Rights
Tel (220) 4392 962
Fax (220) 4390 764
Email achpr@achpr.org

Mrs Louise Arbour
UN High Commissioner on Human Rights
Fax: +41.22.9179008
E-mail: tb-petitions@ohchr.org