Defamation Laws In Angola
Truth Is A Defense For Defamation In Angola…Except When The Plaintiff Is The President
In Angola, the Law on Crimes Against State Security gives powers to the state to determine threats to national security. Such threats include defaming the President and other government officials. Defaming the President or his representatives is a criminal offense. In ordinary defamation cases, the burden of proof lies with the defendant, but when the case involves the President, the defendant is not allowed to use truth as a defense.
In February 2006, Angola amended its Press Law, which now permits journalists to prove the truth of the facts reported as a defense in cases of alleged defamation.
The Media Libel Lawsuit Of Rafael Marques de Morai
In 1999, Rafael Marques de Morais, an Angolan journalist, was arrested and imprisoned in Luanda, following the publication about Angolan President José Eduardo dos Santos. Marques was detained for forty days without charges.
Marques was subsequently tried and convicted of the charge of “abuse of the press” resulting in “injury” to the President. The law under which Marques was prosecuted denied the possibility of a defense based on the truth of the statements at issue. Marques was sentenced to a six-month prison term, which was affirmed but suspended on appeal, and ordered to pay damages to the President. For nearly a year after his conviction, Marques’ passport was confiscated, and he was prohibited from leaving the country.
The Media Libel Lawsuit Of Santos & Costa
On 27 October 2000, the Angolan Supreme Court ruled on the appeal of journalists Aguiar Dos Santos and Gustavo Costa. While Dos Santos had been convicted of defaming the President, Costa was convicted of defaming José Leitao, chief of the president’s civil office.
Angola’s defamation laws have been the subject of much criticism with the UN Human Rights Committee, a body that monitors compliance with the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights.