Universal Periodic Review: CPTI Submission Angola, February 2010


Executive summary

This submission focusses on the treatment of conscientious objectors and
others who seek to avoid military service in Angola. Among the human
rights concerns it identifies are:

  • failure to implement the legal provision allowing conscientious objectors to
    substitute civilian service for military service

  • forced recruitment

  • extra-judicial killings of deserters and persons attempting to escape recruitment

  • discrimination against those who have not performed military service

  • inadequate safeguards against juvenile recruitment

submission was prepared in August 2009. Much of the material comes
from an unpublished paper “Conscientious Objection in Context of
War and Militarised Society” delivered by Emanuel Matondo of
Angolana Antimilitarista para os Direitos Humanos
Antimilitarist Initiative for Human Rights) at a parallel event,
co-hosted by CPTI, to the 61st
of the Commission on on Human Rights, 30th
March 2005. The information has been updated from the website of the
Initiative (http://iaadh.de)
and from other sources.

Military Service in Angola

Angola maintains a system of obligatory military service, regulated
by the
Military Service Law (Lei
Geral do Serviço Militar
No. 1/93, of 26th
March 1993.

3. All male citizens are required to register for military service in
the year of their eighteenth birthday. Liability to perform military
service (Article 2, Paragraph 1 of Law 1/93) applies from 1st
January of the year of the 20th
birthday until 31st
December of the year of the 45th
birthday. Women with academic qualifications in certain fields are
also required to register for military service (Article 24 of Law

4. The duration of obligatory military service is two years, but this
may as necessary be extended or reduced by one year on the authority
of the National Assembly if “conditions of service permit”.


5. Each January the Ministry of Defence issues a decree calling on male
citizens entering their eighteenth year to register. In 2009, for
instance, the summons was addressed to all male citizens, whether or
not resident in Angola, born between 1st
January and 31st
December 1991, and registration was required between 12th
January and 28th

6. Although fighting continued in the Cabinda enclave against the
secessionist FLAC, the end of the civil war against UNITA led to a
pause in recruitment. No call-ups were issued in 2002 or 2003. In
January 2004, however annual call-ups resumed, and in 2005 the
summons to register was also addressed to all those born between 1981
and 1986 who had not previously registered. Those born between 1970
and 1974 (ie approaching the upper age limit) were also called upon
to “regularize their military situation”.

7. There have been no reports of any suspension of recruitment
following the end of the major military confrontation in Cabinda.

Penalties for avoidance of military service

8. Under article 29 of the Military Penal Code (Lei
dos Crimes Militares
No. 4/94, of 28th
January 1994, those
who fail to report for military service – including conscientious
objectors - are liable to a sentence of two years imprisonment
followed by military serice of twice the normal length, ie. four

9. It has been alleged that in practice when such persons have been
apprehended they have sometimes been punished by being sent into
active service with no training or training of only two to four
weeks. It has to be assumed that this increases the risk of a
violent death.

10.Deserters may be sentenced to between two and eight years of imprisonment in
times of peace and eight to twelve years in time of war. In practice
it is alleged that during the civil war deserters were either
summarily executed or posted to the front line.

Discrimination against those who have not performed military service

11. Under Article 1, Paragraph 3 of Law 93/1 no person may obtain public
employment nor enrol in any educational establishment who has not
performed any military service required of him.

Conscientious Objection

12. Many Angolans reacted to the long years of civil war with a
rejection of violence and a desire to dissociate themselves from all
parties to the conflicts. A number have declared their
conscientious objections to military service.

13. Article 10, Paragraphs 5-7 (paragraphs 1-4 do not seem to exist) of
Law 1/93 states that persons liable for military service who are
conscientious objectors will perform an appropriate civilian service,
to be the subject of specific implementing regulations.1

14. As far as is known, such regulations have never been promulgated, and no
Angolan conscientious objectors have performed an alternative
civilian service. Angolan antimilitarist organisations insist that
conscientious objectors are not in practice released from military
service, exemptions being given only to persons with disabilities or
severe illness, and to students for the duration of their studies,
provided that they have registered for military service.

Forced recruitment

15. In practice, both the Government and, during the civil war, UNITA
have relied very heavily on forced recruitment raids, known locally
as rusgas.
typical pattern is of house-to-house searches in the early morning,
often backed up by a ban on anyone of military age leaving the
country and restrictions on movement within the country.

It is alleged that in the course of rusgas
are broken down, and the inhabitants of the searched houses
frequently assaulted; occasionally there are sexual asaults on the
females. Potential recruits who attempt to flee are sometimes
summarily shot.

Inadequate safeguards against juvenile recruitment

17. During the war against UNITA, both sides made very extensive use of
child soldiers of both sexes.. Some of those recruited in rusgas
as young as 14; even younger children are known to have been
sometimes sent back by military commanders in the field.

18. There have been no reports of the systematic recruitment of persons
under 18 since 2002; on 11th
October 2007 Angola acceded to the Optional Protocol to the
Convention on the Rights of the Child on children in armed conflict,
thereby committing itself to refrain from the obligatory recruitment
of persons aged under 18; the minimum age for voluntary recruitment
had already been set at 18 by Decree No. 40/96 of 13th
December 1996. However there are two features which in combination
create considerable risks that juvenile recruitment may still, at
least occasionally, take place in practice. One is the continued
reliance of rusgas.
other is the very low rate of birth registration – estimated at 5%,
which means that many of those seized in rusgas
no means of proving their age.


Os cidadãos nacionais do sexo masculino com idade compreendida entre
os 20 e 45 anos. objectores de consciência, nos termos da lei, prestarão
Serviço Militar na modalidade do serviço cívico adequado a essa situação.

6 As disposições do número anterior são aplicáveis aos cidadãos do
sexo feminino, objectores de consciência, na situação a que se refere o artigo 24.? da
presente Lei.

7 O serviço cívico tem âmbito nacional e será objecto de regulamentação própria.

Attached file

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