Congolese migrants in Angola abused during expulsions -HRW

May 21, 2012

Migrant women and girls in Angola who lack adequate legal documents have been raped and sexually exploited during expulsions carried out by Angolan security forces, a human rights group said.

Human Rights Watch’s (HRW) report – “’If You Come Back We Will Kill You’: Sexual Violence and Other Abuses against Congolese Migrants during Expulsions from Angola” – denounced sexual violence, children being forced to witness such abuses, arbitrary beatings and other rights violations suffered by such Congolese migrants in detention centres in Angola.

Detainees were kept in overcrowded cells with no basic sanitation systems and with little food or clean water to drink and wash, the report added.

“The ‘military’ disturbed us all the time to have sex with us,” said a 27-year-old Congolese woman expelled from Angola in 2011. “Women accepted due to the suffering. There was nothing to either eat or drink or water to wash,” she added.

“Sometimes they brought biscuits for the children, but only for the women who accepted having sex with them.”

More than100 victims and witnesses to abuses were interviewed by HRW, during expulsions from the Cabinda enclave and the diamond-rich Lunda Norte province in Angola to the Congolese provinces of Bas-Congo and Kasai-Occidental, between 2009 and 2011.

Migrants were rounded up in mining and urban areas, and detained in appalling conditions in prisons temporarily serving as detention centres where abuses were committed by members of various groups of security forces, including the Angolan Armed Forces (FAA), the National Police, and immigration and border officials, HRW said.

HRW accused Angolan authorities of having so far failed to carry out thorough and credible investigations into the allegations, and to prosecute perpetrators.

Since 2003, Angola has carried out a sustained effort to expel migrants – the majority of whom are citizens of the Democratic Republic of Congo – saying this is done to protect national security, HRW said.

Migrants from conflict-torn DRC cross into Angola to work in diamond mines and many more flocked into the country after large oil reservoirs were found off Angola’s coast after the end of the civil war in 2002.

In recent years the Angolan government has regularly denied and played down allegations of abuses during expulsions, despite concerns expressed by international and local organizations including the United Nations, HRW said.

In 2011, 100,000 migrants were expelled from Angola, according to United Nations estimates cited in the report.

Mass deportations of migrants have continued in 2012, with over 5,000 people expelled in the first two weeks of March from Cabinda and Soyo city, HRW said, citing Congolese authorities.

(Editing by Rebekah Curtis)

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