Rafael Marques de Morais is to go on trial before Judge Adriano Cerveira Baptista in the Luanda Provincial Court on December 15. Marques de Morais is charged with criminal libel for having exposed human rights abuses in the diamond-producing province of Lunda Norte in north-eastern Angola, Maka Angola reports.
The case concerns the book Diamantes de Sangue: Tortura e Corrupção em Angola (Blood Diamonds: Torture and Corruption in Angola), written by the accused and published in Portugal in September 2011. The book recounts in detail more than 500 cases of torture and 100 killings carried out in a period of 18 months in the districts of Cuango and Xá-Muteba. According to statements by victims and witnesses, these abuses were carried out by guards from the private security firm Teleservice, which provides security service to SMC, and by soldiers of the Angolan Armed Forces (FAA).
After the publication of the book the author filed a complaint with the Angolan Attorney General on 14 November 2011. He called on the authorities to investigate the moral responsibility of the generals, as the owners of Teleservice and SMC, for the abuses. As the owners of the company Lumanhe, which owns 21 percent of SMC, the generals made a contractual commitment to “safeguard the company’s relationship with the local community, contributing to the social stability and harmonious development of the project in the contracted area.” In reality, the relationship has been marked by deepening poverty and violence.
Marques is an award-winning journalist and human rights activist, specializing in political economy, the diamond industry, and government corruption. A former Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow, his writings have helped set the agenda for political debate in Angola by exposing abuses of power and endemic corruption through his journalism and his work with Maka Angola, an Angolan platform, supported by the National Endowment for Democracy.