Angolan cops routinely beat street hawkers – HRW
30 September 2013, 17:55
Luanda - Angolan police frequently beat and extort street
vendors, especially women and children, who are falling victim to a government
push to stamp out the informal sector, Human Rights Watch said on Monday.
The New York-based rights group said the abuses include
arbitrary arrest and were most likely to happen to the thousands of women known
as 'zungueiras', many of them pregnant or carrying children, who eke out a
living in the capital, Luanda.
Africa's second biggest oil-producer after Nigeria, Angola
has posted rapid growth since the end of a 27-year civil war in 2002, but
long-serving President Jose Eduardo dos Santos is routinely accused of doing
too little to fight poverty or respect human rights.
"Street traders in Luanda experience daily roundups by
police and government inspectors who routinely use excessive force and subject
traders to humiliating and degrading treatment," the group said in a
Requests for comment from the government and police went
HRW said the abuse had increased since October 2012, when
the government announced measures to end informal trading by removing hawkers
from the streets, registering them, and moving them to new or renovated formal
Many vendors want to obtain licences but cannot do so as
they do not have identity cards, while those who have applied for the permits
found the process bureaucratic, opaque and inaccessible, it added.
Journalists, activists and witnesses who seek to document
the abuses in what is one of Africa's most authoritarian states have also been
harassed and arrested, it said.
The rights group urged the government to end the abuse,
which also involves government inspectors, discipline those responsible and
supervise further inspections.
Dos Santos has been in power since 1979 and has dominated
elections since the end of the war. He has promised to distribute Angola's
wealth and create jobs in an economy which remains heavily dependent on oil.