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Amnesty Protests Angola Forced Evictions

The human rights group Amnesty International is protesting the forced eviction of thousands of people in Angola from their homes, some of them at the request of the Catholic Church. The group says it is concerned that many families have been living without shelter in the ruins of their demolished houses. Correspondent Scott Bobb reports from our Southern Africa bureau in Johannesburg.

Amnesty International Monday issued a report on the forced eviction of some ten thousand families in the past six years in order to make way for large-scale housing projects.

The human rights organization's researcher for Angola, Maluka-Anne Miti, says the evictions are a violation of the African Charter to which Angola is a party.

"These forced evictions are a human rights violation and they were carried out without prior consultation, without notification and without any legal recourse for the people who were forcibly evicted," said Miti.

Miti says the evictions began six years ago. In some areas, the victims had no where to go, so they built shelters from the ruins of their homes, which were also demolished.

In many cases, people who had been living on the land since the Angolan civil war were evicted in order to make way for housing development projects.

In one case, the government returned to the Catholic Church land that had been seized during the socialist era. Amnesty International reports that Church leaders said they asked the government to provide other land to those were evicted.

Miti says the Angolan government has acknowledged the right of those evicted to compensation but to date it has not delivered.

She accuses the government of using excessive force in many of the evictions.

"Police and sometimes members of the armed forces of Angola took part in the forced evictions and they beat some people who were resisting, [and] they arrested human rights defenders who were trying to prevent the demolitions and forced evictions," she said.

Amnesty International is calling on the Angolan government to stop all forced evictions, to ensure that adequate housing is provided before any evictions occur and to compensate those forcibly moved.