News / Africa

Rights Group: Angola’s Vendor Crackdown Part of Pattern

Hawkers walk past each other in the capital  Luanda, Aug. 28, 2012.
Hawkers walk past each other in the capital Luanda, Aug. 28, 2012.
Anita Powell
— A human rights watchdog said police in Angola are cracking down on impoverished street vendors in the capital - attacking them, demanding bribes and moving them out of their spots. Human Rights Watch officials said this is a symptom of wider repression in the oil-rich southern African nation. 
 
For the last year, authorities in Angola’s capital have taken a so-called "clean-up" operation to what rights groups say is an abusive level -- harassing, attacking and brutalizing the poorest of the poor in southern Africa’s biggest oil producer.
 
That operation has impacted a group that has very little say in how things are run in Angola: street vendors who peddle their wares and are too poor to afford permanent structures.
 
Leslie Lefkow, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Africa division, said the clean-up itself isn’t the problem -- it’s the way it’s being done.  “Many of these street vendors are women and girls.  They are among Angola’s poorest people, they are selling bags of water, or cookies, or roasted corn, or peanuts, things like this, making very little income -- dollars a day.  And the street vendors are living in fear because the police are mounting almost daily operations; they descend on these street markets and beat everyone in sight, including pregnant women," he said. "Women with girls, and often confiscate their goods or demand bribes to let the women and girls leave.”
 
The governor of Luanda announced the initiative in October 2012.  Officials said the move would reduce the informal sector in a nation still struggling to piece itself together after a 27-year-long civil war that ended in 2002.  Authorities at the time promised to build new markets for the vendors, though those have yet to appear.  

Lefkow said that there are other hurdles that the government seems unwilling to address. “The problem is, is that there are a number of obstacles for these people who are in the informal sector to actually work formally in markets.  Even if they have the money to pay fees to get a license, for example, many of them don’t even have identity documents," he noted. "They’ve been living around Luanda for many years.  Many of them fled the civil war in Angola and came from other areas.  And the government has done virtually nothing to help these people get identity documents which are key for them to be able to work and live legally and enjoy the benefits of working in the formal sector.”
 
The government’s official news portal does not appear to have covered these operations.  No officials or street vendors could be reached, but the Human Rights Watch report includes numerous accounts from vendors.
 
Protests have been simmering on a low level in Angola since 2011, in part inspired by the Arab Spring.  One of the groups protesting is the Angolan Revolutionary Movement, which accuses President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos of human rights abuses and mismanaging oil revenues in his 34 years in power.
 
Despite the nation’s vast oil wealth, many Angolans remain desperately poor.  The World Bank said the average life expectancy is just 51 years, and UNICEF said more than half the population lives below the poverty level - set at $1.25 per day.

You May Like

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Dr. Etuka Obinwa from: U.S
October 05, 2013 2:09 PM
Just like other countries, corruption once more is rearing its ugly head. But its head must to be cut off.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid