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

HRW: Egypt's Trial of Morsi ‘Badly Flawed’

Human Rights Watch says former Egypt leader's detention without charge for more than three weeks after his removal from office violated Egyptian law; government rejects criticism More

Photogallery Lancet Report Calls for Major Investment in Surgery

In its report published by The Lancet, panel of experts says people are dying from conditions easily treated in the operating room such as hernia, appendicitis, obstructed labor, and serious fractures More

Music Industry Under Sway of Digital Revolution

Millions of people in every corner of the Earth now can enjoy a vast variety and quantity of music in a way that has never before been possible 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.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs