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Cablegate: Reining in Police Excesses

VZCZCXYZ0007
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHLU #0023 0100721
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 100721Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY LUANDA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4528
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

UNCLAS LUANDA 000023

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

C O R R E C T E D C O P Y (ADDING CAPTION)

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM AO
SUBJECT: REINING IN POLICE EXCESSES


1. (SBU) SUMMARY: The Angolan national police have responded
quickly to a recent spate of high-profile police shootings of
unarmed civilians. Officers involved were dismissed and face
possible criminal charges, and two high-ranking commanders
were transferred. Although this response will not be enough
to restore public faith in a force that often acts with
impunity, it is a step in the right direction. END SUMMARY

2. (SBU) Minister of Interior Robert Monteiro promised swift
action was promised by after six civilians were gunned down
by police in the Luanda metro area in the last two weeks of
December 2007. The internal inquiry into the incidents laid
blame on officer error, poor training, and lax supervision.
As a result, two police commandants were relieved of their
supervisory duties and transferred to another location, but
remain with the police force. Police spokesmen confirmed
that the officers involved in the most high-profile incident,
the shooting death of two actors as they prepared to film a
movie scene in a crime-ridden section of Luanda, were
dismissed from the force, though they have the right to
appeal their dismissal. In addition, the Attorney General's
office is considering criminal charges against the officers.
The police have pledged to make information on the cases
public should criminal charges be filed.

3. (U) The December 17th shooting of two film actors garnered
instant international media attention; the police reportedly
mistook the actors for armed robbers, fired without warning
until stopped by the frantic movie director, then left the
scene without rendering medical aid. The director had
notified local police of planned filming in the area, and the
unloaded AK47s carried by the actors were on loan from the
national police.

4. (SBU) Local pundits allege that the officers' "shoot
first, ask questions later" attitude is a direct result of
"Operation Tango," the police operation to reduce crime on
Luanda's increasingly violent streets. Although Operation
Tango was designed to prevent street crime and keep Luanda
from "becoming like Johannesburg," many believe the police
were given indirect orders to intimidate the public to
generate fear and instant obedience to police orders. Other
police-related killings last December involved unarmed
civilians who were verbally resisting police authority. A
female street vendor was killed when she refused to stop
selling her goods in front of a closed public market; a
neighborhood gym owner was killed when he argued with police
while in a line for fuel; and two youths were killed in the
open-air Roque Santiero market during a police raid on
vendors of pirated DVDs.

5. (SBU) COMMENT: While the Ministry of Interior's quick
inquiry and response are positive first steps, they do little
to restore faith of the populace in a police force that often
acts with impunity and fails to investigate acts of unlawful
force. The Embassy will continue to partner with the UN
Human Rights Office to encourage the transparent and open
investigation of police excesses, including a trial and
conviction should charges be filed. END COMMENT
MOZENA

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