Cablegate: Engaging Angola to Get Serious On Protecting Human

DE RUEHLU #0368/01 1291903
P 081903Z MAY 08



E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (SBU) Summary: During the Ambassador's May 7 call on
Minister of the Interior, General Roberto Leal Monteiro
"Ngongo," the Minister acknowledged Angola's human rights
challenges and the need for the GRA to tell more effectively
how it intends to tackle these problems. He accepted that
the impending closure of the U.N. Human Rights Office made
this necessity even more urgent. Specifically, Mozena urged
that the GRA release publicly its promised investigation of
human rights abuses against illegal Congolese immigrants (as
reported by Medecins Sans Frontieres(MSF)) and on
politically-motivated killings of expatriates in Cabinda.
Ngongo was not forthcoming on either. Ngongo welcomed the
Ambassador's invitation for the Ministry to send an observer
to the monthly meetings of Luanda's Overseas Security
Advisory Council (OSAC). End Summary.

Our Pitch on Human Rights

2. (SBU) During his May 7 call on Minister Ngongo, Ambassador
Mozena said it was in the GRA's interest to engage domestic
audiences and the international community more vigorously to
acknowledge Angola's human rights problems and to describe
steps Angola has taken and intends to take to protect human
rights and investigate alleged abuses. Mozena said the
Ministry should not be afraid to speak openly with NGOs,
including those the GRA may not especially like, and that it
should increase public engagement through the press. Ngongo
acknowledged Angola's many human rights challenges and agreed
that the absence of information concerning Angolan actions to
protect human rights allows critics to shape the dialogue
with negative impressions that may not tell the whole story.
The Ambassador extended an invitation to the Minister to
provide input to the annual human rights report, which offers
an objective analysis of the human rights situation. He
added it was especially important for Angola to engage
publicly on these issues, given the government's recent
decision to close the UN Human Rights Office in Angola. At
the Minister's suggestion, we will pursue our human rights
agenda with the Vice Minister for the Protection of Human

Invitation to Observe OSAC

3. (SBU) The Ambassador extended an invitation to Ngongo to
send a representative of his Ministry, which bears primary
responsibility for public security, to the monthly meetings
of Luanda's Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC).
Ngongo accepted the offer and said he would appoint a liaison
soon after receiving an official invitation. Ngongo added
that the opportunity to participate as an observer in OSAC
would help the Ministry better understand and address the
security concerns of U.S. companies.

Ngongo Offers No Rebuttal to MSF Report

4. (SBU) The Ambassador raised U.S. concerns that the
promised GRA investigation into alleged human rights
violations against illegal Congolese immigrants outlined in
the December 2007 Medecins Sans Frontieres report had not
been released. Ngongo did not confirm that an investigation
had been conducted or whether the results would ever be
released. He did explain the difficulties Angola faces in
controlling its porous border along the DRC against economic
migrants drawn to the alluvial diamond mines. He said the
events discussed in the MSF report involved the repatriation
of over 40,000 Congolese, some of whom resisted deportation.
Ngongo said it was understandable that the police would
respond to resistance with some force. Despite the
Ambassador's repeated queries, Ngongo did not address the
atrocities mentioned in the report, and he blamed the illegal
immigration problem on organized rings of immigrant
smugglers. Ngongo suggested that some critics of the
deportations included members of the DRC government involved
in the trafficking of workers to take advantage of the
unregulated alluvial diamond mines in Angola.

Violence in Cabinda

5. (SBU) Ngongo said he is the GRA's designated liaison with
Cabinda. He told the Ambassador he knows the region well,
especially since his mother is from Cabinda. Ngongo said he
is aware that pockets of instability exist in Cabinda and
that he understands the concerns of businesses based there.

LUANDA 00000368 002 OF 002

He firmly declared that the armed conflict in Cabinda ended
with the 2006 Memorandum of Understanding and that the
current violence was most likely caused by well- funded
individual actors who organized groups of criminals to carry
out mischief. He said some of the criminals were likely
former members of disbanded Cabinda-based guerrilla groups.
Ngongo did not say how the organizers funded their
operations, or what they hoped to gain from the violence
other than to embarrass the government or influence in some
way upcoming elections. Concerning the December 2007 death
of the Brazilian working for a U.S. company, Ngongo said the
trial for five criminals responsible for the attack had begun
on May 6. It appeared, he told the Ambassador, that the ring
leader was an Angolan journalist who had arranged the theft
of military arms from a local depot. Ngongo went out of his
way to stress that the suspect was an Angolan first and a
journalist second. He did not want to leave the impression
with the Ambassador that the police routinely arrested
journalists without cause. He did not respond to the
Ambassador's query as to when the government's promised
investigation into the Brazilian's murder in Cabinda would be

--------------------------------------------- --------
Ngongo: Angolans Were Raised in a Culture of Violence
--------------------------------------------- --------

6. (SBU) Throughout his discussion with the Ambassador,
Ngongo stressed that successive generations of Angolans have
grown up in a culture of violence. Beginning with slavery
and the oppression of colonization, Ngongo said the struggle
for liberation and then Angola's terrible civil war created a
social dynamic based on conflict and violence. Ngongo told
the Ambassador this culture of violence affects how people,
including the police, handle conflict. He added that he
understands that adjustments are needed, and he is working to
train the police force on the importance of protecting human
rights. Ngongo said it will take time to change the mindset
of the Angolan people and to create a culture of peace.
Ngongo asked for patience from the international community as
Angola makes this transition.


7. (SBU) The meeting with Ngongo was frank, substantive, and
collegial, in spite of the difficult (from the Angolan
perspective) issues covered. We hope the Ministry will send
an observer to participate in the monthly OSAC meetings,
which will further strengthen that body. The Minister's
comments concerning the repatriation of illegal Congolese
immigrants and Cabinda were less encouraging. We will
continue to engage the Ministry, with the aim that they will
come to see that it is to the GRA's advantage to discuss
openly and frankly Angola's human rights and security
challenges and what its government intends to do to overcome
these problems.

© Scoop Media

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