ANGOLA: Professor on trial in Cabinda

A professor is among three prominent rights advocates facing politically motivated criminal charges by the Angolan government following an attack on 8 January in Cabinda on Togolese footballers participating in the African Cup of Nations, Human Rights Watch reported on 23 June.

Belchoir Lanso Tai, a university professor, Father Raul Tai, a Catholic priest, and Francisco Luemba, a lawyer, face a criminal court in Cabinda for unspecified "other crimes against the security of the state". The separatist guerrilla movement Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC) has claimed responsibility for the attack.

The three intellectuals have been accused of being the 'mentors' of the 8 January attack, based on their participation in an allegedly 'illegal' meeting with FLEC officials last year. But Human Rights Watch claims to have information the meetings were concerned with opening constructive dialogue with FLEC and had the support of senior government officials.

Human Rights Watch believes the attack is being used to justify a crackdown on Cabindan civil society, particularly against human rights defenders and government critics.

Human Rights Watch has called on the Angolan government to end the use of such state security laws to target peaceful critics and to conduct a credible, impartial and transparent investigation into the January attack.