The Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa (IHRDA)
filed a communication on behalf of Mr. Esmaila Conateh and 13 other
Gambians who were deported from Angola in March, April and May 2004, together with an estimated 126,247 other foreigners living in the mining country (Angola).Mr. Gaye Sowe, Executive Director of IHRDA made this disclosure in
a statement he delivered at the 57th commission of human and peoples’ rights in Banjul.
He said the deportees were expelled under a government programme
called ‘operacaobrilhante’ whose aim is to rid the mining areas of
foreigners. He said the complainants alleged that they were legally
resident in Angola and possessed the requisite work permits and
authorizations. Mr. Sowe added that in the process of expelling them, they were detained under grossly inhuman conditions. He said they were also denied access to due process to challenge the legality of their arrest, detention and deportation.
“The commission came to a decision on the communication in May 2008.
The commission found Angola in violation of several articles in the
African Charter. The commission consequently recommended that the
republic of Angola review its immigration policies and legislation,
policies and structures for detention and afford procedural safeguard
to persons detained. It also recommended that Angola allow the
commission, relevant international organizations, ICRS, NGOs and
concerned consulates to access detention centers, including places
where non-nationals are held,” said Gaye. He added that the commission finally recommended that Angola establishes a commission of inquiry to investigate circumstances surrounding the expulsion of the victims and duly compensate them.
However, according to him, Angola willfully refused to implement the
decision. He said IHRDA has visited the victims in Basse, Gambissara
and Banjul in the Gambia to document their living conditions. He noted that the victims are not gainfully employed and are living from hand to mouth. Mr. Sowe said some still bear the scars from being beaten by Angolan security officials and complain of occasional illness arising from the inhuman treatment they were subjected to.
Mr. Sowe noted that in considering communications, the African
commission has reiterated severally that remedies have to be
effective if victims of human rights violations are to receive
justice. He said IHRDA has made a statement about it in 2009 in Banjul during the 45th Ordinary Session of the commission.
“Therefore, once more, IHRDA urges the commission to follow up on the implementation of its decision in the communication. This would make the commission’s recommendations real in the lives of persons who have suffered violations of their rights. By so doing, the commission would be strengthening its protection mandate by ensuring that its decisions are implemented,” the executive director of IHRDA, Mr. Gaye Sowe concluded.