Angolan Journalist Faces Time in Prison for Exposing Alleged Human Rights Abuses in Mines
Any type of human rights violation is always a tragedy, but when it is connected directly to an industry that caters to and is enjoyed by an extremely privileged society, it is even more despicable and difficult to digest. This inability to tolerate injustices is what has driven one Angolan journalist, Rafael Marques de Morais, to investigate abuses that have been taking place in his country, particularly in the realm of oil and diamond mines. Despite the turn for the better that Angola had managed to take several years back, financially speaking, it has presently managed to decline as a country, with the child mortality rate constantly increasing. In 2011 Marques De Morais came out with a book depicting the atrocities occurring in his homeland. Now, four years later, he is looking at serving up to nine years in prison on grounds of defiling his country and its reputation.
The Price of Expressing Yourself
In the free world, many things are taken for granted. One such thing is the right to express yourself and your opinion. Doing just that, and thereby exposing many wrongdoings, has landed a brave Angolan into the center of an ongoing witch-hunt. In 2011, Rafael Marques De Morais wrote a book called Blood Diamonds: Torture and Corruption in Angola. Following the release of the book, Marques De Morais was sued for defamation. Though the charges were later dropped, due to the lack of evidence, the Angolan generals remained set upon putting an end to Marques De Morais’s reports that have been slowly but surely revealing secrets of Angola’s cruelty since 1999, when he released an article criticizing the president.
In his bold book, Marques De Morais recounted 500 cases of torture that occurred over an eighteen-month period in an Angolan diamond-mining district. Additionally, 100 deaths were reported to have taken place over the same period of time and in the identical location. Both the torture and killings were carried out by guards hired by a private security firm as well as by members of the Angolan Armed Forces, according to Marques De Morais’s testimony.
As of now, Marques De Morais is standing trial and facing up to nine years in prison and a $1.2 million fine. All of this simply because the journalist’s “actions” have lead him to be accused of nine charges of defamation. Although the (KPSC) Kimberley Process Certification Scheme might not be absolutely fool proof, it is an amazing step in the right direction that an international effort to eliminate the trade of conflict diamonds exists!
If this story has not shed some light regarding the severity of blood diamonds and all that relates to them, it is uncertain what will.