Angola: Victory for civil society as court strikes down NGO law
In response to the Angolan Constitutional Tribunal’s decision to declare unconstitutional the Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Presidential Decree, a piece of legislation that sought to monitor the registration and financial support of NGOs, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa, Deprose Muchena said: “The court’s judgement is a positive step forward that gives Angolan authorities a second chance to go back and work together with local NGOs to build a safe and enabling environment for civil society.
“From the beginning, Amnesty International and others have stated plainly that this legislation was designed to stifle the vital work of human rights defenders and civil society organizations in Angola.
“Angolan authorities must see NGOs as partners working in the public interest, not as enemies of the state.”
The NGO Presidential Decree was enacted in March 2015. In declaring it unconstitutional in a court judgement dated 11 July but made public today, the court stated the procedure for its approval should have been done through the National Assembly.
The decree empowered the Public Prosecutor’s Office to suspend the activities of national and international NGOs on suspicion of money laundering, or illegal or harmful acts against “Angola’s sovereignty and integrity” – but there were widespread fears that these offences would be interpreted over-broadly in practice, resulting in a crackdown on civil society.