Angola: We, the candidates for trade-offs versus organized crime
By Serafim de Oliveira
Washington D.C. —Ending corruption in Angola will no doubt require many distinct approaches. Some crimes aimed at Angola and its citizens are perpetrated from inside and outside the country by Angolan criminals living abroad. Regardless of their location, these criminals act against the national and individuals’ interest.
Local authorities at home and abroad as well as ordinary citizens of foreign countries or in Angola can aid in the fight against these criminals, if they are informed and persuaded to do so. For example, members of the international community and regular citizens can use the local judicial process to limit or stop this criminal activity. Conceivably, regular citizens at home and abroad can use methods to detain or call attention to the criminal activity.
Ordinary citizen without judicial authority
In various contexts, the term “citizen’s arrest,” civil arrest, civil detention, and the voice of arrest are permissible remedies under U.S. law and other societies with similar legal statutes. A citizen’s arrest can be used without judicial authority and when acting in good faith by ordinary citizens faced with an act of criminal and moral crime. So, they detain the suspects and hand them over to the local authorities.
When used in full exercise of civil law, this mechanism can help improve the fight against corruption, organized crime, and other criminal behavior.
The power of citizen’s arrest promotes civic and social engagement of citizens, raises awareness among police officers, magistrates, and judges, and could improve the functioning of the national legal system.
Obstacles to the practical applicability of Citizen’s arrest
One of the biggest obstacles to the practical applicability of civil detention in Angola is the impunity enjoyed by white-collar criminals and more significant crimes. Many of these offenses are in connivance with local and political authorities.
These lawbreakers either adopt a low-profile lifestyle when in domestic residence, or take up residence abroad, depending on their financial capabilities.
Moreover, in some cases, these white-collar are often former senior civil servants, either current or formerly employed by the state. Thus, some of them have living expenses subsidized by the Angolan government.
Notably, Angola remains a closed society, shaped by a brutal, long-lasting civil war and deliberate social constraints primarily designed to limit fair and equitable distribution of national wealth.
Undoubtedly, to maintain this type of social environment, the ruling party frequently uses unimaginable repressive tactics against civil society, intimidation of political opponents, repression, and abridging the freedom of thought.
Incredibly, many of those who are suspected criminals and international fugitives take resources and sophisticated methods of repression to their respective destinations.
For instance, could an Angolan national victim take advantage of the citizen’s arrest initiatives in Brussels, Lisbon, London, Ottawa, Paris, and Washington, D.C. to confront a fellow countryman accused of committing horrendous crimes during the alleged coup of 27 May 1977 in Angola?
In Angola, silence is deafening, often gratified with positions in the Angolan government, large monetary sums or outrageous physical elimination (through poisoning, in general) perpetrated by our fellow citizens.
However, a more immediate solution is that these fugitive Angolan criminals could be confronted in their countries of residence, depending on the degree of their crimes.
Instigators of conflict in the diaspora
Some of these Angolan criminals are part of the current professionals of the counterintelligence services placed in our diplomatic core, international organizations, and former resident agents. Many of the latter are holders of permanent residence or citizenship in the countries of their residence and are the main instigators of disagreements and conflicts within the local diaspora and, at times, make life dark for critics of the ruling party-state regime. They are the so-called dormant cell groups, activated as needed.
Furthermore, with the collaboration of natives and foreigners residing in the host countries, they make their victims unemployable and potential candidates for trade- offs between hosting country’s authorities and Angola, often consisting of forced repatriation through character assassination and death threats. In other words, a harsh Angolan critic of the national government should be branded persona non grata in the country of residence with the help of local partners.
Current international political and economic conditions could mitigate criminal activities of Angolans living abroad. The aim is to deter their impunity while committing criminal offenses outside of Angola, including holding them accountable for former crimes against our country’s political, economic, and civil rights.
The general public, civil society, and the principal opposition political parties must inform the international community about criminal activities by Angolans within and outside their borders and the consequences for social peace, the integrity of state structures, and social coexistence.
The diaspora should recognize their role as one of the most significant actors in the country’s democratization process. It is imperative that Angolan communities abroad support a proactive dialogue among all parties involved in the country’s core issues and establish frequent, professional communication among themselves, Angola’s diplomatic representation, local authorities (including governing bodies and NGOs), and most importantly, the national civil society.
Serafim de Oliveira