LUANDA, May 21 – Angolan security and immigration forces have raped and tortured migrants during deportations of hundreds of thousands of people to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Human Rights Watch said Monday.
“Women and girls have been victims of sexual abuse including gang rape, and of sexual exploitation,” the group said in a report based on 211 interviews conducted since 2009.
“Beatings, torture and degrading and inhumane treatment of migrants were common practices during roundups, transportation to detention facilities and in custody,” it said.
Angola has deported around 400,000 illegal immigrants — most from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) — since 2003, according to UN data.
“Angola has a right to expel irregular migrants, but this does not justify denying them basic rights,” said Leslie Lefkow, the group’s deputy Africa director. “Torture, beatings and rape and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment violate both Angola’s law and international law.”
Angolan authorities have failed to investigate the allegations properly, the report said, after years of interviews in both nations’ capitals and along their shared border.
Scores of women spoke of sexual abuse at the hands of Angolan immigration and security officials, mostly in Condueji prison in the northern town of Dundo.
“Two … came into the cell and raped me, in the presence of my husband and my children,” one 30-year-old woman said.
“I had never been with a man before and suffered a lot. I cried, but once the first finished the next came over to me right afterwards,” said a 15-year-old girl.
Yet others spoke of torture, like a diamond digger burnt with a heated machete after he was captured at Angola’s northern mines.
Conditions at detention centres left inmates without food or water and having to perform bodily functions in their cells, they said in the report.
The organisation further lambasts Angola for failing to fulfil its promises to ratify international conventions on torture, migrants’ rights and human trafficking.
UN Secretary General for Human Rights Ivan Simonovic earlier this month warned Angola to respect the human rights of the Congolese during expulsions.