Allard Prize for International Integrity Calls for End to Prosecution of Rafael Marques de Morais

MENA
Rule of Law

Allard Prize for International Integrity Calls for End to Prosecution of Rafael Marques de Morais

 

PRESS RELEASE
DATE: July 9, 2017
MEDIA CONTACT:  Audrey Baker, (510) 550-8173/ audrey@fcpcommunications.com

 

Allard Prize for International Integrity Calls for End to Prosecution of
Rafael Marques de Morais

The Allard Prize for International Integrity strongly condemns the recent charges filed against Angolan journalist and human rights defender Rafael Marques de Morais and Angolan journalist Brás Lourenço. Mr. Marques de Morais was a co-recipient of the 2015 Allard Prize for International Integrity.

The Allard Prize calls upon the Government of Angola to respect Mr. Marques de Morais and Mr. Brás Lourenço’s internationally-protected rights to freedom of expression and to promptly and unconditionally drop the charges against them. If the charges are not dropped, the Allard Prize requests that the Angolan government uphold its international obligations to ensure that both journalists are afforded their internationally-guaranteed rights to due process and a fair trial.

Supported by numerous human rights lawyers and educators and individuals with a deep and longstanding commitment to Africa, the Allard Prize has asked the Canadian Ambassador to Angola, Mr. Kumar Gupta, to monitor the charges against Mr. Marques de Morais and Mr. Brás Lourenço. In response, the Embassy of Canada in Zimbabwe (accredited to Angola) has contacted Mr. Marques de Morais and regional civil society organizations and other country missions with resident embassies in Angola to obtain further information and assess next steps.

Mr. Marques de Morais faces criminal prosecution, apparently brought in retaliation for his criticism and exposure of government corruption. His sentence could be over nine years in prison if convicted on the current criminal charges against him, which include crimes against state security and insulting a public authority.  The Angolan Attorney General, João Maria de Sousa, acting as a private citizen, has also filed three additional charges against Mr. Marques de Morais in a civil suit, accusing him of abuse of press freedom, defamation and injury.

Human rights advocates maintain that these charges are intended to prevent and/or chill individuals and organizations from criticizing the existing government in the lead-up to the Angolan election, scheduled to take place on August 23, 2017. Indeed, none of the charges appear to be based on alleged illegal activity, but instead, are based on the lawful practice of writing and disseminating news articles that address lawful topics of public interest and concern.

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About Rafael Marque de Morais

Rafael Marques de Morais was a co-recipient of the 2015 Allard Prize, awarded for his body of work exposing corruption in Angola, and has earned other high-profile international awards for his investigative work. He is currently editor of an anti-corruption watchdog site, Maka Angola, which focuses on investigating and publishing citizen’s complaints about corruption and human rights violations in Angola. Given its reputation for reporting unbiased news, Maka Angola has the largest Facebook following of any news outlet in the country.

 

About the Allard Prize for International Integrity

Established in October 2012 and funded by alumnus Mr. Peter A. Allard, Q.C., the Allard Prize for International Integrity is awarded biennially to an individual, movement or organization that has shown exceptional courage and leadership in combating corruption and promoting human rights, especially through promoting transparency, accountability and the Rule of Law. After a comprehensive nomination and selection process, this year’s three finalists were selected from 244 nominations from 70 countries around the world.

 

The Allard Prize is administered by the Peter A. Allard School of Law and steered by the Allard Prize Committee, composed of representatives of both the Allard School of Law and the private sector, in consultation with the Allard Prize Advisory Board, composed of members of the anti-corruption and human rights communities worldwide. Learn more at: www.allardprize.org.