1. The communication is jointly filed by UIDH, FIDH, RADDHO, ONDH and AMDE
All these NG0s are acting in this case on behalf of certain West African
nationals expelled from Angola in 1996. According to the complainants,
between April and September 1996, the Angolan government rounded up and
expelled West African nationals on its territory. These illegal expulsions
were preceded by acts of brutality committed against Senegalese, Malian,
Gambian, Mauritanian and other nationals. Those affected lost in the process
2. The complainants maintain that. the Angolan State violated the provisions
of articles 2, 7 paragraph 1 a, 12 paragraphs 4 and 5 of the African Charter
on Human and Peoples' Rights.
3. The communication is not dated, but it was received during the 20th
session of the Commission, held in Grand Bay, Mauritius in October, 1996.
4. On 24 October 1996 the Secretariat acknowledged receipt of the
5. On 19 December 1996 the Secretariat notified the Angolan government of
6. During its 21st Session in Nouakchott (Mauritania) in April 1997, the
Commission declared the communication admissible.
7. The government and the complainants were informed of this decision on 23
8. At the 22nd Session in November 1997, the Commission ruled on the merits
of the case.
9. The Commission considered the issue of admissibility of this
communication on the basis of information furnished by the complainants. It
deplores the fact that the defendant State did not respond to the
notification sent to it on 19 December 1996, following the decision of the
seizure of the Commission.
10. Article 57 of the Charter implicitly indicates that the State Party to
the said Charter against which allegation of human rights violations are
levelled is required to consider them in good faith and to furnish the
Commission with all information at its disposal to enable the latter to come
to an equitable decision. In this case, in view of the defendant State's
refusal to cooperate with the Commission, the latter can only give more
weight to the accusations made by the complainants and this on the basis of
the evidence furnished by them.
11. The evidence shows that between April and September 1996, the government
of the Republic of Angola embarked on mass expulsion of aliens from its
territory, and that these expulsions were illegal and arbitrary, and in
violation of article 12, paragraphs 4 and 5 of the African Charter on Human
and Peoples' Rights.
12. According to information at the disposal of the Commission, it appears
that those expelled did not have the possibility to challenge their
expulsion in court. In communication No: 71/92 "Rencontre Africaine pour la
Defense des Droits de I'Homme vs. Zambia "(20th Session, October 1996), the
Commission was of the view that "the massive nature of the arrests, the fact
that the victims were kept in detention before the expulsions and the pace
with which they were carded out did not leave and opportunity to the
complainants to establish the illegality of these acts before the Courts.”
In view of the foregoing, the Commission notes that local remedies were not
accessible to the complainants.
13. On these grounds, the Commission declared the communication admissible.
14. Article 12 paragraph 4 stipulates that a non-national legally admitted
in a territory of a State party to the present Charter may only be expelled
from it by virtue of a decision taken in accordance with the law. Paragraph
5 of the same article stipulates that "the mass expulsion of non nationals
shall be prohibited. Mass expulsion shall be that which is aimed at
national, racial, ethnic or religious groups."
15. In communication 71/92 cited here above, the Commission indicated that
"mass expulsion was a special threat to human rights. A government action
specially directed at specific national, racial ethnic or religious groups
is generally qualified as discriminatory in the sense that, none of its
characteristics has any legal basis or could constitute a source of
16. The Commission concedes that African States in general and the Republic
of Angola in particular are faced with many challenges, mainly economic. In
the face of such difficulties, States often resort to radical measures aimed
at protecting their nationals and their economies from non-nationals.
Whatever the circumstances may be, however, such measures should not be
taken at the detriment of the enjoyment of human rights. Mass expulsions of
any category of persons, whether on the basis of nationality, religion,
ethnic, racial or other considerations "constitute a special violation of
17. This type of deportations calls into question a whole series of rights
recognised and guaranteed in the Charter; such as the right to property
(article 14), the right to work (article 15), the right to education
(article 17 paragraph 1) and results in the violation by the State of its
obligations under article 18 paragraph 1 which stipulates that "the family
shall be the natural unit and basis of society. It shall be protected by the
State which shall take care of its physical and moral health". By deporting
the victims, thus separating some of them from their families, the Defendant
State has violated and violates the letter of this text.
18. Article 2 of the Charter emphatically stipulates that "Every individual
shall be entitled to the enjoyment of the rights and freedoms recognised and
guaranteed in the present Charter without distinction of any kind such as
race, ethnic group, colour, sex, language, religion, political or any other
opinion, national and social origin, fortune, birth or other status." This
text obligates States Parties to ensure that persons living on their
territory, are they their nationals or non-nationals enjoy the rights
guaranteed in the Charter. In this case, the victim’s rights to equality
before the law were trampled on because of their origin.
19. It emerges from the case file that the victims did not have the
opportunity to challenge the matter before the competent jurisdictions which
should have ruled on their detention, as well as on the regularity and
legality of the decision to expel them by the Angolan government.
Consequently, Article 7, paragraph 1 (a) of the Charter [has been violated].
20. The Commission does not wish to call into question nor is it calling
into question the right of any State to take legal action against illegal
immigrants and deport them to their countries of origin, if the competent
courts so decide. It is however of the view that it is unacceptable to
deport individuals without giving them the possibility to plead their case
before the competent national courts as this is contrary to the spirit and
letter of the Charter and international law.
ON THESE GROUNDS, THE COMMISSION
1. Declares that the deportation of the victims constitute a violation of
articles 2, 7 paragraph 1(a), 12 paragraphs 4 and 5 as well as articles 14
and 18 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights.
2. With regards to damages for prejudice suffered, it urges the Angolan
government and the complainants to draw all the legal consequences arising
from the present decision.
Taken at the 22nd Ordinary Session, Banjul (Gambia), on 11 November 1997.