Angola frees journalists arrested at anti-govt protests

Three Angolan journalists arrested while covering weekend anti-government protests were freed on Monday without charge, media and human rights watchdogs said.

Angolan police arrested dozens of protesters, including journalists covering the demonstrations which were staged in Luanda on Saturday to demand the holding of local elections which have been postponed by the coronavirus pandemic.

Eight media workers were roughed up, assaulted or detained.

Two freelancers who contribute to AFP were also targeted, with one assaulted and briefly detained, while another was ordered to delete video footage of the demonstrations.

Three Radio Essencial journalists and their driver were held until their release on Monday.

They were let free without charge, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and Human Rights Watch said.

CPJ’s Africa Program coordinator Angela Quintal said it was “unacceptable that the journalists were targeted in this way”.

She “urged the Angolan government to allow journalists to work freely without the fear of being harassed, assaulted and/or detained”.

HRW researcher Zenaida Machado told AFP the journalists “should never have been arrested in first place”.

“I hope this release will discourage police officers from harassing and arresting journalists for doing their job,” she added.

Meantime, more than 100 protesters still in detention, appeared in court and a decision on their fate is expected on Tuesday.

HRW has called on the authorities in the oil-rich southern African country to release all the protesters arrested at the weekend.