The detention of the owner of Angola’s leading independent
newspaper Semanario Angolense, Graça Campos, has drawn intense criticism, writes
Gilberto Neto.

Several civil society organizations have appealed for authorities to
review the decision. t for the conviction of Graca Campos, appealing
authorities to review the decision. On October 3, a Luanda
court found Campos
guilty of slandering former Minister of Justice Paulo Tjipilica, now the
country’s ombudsman. He was sentenced to eight months in prison and fined the
equivalent of $250 000.

The Syndicate of Angolan Journalist (SJA) said it will assign a
lawyer to follow the case. “The syndicate is studying the situation and will
come up with strong action,” a statement said.

The judge decided not to allow an appeal against the ruling.

Associação Mãos Livres, a popular human rights NGO that includes lawyers
and media professionals, said it is against the decision that sent Graca Campos
“for a single crime: practicing the freedom of press”. The organization has appealed
to the UN Human Rights Council to pressure the Angolan Government to release
the journalist.

Journalists are also individually expressing their opposition to the
conviction of Semanario Angolense’s director and owner. “This is a theatre,”
observed Siona Casimiro, one of the journalists who witnessed the two-day
trial.

The reason for the conviction was initially unclear. Contrary to
initial reports, it has now become clear that the basis for the conviction was a
series of articles run in the popular paper a few years ago, which accused the
then minister of making it possible for foreigners to take back buildings they
possessed before the independence of the country, in 1975.