May 27, 2004

Cabinda: Amnesty International report 2004

Extract of the Amnesty International report, concerning the Cabinda Human Rights situation

Factions of the Frente de Libertação do Enclave de Cabinda (FLEC), Front for the Liberation of Cabinda Enclave, suffered heavy losses in a major government offensive in late 2002 and early 2003. The fighting caused severe displacement. Low-level conflict continued in northern Cabinda throughout the year. Government forces said they had released thousands of civilian FLEC captives. In March, state-controlled radio called on soldiers and members of the paramilitary Rapid Intervention Police to "mercilessly annihilate" FLEC fighters, claiming that they had murdered, maimed and tortured civilians, and "press-ganged" and "used them as slaves".

AI received some reports of FLEC abuses, but many more of human rights violations by government forces. Government soldiers reportedly destroyed at least 15 villages in the Buco Zau, Necuto and Belize areas, displacing and killing villagers. Soldiers posted in villages formerly under FLEC control allegedly accompanied villagers to their fields, impeding their work and increasing food shortage.

A government soldier shot dead two teenage girls in a village in Belize municipality during the temporary absence of their father in February. The soldier had been staying in their home and the girls had cooked his meals. Villagers said that he fired three shots at the younger girl, then shot her sister as she was running away.

Soldiers arrested Eduardo Brás while he was fishing near Caio Caliado village in October. The following day they entered Caio Caliado and arrested and beat his brother and four other men. Days later, seven soldiers arrested José Capita, also from Caio Caliado, at his home in Cabinda city. At the end of 2003 their families had no news of the seven men.

In a report in November, local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) detailed over 100 cases of arbitrary arrest, torture, rape, extrajudicial execution and "disappearance" in 2003. The provincial civilian authorities investigated some of the allegations, but there was no adequate response from military or civilian authorities in central government to the reports of violations of human rights and international humanitarian law by military personnel.

Source: Amnesty International