According to UNHCR, as of mid-2020 there were 80,698 refugees and asylum seekers in the country. Angola had 1,762 cases of COVID-19 as of 13 August, however there is little information about whether infections have been detected among the country’s refugee population. In late May, after a 60-day state of emergency, the government began loosening some public restrictions as part of a “State of Calamity” declaration. The country has subsequently experienced a sharp rise in cases, going from less than 100 cases in May to nearly 2,000 by August.
There appears to have been no public announcement about specific measures to protect asylum seekers and migrants, including those in detention centres. In the past, the GDP has identified various facilities that appear to be used largely for detaining migrants, asylum seekers, or other foreigners as part of immigration enforcement measures. However, the most recent reports about these centres date back several years. In 2017, the UNHCR reported that it was blocked from visiting detention centres. That same year, the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants released a report denouncing the conditions and length of detention in the facilities.
The country has announced measures taken in prisons. As part of the state of emergency put in place in late March, the country temporarily suspended prison visits. On 5 May, after Angola had released some 1,900 people from pre-trial detention, Human Rights Watch denounced what it regarded as insufficient measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in prisons. While on the one hand, measures were taken to reduce the overcrowding in penitentiary facilities, on the other, individuals were arrested and detained (around 300 people as of 1 May) for violating state of emergency rules. HRW called out the government for continuing to detain “hundreds of people in custody for low-level crimes, leading to a daily influx of new detainees. If not appropriately quarantined and monitored for Covid-19, these new arrivals could contribute to an outbreak in the prison system that prison authorities are ill-equipped to treat.” In a 11 August monthly report, the police said that more than 4,100 people had been detained in the past month.
- Human Rights Watch, “Angola’s Prisons Ill-Equipped to Curb Covid-19 Spread,” 5 May 2020, https://www.hrw.org/news/2020/05/05/angolas-prisons-ill-equipped-curb-covid-19-spread
- André Da Costa, “Les visites aux prisonniers seront interdites,” 21 March 2020, http://jornaldeangola.sapo.ao/politica/visitas-aos-reclusos-serao-interditadas
- Agencia Angola Press, “Public Calamity Situation already in force,” 26 May 2020, http://www.angop.ao/angola/en_us/noticias/politica/2020/4/22/Public-Calamity-Situation-already-force,c692e5be-68a0-41bf-b85b-ae4360033168.html
- UNHCR, Angola webpage, accessed on 13 August 2020, https://www.unhcr.org/angola.html
- Government of Angola, “En Trente Jours, Les Forces De L’Ordre Représentent Plus De 4000 Détenus Et 6000 Amendes,” 12 August 2020, https://governo.gov.ao/ao/noticias/em-trinta-dias-forcas-da-ordem-contabilizam-mais-de-4-mil-detidos-e-6-mil-multados/
- Chloé Lauvergnier, “’C’est une prison’ : le cri d’alarme d’un Rwandais dans un centre pour étrangers en Angola,“ 8 May 2019, https://observers.france24.com/fr/20190508-angola-prison-centre-detention-etrangers-rwandais
- WorldoMeter, “Coronavirus Cases: Angola,” accessed on 13 August 2020, https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/angola/
- Global Detention Project, Immigration Detention in Angola, June 2016, https://www.globaldetentionproject.org/countries/africa/angola
- A Dormitory inside the Trinta Detention Centre for Foreigners, east of Luanda, (France 24, “C’est une Prison: Le Cri d’Alarme d’un Rwandais dans un Centre pour Etrangers en Angola,” 8 May 2019, https://observers.france24.com/fr/20190508-angola-prison-centre-detention-etrangers-rwandais)