Angola was a signatory to several international human
conventions, including the Convention on the Political
Women of 1953, the Convention on the Elimination of All
Discrimination against Women, the Geneva Conventions of
Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War and the
Civilian Persons in Time of War, and the Convention and
Relating to the Status of Refugees of 1967. However, as of
Angola was not a signatory to the Slavery Conventions of
1956; the Genocide Convention of 1948; or the
Conventions on Civil and Political Rights and on Economic,
and Cultural Rights of 1966.
Although Angola had acceded to such conventions, and
Constitution guarantees most human rights, actual
subject to severe abridgments, qualifications, and
practices. A human rights organization, Freedom House,
gave Angola the lowest ratings on its scale of political
civil liberties, and The Economist World Human Rights
assigned Angola an overall rating of "poor." Amnesty
and the United States Department of State also issued
highly critical of human rights practices in Angola.
The lack or disregard of international human rights
in Angola was evident in several respects. Arbitrary
imprisonment without due process were among the most
Although Angolan law limited the amount of time one could
detained without charge, there did not appear to be a
period within which a suspect had to be tried, and as many
several hundred political prisoners may have been detained
years without trial. The regional military councils had
authority to impose restrictions on the movement of people
material, to requisition supplies and labor without
and to try crimes against state security. The BPV also had
functions relating to maintenance of public order, the
which was not subject to normal judicial safeguards and
Constitutional protections of the inviolability of the
privacy of correspondence were routinely ignored by
authorities, who made arbitrary home searches, censored
correspondence, and monitored private communications.
executions of political prisoners, especially those
supporting UNITA or perpetrating "economic crimes,"
despite international protests and periodic
reorganizations of the
security services. The government maintained strict
not tolerate criticism or opposition, and denied freedom
assembly to any group that was not sanctioned or sponsored
MPLA-PT. UNITA alleged that compulsory military service
out as punishment by the Ministry of State Security and
Furthermore, the government did not permit the
Committee of the Red Cross access to persons arrested for
related to internal security or military conflict.
Amnesty International also reported numerous instances
torture during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Ministry of
Security officials were reported to have permitted or
torture of criminals and political prisoners by such
beating, whipping, and electric shock. Political detainees
for offenses such as criticizing government policies were
of food and water for several days and subjected to
severe beatings during interrogation and confinement.
allegations of torture and mistreatment remained common in
the mid1980s , such practices did not appear to have been
There is voluminous material available on Angola's
history and contemporary national security affairs. The
independence struggle is thoroughly examined in John A.
two-volume The Angolan Revolution. The civil war of
is covered by some of the excellent essays in Southern
since the Portuguese Coup, edited by John Seiler. The
dimension of the civil war is treated in Charles K.
Foreign Intervention in Civil War, Arthur Jay
The Angolan War, and Ernest Harsch and Tony
Angola: The Hidden History of Washington's War.
The UNITA movement has been extensively studied as
sympathetic treatment is Fred Bridgland's Jonas
excellent politico-military analyses of the UNITA
Donald J. Alberts's "Armed Struggle in Angola" in
the Modern World and James W. Martin III's unpublished
dissertation, "UNITA Insurgency in Angola."
The human cost of the war--at least in terms of
well covered by the U.S. Committee for Refugees'
Angolans. The devastating economic impact of the
is most fully and systematically examined in Tony Hodges's
Angola to the 1990s.
A standard reference work on military forces and order
battle data is The Military Balance, issued
annually by the
International Institute for Strategic Studies.
information is available in the annual Defense and
Affairs Handbook, specialized annuals such as
Fighting Ships, Jane's Weapon Systems, and
the World's Aircraft, and Combat Fleets of the
edited by Jean Labayle Couhat and Bernard Prézelin. Other
reference works are John M. Andrade's World Police and
Paramilitary Forces and Michael J.H. Taylor's
of the World's Air Forces. Statistics and other
arms transfers, military spending, and armed forces are
in the United States Arms Control and Disarmament Agency's
World Military Expenditures and Arms Transfers and
Stockholm International Peace Research Institute's annual
Internal security and human rights conditions are
annually in the Amnesty International Report and
States Department of State's Country Reports on Human
Practices. Additional worldwide human rights reviews
Charles Humana's The Economist World Human Rights
Raymond D. Gastil's Freedom in the World.
Finally, specialized current news sources and surveys
indispensable to research on contemporary national
affairs. The most relevant and accessible include the
Africa Contemporary Record and periodicals such as
Research Bulletin, Africa Confidential,
Diary, Defense and Foreign Affairs Weekly,
Defence Weekly, and International Defense
most useful sources are African Defence Journal and
sister publication, Afrique Défense. (For further
information and complete citations,
Data as of February 1989