The American Bar Association Center for Human Rights released a report today concluding that the trial proceedings of Angolan journalist and human rights advocate Rafael Marques de Morais, convicted last month on charges of slanderous denunciation for asking for an investigation of serious human rights abuses, was marred by significant irregularities in violation of his right to a fair trial.
Marques de Morais was given a sixth-month suspended sentence for asking Angolan authorities to investigate extrajudicial killing and torture committed by private security forces allegedly operating under the control of Angolan generals in the country's diamond mines, documented in his 2011 book, "Blood Diamonds: Corruption and Torture in Angola."
The ABA Center for Human Rights report indicates that "throughout the proceedings, the defendant was denied the right to present a defense, induced to make a statement on the basis of false pretenses and compelled to bear the burden of proving his innocence, all in violation of international law."
The Center said it would continue to monitor the case of Marques de Morais, who has appealed his conviction, to determine whether these violations are remedied on appeal.
The report, available online, consolidates the findings of the Center's observers after having monitored the entire proceedings of the trial and presents preliminary conclusions on the trial's compliance to date with international fair trial standards.
The ABA Center for Human Rights, whose members address critical human rights issues, develops policy, projects and educational initiatives to advance human rights both nationally and internationally.