Lawyers in Angola are planning a protest against the arrest and torture of one of their colleagues late last month.
The SADC Lawyers Association says it has learned ‘with a deep sense of shock and regret’ that advocate Eugenio Francisco Marcolino had been arrested by the police in Benguela, Angola.
After he was arrested, he was ‘subjected to torture and detention,’ says SADC-LA. Criminal action was then brought against him in the regional court. ‘All this occurred while he was in the process of opposing, through legal process, a determination of the police commander that Advocate Marcolino believed to be illegal.’
SADC-LA says that according to reports it had received the police also used full force to prevent counsel for Marcolino and his supporters from accessing the court room for his trial.
‘The same police force (is) on record attempting to forcibly remove the advocate from hospital where he was receiving critical medical care after torture at the hands of the police.’
In its statement, SADC-LA records its strong protest at the way that the police used their powers to ‘arrest, deploy court process and physically impede the independent and legitimate practice of law by a fully registered advocate in defence of the public interest.’
SADC-LA adds that it has learnt that this is not an isolated event. Rather, it is one of a series of recent cases involving attacks on legal practitioners ‘in the course of executing their constitutional mandate. Such acts have the effect of intimidating lawyers and preventing them from performing to the best of their ability out of fear. This in turn violates the constitutionally guaranteed right to legal representation for all citizens.’