Reporters Without Borders is appalled to learn that opposition radio journalist Queirós Anastácio Chiluvia was given a six-month suspended jail sentence on 7 February for broadcasting the shouts of detainees calling for help for a badly ill fellow detainee.
The news director of Radio Despertar, a station funded by the main opposition party Unita, Chiluvia was convicted on charges of defamation, offending the police and working illegally as a journalist. The six-month sentence was suspended for two years.
Reporters Without Borders was told by contacts in Angola that his lawyers plan to file a complaint with a higher-level court accusing the police of arbitrary arrest and mistreatment.
"The charges on which Radio Despertar's news director was convicted are totally unjustified," said Cléa Kahn-Sriber, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Africa desk. "Is it defamatory to report cries for help on behalf of a detainee who died of his illness shortly after being taken to hospital thanks to this report?
"Did Chiluvia offend the police by going into a police station to seek an explanation? His conviction on these exaggerated charges by a low-level court suggest that the Angola authorities pay little heed to freedom information. It is disappointing to see justice institutions misused like this. We call for this conviction to be overturned."
Chiluvia was arrested in Cacuaco, a suburb of the capital, Luanda, on 2 February after asking the police about the cries he had heard while passing in front of the police station. The shouts came from detainees calling for help for a fellow inmate gravely ill with tuberculosis. When the police ignored his questions, Chiluvia broadcast the cries for help live on Radio Despertar.
As a result, he was arrested and held for five days without being charged or tried. On 7 February, he was finally brought before a judge, who convicted him and then released him after he had paid 2,000 dollars in bail.
The detainee with tuberculosis was transferred to hospital after Chiluvia's radio broadcast but died a few hours later.
Angola is ranked 130th out of 179 countries in the 2013 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.