Angolan authorities should promptly investigate the apparent summary execution of a criminal suspect by police officers in Luanda that was captured on video and shared on social media. The killing is one of dozens of reported cases of killings of young men suspected of crimes by alleged police officers in Angola.
On the footage, recorded by a woman who said she witnessed the incident on June 1, 2018, an agent of the Angola Criminal Investigation Service (SIC) points an assault rifle at a man lying on the road unable to get up. Minutes later, another agent with a handgun arrives at the scene and fires several shots at the prone man.
"Angolan police have a responsibility to fight crime within the confines of the law, and those who don't should face punishment," said Dewa Mavhinga, Southern Africa director at Human Rights Watch. "The apparent cold-blooded execution of a suspect requires Angolan authorities to promptly and impartially investigate members of the criminal investigation unit and appropriately prosecute any wrongdoing."
The Angolan Ministry of Interior released a statement on June 1 confirming the incident recorded on the video, which the ministry said took place during a chase operation of an alleged criminal gang that had robbed a car the day before. In the statement, the ministry condemned the actions of the agents as "ignoble" and pledged to take disciplinary actions against them, without providing further details.
Investigative journalist and human rights activist Rafael Marques has documented dozens of extrajudicial executions by Angolan security forces. A February report published on the site "Maka Angola" contains 50 cases of killings of young men suspected of gang activities or petty crimes that are attributed to "death squads" linked to the Criminal Investigation Service.
In November, the Criminal Investigation Service denied the existence of death squads in Angola but promised to investigate the cases highlighted by Marques. The results of the investigation, if any, have not been made public.
"Angolan authorities have an opportunity to hold to account those police responsible for a brutal killing caught on video, "Mavhinga said. "But this should be part of a broader effort by the government to put an end to grave rights abuses by Angola's security forces."