The following information reports U.S. government priorities and activities of the U.S. mission in Angola to promote democracy and human rights. For background on Angola's human rights conditions, please see the 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices and the International Religious Freedom Reports at 2009-2017.state.gov.
Part I: U.S. Government Democracy Objectives
The U.S. Government has three primary democracy objectives. First, the United States provides support for Angolan efforts to build and reinforce its electoral systems. Angola held parliamentary elections for the first time in 16 years in 2008, with significant assistance from the United States. Although Angola adopted a new constitution in 2010 that calls for presidential and parliamentary elections in 2012, it is unclear how the new constitutional structure will be applied in practice. In its post-independence history, Angola has never completed presidential elections, and ensuring transparent and credible elections is therefore a priority. Second, the United States seeks to promote a vibrant, independent media. Angolans who live outside the capital are largely dependent upon state-owned media for information and news. The United States works closely with independent voices to widen their reach. Finally, the United States supports long term efforts to promote an activist civil society and to increase decentralization of power.
In addition to these three central objectives, a variety of U.S. programs focus on improving respect for human rights or otherwise laying the foundation for a democratic Angolan society. The United States has a comprehensive plan for promoting transparency and good governance and is an advocate for measures to eliminate trafficking in persons and to aid its victims. A variety of U.S. programs teach respect for international human rights norms to military and police officials, government servants, and Angolan society generally.
Part II: Supporting Top Priorities and Other Aspects of Human Rights and Democratic Governance
Supporting Angola's electoral systems, reinforcing civil society, and encouraging responsive, local government are key elements of our bilateral assistance. The U.S. Government budget for democracy and governance programs in FY 2010 totaled approximately $9 million dollars. These funds supported shorter-term electoral objectives, such as assisting civil society to prepare for 2012 elections, and building the longer-term basis for a democratic society. The United States organized a series of VIP visits, International Visitor Leadership Program nominations, roundtable discussions with opinion makers, conferences, speaker programs, and workshops in the capital, as well as in the provinces of Bié, Malanje, Uíge, and Zaire. In addition, the United States placed op-ed pieces on the themes of democratization, transparency, and human rights in the local media.
Support for an independent media is a high priority for the United States, which worked with Voice of America to increase its coverage of Angola issues and to allow independents and opposition figures greater access to the airwaves outside of the capital as Angola approaches its electoral period. U.S. assistance programs complemented these efforts through preparations to create a media center for independent journalists and other programs supporting the independent media. Two new programs are being created: a weekly call-in show and a roundtable discussion with experts. The programs will include breaking political news, analysis, information about voting, political parties, the rule of law, and the general election process. The United States regularly reached out to the non-government press and advocated for modification of Angola's press law, which effectively restricts the operation of the independent media outside the capital.
Many U.S. programs focused on the issue of transparency, including organizing a video conference roundtable on the topic. Government, civil society, and media attendees praised the event, and the video conference made a substantive contribution to internal Angolan government debates about how to address corruption and promote transparency. U.S. assistance programs worked with local governments to increase public participation in local governance. The United States focused on programs to counter trafficking in persons. The State Department funded successful training activities with International Organization for Migration for the Ministry of Interior and other security forces. Some 40 Angolan police officers attended human rights and other training at the International Law Enforcement Academy in Botswana in 2009. A similar number of attendees is planned for 2010.