Country Listing

Angola Table of Contents


Prison System

Little information was available on the Angolan prison system. Prisons were primitive, and authorities apparently had wide discretion in dealing with prisoners. As in most Third World countries, prisons were designed for custodial and punitive purposes, not for rehabilitation. Detention facilities were overcrowded, diets were substandard, and sanitation and medical facilities were minimal. Intimidation, prolonged interrogations, torture, and maltreatment, especially of political prisoners, were common. Visits by families, friends, and others appeared to be restricted arbitrarily. Prisoners were sometimes held incommunicado or moved from one prison to another without notification of family.

The ministries of state security and interior reportedly administered penal institutions, but their respective jurisdictions were unknown. The principal prisons were located in Luanda, where a maximum security institution was opened in early 1981, and in several provincial and local jurisdictions. The main detention centers for political prisoners were the Estrada de Catete prison in the capital and the Bentiaba detention camp in Namibe Province. The government-run detention center at Tari in Cuanza Sul Province was identified as one of the main rural detention centers. Tari was a former sisal plantation turned into a labor farm, where prisoners lived in barracks or in their own huts while doing forced labor. In 1983 it was reported that Tari's prisoners included those already sentenced, awaiting trial, or detained without trial as security risks. Political reeducation, once an integral element of rehabilitation, was not widely or consistently practiced. Foreign advisers, principally East German and Cuban security specialists, assisted in operating detention centers and in training Angolan state security service personnel. Elsewhere, East Germans were reported to be in charge of a political reeducation camp.

Data as of February 1989