Angolan court: Presidential decree on NGO violates constitution

By CGTN Africa

Angola’s constitutional court ruled on Thursday that a presidential decree that imposed severe restrictions on civil society groups violates the constitution.
The ruling is seen to be a big win for non-governmental organizations operating in the southern African nation.
A decree signed by President Jose Eduardo dos Santos required NGOs to register with multiple authorities, including the Foreign Ministry, before they could operate and obtain a “declaration of suitability”.
Angola’s President Jose Eduardo dos Santos/ CGTN Photo

Angola’s President Jose Eduardo dos Santos/ CGTN Photo

It also allowed authorities to determine the programs and projects that the organizations’ implemented.
The Angolan authorities argued that the laws were necessary to stop some NGOs from getting involved in criminal acts such as money laundering, or other activities that “threatened Angola’s sovereignty”.
The Angola Bar Association challenged the decree before the constitutional court, arguing that it allowed excessive and unlawful interference by the government in the work of civil society.
The constitutional court’s ruling acknowledged the government’s concerns over the need to regulate organizations, but held that such regulation must come from the parliament.
The current Angolan president is one of the longest serving leaders in the world, having assumed the presidency in 1979.