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VOA Concerned about Journalist in Angola

The Voice of America is concerned about the one year jail sentence that has been handed down to one of our contract journalists in Angola, Mr. Armando Chicoca.

Mr. Chicoca was sentenced on March 3, 2011 following a trial on libel and defamation charges stemming from his reporting of allegations of improper conduct made against the Presiding Judge of the Provincial Court of Namibe by an employee, who has since been fired. Lawyers for Mr. Chicoca have filed an appeal.

The Committee to Protect Journalists issued a statement following Mr. Chicoca’s sentencing on Thursday saying, "This conviction is highly suspect and should be overturned."

The CPJ statement noted that Mr. Chicoca was taken to Comarca Prison in the coastal city of Namibe immediately after sentencing, and his defense lawyer, David Mendes, was not present for the sentencing.

The Voice of America requires all of its reporters to strictly adhere to the high standards of fairness, accuracy and balance that are legally required of all VOA broadcasts by our congressionally-mandated charter, as well as our journalistic code.

The Voice of America values Mr. Chicoca’s reporting and notes for the record that he gave the judge, who was the subject of these allegations, ample opportunity to respond to the charges. As Mr. Chicoca’s report stated, the judge declined to do so.

The Voice of America is concerned about the chilling effect this case will have on journalists in Angola as they try to report on important issues of social justice that impact our audience.

Danforth W. Austin,

Director, Voice of America