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VOA Statement on Beating of its Reporter in Angola

Voice of America deplores assault against journalist Alexandre Neto in Angola September 3, as he resisted efforts by plain-clothed police to take his camera equipment.

Voice of America deplores an assault against one of its journalists in Angola Saturday, which took place as he tried to cover a pro-democracy rally in the capital Luanda.

With uniformed police looking on, local reporter Alexandre Neto was beaten and had some of his equipment taken by men who appeared to be plain-clothed officers. Mr. Neto was struck on the head when he resisted efforts to take his camera gear. Other journalists trying to cover the event were also jostled and blocked from photographing the incident.

The incident began when pro-democracy protesters tried to leave the plaza where they were demonstrating and march towards the presidential palace.

Mr. Neto was able to retain photographs he took of the clash, which showed at least one protester who received a head injury during the confrontation with police.

Voice of America urges the authorities in Angola to respect the rights of journalists and insure they are not subjected to attack while performing their duties.

The incident on Saturday is one of several cases of VOA reporters being harassed in Angola and it is the second time police have tried to take photographic equipment from Mr. Neto.

José Manuel, who reports for VOA from Cabinda, was threatened with a lawsuit for covering a clash between police and young students, and Armando Chicoca, in Namibe, was jailed for 30 days after he reported on the case of a housekeeper who alleged she was the subject of sexual harassment by a provincial chief judge. Mr. Chicoca is still appealing his conviction on libel charges.

Mr. Neto was detained at a police station in Luanda last month after he tried to report on a pro-democracy rally connected with the September 3rd protest. During his detention, police demanded he surrender photographs taken of the rally.