A Voice of America reporter was arrested and beaten by police in Angola while on assignment Tuesday, May 24.
“I am outraged that VOA’s journalist in Luanda was so viciously attacked simply for doing his job,” VOA Director Amanda Bennett said. “Intimidation of VOA reporters will not be tolerated and it will not deter us from reporting the truth.”
Coque Mukuta, a contributing reporter for VOA’s Portuguese to Africa Service, was in a Luanda market doing a story on police corruption, when he witnessed law enforcement officers intimidating merchants, and demanding bribes and goods. Several uniformed and plain clothes officers arrested Mukuta and confiscated his camera before he was able to photograph the scene. They placed him in the back of a police car and beat him. He again was assaulted by authorities at a local police station. An officer told Mukuta, “You have to be beaten, so VOA will not get its story.”
Mukuta was released after spending several hours in custody. He credits his release in part to intervention by the country’s National Union of Journalists, whose secretary-general telephoned authorities and demanded that Mukuta be freed. Mukuta has filed a formal complaint with the provincial police.
“The Broadcasting Board of Governors calls on Angolan authorities to stop immediately the attacks on journalists and hold accountable those responsible for this assault,” BBG CEO and Director John Lansing said. “Violence against journalists is unacceptable, and this denial of basic human rights must come to an end.”
The VOA Portuguese to Africa Service broadcasts to Lusophone Africa and other countries that have sizable Portuguese-speaking communities. Our Portuguese broadcasts also reach East Timor, a Portuguese-speaking country in Southeast Asia as well as Brazil via shortwave and the Internet. Programming includes news, discussions, interviews and a wide variety of features, including music and art. Roughly ten percent of the service’s audience is in Angola. www.voaportugues.com