The unclear relation between Angola and its Muslim citizens and migrants: Is Angola discriminating against them?Posted: 6 October, 2017
Author: Cristiano d’Orsi
Research Fellow and Lecturer at the South African Research Chair in International Law (SARCIL), University of Johannesburg
Angola is a country where the traditional Islamic relation between Muhajirun (‘immigrants’) and Ansar (‘helpers’: locals) seems not to find a fertile ground. Islam in Angola represents a minority religion, with an estimate number of proselytes amounting to approximately 1% of the entire population. These are mostly Sunnis who arrived in Angola from West Africa, Somalia and from families of Lebanese descent following the end of the Angolan Civil War in 2002.
Historically, as many of these immigrants entered Angola illegally, which created the misperception of associating Islam with illegal immigration and crime (almost predominantly counterfeiting of money and money laundering), although barely any evidence of this has been proved. This was affirmed by the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief on her visit to the country in 2007.
On 22 August 2012, Angola enacted a new Children’s Act, adding to the number of African countries (including South Africa, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Lesotho, and many others) which reviewed their legislation focusing on children’s rights. Angolan law, like many other recent African legislation on children, is comprehensive and detailed in multiple aspects of children’s rights. Some of its features are common in other similar instruments in the region. For instance, it protects children’s civil and political rights and their socio-economic rights. The right to life, the right to health and the right to basic education, amongst others are protected. In addition, the law entrenches the four principles forming the core of international and regional treaties dealing with children’s rights (the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC) included), including the principles of non-discrimination (Article 2 of the CRC and Article 3 of the ACRWC), best interest of the child (Article 3 of the CRC and Article 4 of the ACRWC), the right to life survival and development (Article of the 6 CRC and Article 5 of the ACRWC), and the right of the child to participate (Article 12 CRC and Article 7 of the ACRWC). These principles are also part and parcel of other modern African child legislation.
A detailed account of the similarities between the Angolan Children’s Act and other instruments falls beyond the objectives of this contribution. However, I would like to highlight some of the major contributions (amongst others not discussed here) as a result of the Act, in efforts to advance children’s rights.