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ANGOLA: lawyer Zola Ferreira Bambi pressured by Angolan authorities

28 February 2024


The International Observatory for Lawyers in Danger is worried about the situation of Angolan lawyer Zola Ferreira Bambi. Involved in the defence of human rights for more than 10 years, he has been the victim of harassment by the Angolan authorities.

Zola Ferreira Bambi is a lawyer and activist. He is the president of the Observatory for Social Cohesion and Justice in Angola, which promotes individual rights. In particular, he denounces the lack of independence of the judicial power and arbitrary procedures in Angola.

Mr Bambi, noted defender of human rights, was attacked by the Rapid Intervention Police. The officers kidnapped him and threatened him with death. At the time, the lawyer was defending Nito Alves, accused of insulting and defaming the former Angolan President.

The Angolan authorities have continued to persecute Mr Bambi over the past ten years. He has been subjected to pressure and threats for defending activists and journalists. In 2015, in the context of the 15+2[1] case, Zola Ferreira Bambi and his colleagues were targeted with insults, their phones were hacked into and their vehicles were vandalised.

In 2022, a demonstration for social rights resulted in the deaths of over 100 people. The authorities initially reported only six deaths, but an in-depth investigation by lawyers and human rights activists over a period of six months revealed a much higher death toll, exceeding the 100 mark. These findings suggest the possibility of a crime against humanity. Unfortunately, this is not the first time such a tragedy has occurred.

The latest trial defended by Mr Ferreira Bambi has increased the persecution suffered by human rights defenders. The lawyer has been placed under house arrest on several occasions to prevent him from representing activists and political opponents.

Me Bambi is under direct pressure, even from within the courts. His home is under surveillance by the authorities.

On 5 January 2024, police officers arbitrarily placed him under house arrest. Without a judicial warrant, they took Mr Bambi to the police station to prevent him from attending the trial of activist Laurinda Gouveia and her husband. This final act of pressure was followed by death threats from the police commander.


The Observatory denounces the persistent harassment of Angolan lawyers engaged in the defence of human rights and democracy.

The Observatory condemns the threats against Zola Ferreira Bambi and urges the Angolan authorities to take all necessary measures to guarantee the lawyer’s physical and psychological safety.

The Observatory calls on the Angolan authorities to comply with the requirements of international law regarding the right to a fair trial and independent judicial protection, in particular Article 10 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that:Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.”

The Observatory recalls the principle set out in Article 14(1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which states that: “All persons shall be equal before the courts and tribunals. In the determination of any criminal charge against him, or of his rights and obligations in a suit at law, everyone shall be entitled to a fair and public hearing by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal established by law (…)”.

The Observatory recalls that, in accordance with the United Nations basic principles on the role of the Bar, in particular principles 16, 18, 19 and 23:

Principle 16: “Governments shall ensure that lawyers (a) are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference; (…)”

Principle 18: Lawyers shall not be identified with their clients or their clients’ causes as a result of discharging their functions.”

Principle 19: “No court or administrative authority before whom the right to counsel is recognized shall refuse to recognize the right of a lawyer to appear before it for his or her client unless that lawyer has been disqualified in accordance with national law and practice and in conformity with these principles.”

Principle 23: Lawyers like other citizens are entitled to freedom of expression, belief, association and assembly. In particular, they shall have the right to take part in public discussion of matters concerning the law, the administration of justice and the promotion and protection of human rights and to join or form local, national or international organizations and attend their meetings, without suffering professional restrictions by reason of their lawful action or their membership in a lawful organization. In exercising these rights, lawyers shall always conduct themselves in accordance with the law and the recognized standards and ethics of the legal profession.”






[1] Front Line Defenders, “Case history: Angola 15+2”, online.