Re: Sarah Wykes, human rights defender
To: José Eduardo dos Santos, President of the Republic, and others
From: Charles B. Davison, Barrister and Solicitor
I am writing to you concerning the situation of Sarah Wykes, who is a British citizen and human rights defender visiting your country for the purposes of meeting with groups and individuals to discuss the use of oil revenues in Angola. I understand that your government was made aware of the purpose of her visit and in fact, granted her a visa to permit her to enter your country. On February 18, 2007 she was arrested in Cabinda. While she has since been released from custody, she is presently prevented from leaving Angola and her passport has been seized. She has been orally informed of charges being laid against her but has not been formally charged with any known offences under the law.
Lawyers Rights Watch Canada is an organization composed mainly of Canadian lawyers who are concerned about the situations and rights of human rights defenders around the world, in all countries and under all forms of government. We seek to ensure that all governments and countries observe, respect and abide by the terms and provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998. The Declaration commits all parties to protect and respect the rights of every person to seek to promote human rights and fundamental freedoms for all members of society, and to refrain from using violence, threats, discrimination or any other form of pressure against human rights defenders.
We are concerned about the steps taken against Ms. Sykes, and call for all charges which may be outstanding against her to be withdrawn at once. There should be no restrictions upon her and she should be permitted to leave Angola if she wishes. We also call for all acts of harassment against human rights defenders to be ended, and that those persons are protected from any similar conduct in the future.