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When Rafael Marques de Morais first published Blood Diamonds: Torture and Corruption in Angola in Portugal in , he knew the book was bound to make waves—but he could have little idea how drastically it would shape the next several years of his own life. Detailing allegations of more than cases of torture and killings carried out by Angolan soldiers and private mining company guards, the book provoked the anger of a number of Angolan generals and powerful business interests, who would retaliate by tying Marques de Morais up in court proceedings spanning two continents.
When it comes to his work, Marques de Morais is no stranger to controversy. The following year, Marques de Morais was detained after visiting evicted people in a resettlement camp outside of Luanda with a BBC reporter. Yet Blood Diamonds would mark the first time Marques de Morais faced persecution in a foreign jurisdiction. Marques de Morais anticipated domestic backlash against the book. In fact, he opted to make the first move: shortly after publication, he filed a criminal complaint in Angola accusing nine generals and company directors of crimes against humanity in connection with diamond mining.
Instead the Angolan Attorney General set aside the claim, delaying the announcement so as to prevent Marques de Morais from seeking timely recourse. Meanwhile, the defendants retaliated, filing a criminal complaint against him and his publisher in Portugal for libel and defamation. Happily, the case against Marques de Morais was quickly halted in Portugal, with the Public Prosecution Office citing a lack of evidence to support the charges.
Notwithstanding, the generals and their partners. At the time of this writing, the charges against Marques de Morais in Angola remain pending. To date, a number of procedural irregularities have plagued the pre-trial phase. For instance, Marques de Morais was given only five days to make submissions on the merits of his case while access to the case file was withheld, thus rendering it impossible for him to present any meaningful arguments.
We thus stand with Marques de Morais, whose unparalleled courage in the face of deep-seated corruption and oppression should inspire human rights activists the world over. This report was born out of the need to bring together the results of the research on the Angolan diamond industry carried out between and During these visits I interviewed hundreds of people and became well acquainted with the reality on the ground as well as the prevailing social and working conditions.