Rafael Marques de Morais

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Rafael Marques de Morais "is a tenacious leader in the struggle for reform of Angola’s repressive and corrupt government, whose President, Eduardo dos Santos, was last elected in 1992. The 35-year old Marques is a journalist, public official, and representative of humanitarian organizations whose career has been marked by conflicts with the government of Angola, where, Marques says, "corruption can be defined ... as the main institution of the state." Himself a victim of the regime, Marques was imprisoned in 1999 for 40 days without charges, ten of them incommunicado, after he said in a newspaper article that the President was responsible "for the destruction of the country" and "accountable for the promotion of incompetence, embezzlement and corruption."

"He was tried and convicted of the charge of abuse of the press resulting in "injury" to the President. On appeal, his sentence was suspended and he was ordered to pay damages to the President. His imprisonment became a landmark case in the quest for freedom of expression in Angola. The publicity surrounding the case generated an unprecedented level of attention from humanitarian groups worldwide to press freedom in Angola. His case was presented by the Open Society Justice Initiative and INTERIGHTS to the UN Human Rights Committee, and resulted in a ruling that Angola had violated the freedom of expression of a journalist and a call for broad liberalization of the Angolan regime.

"After his release from detention, Marques turned his attention to efforts to end the civil war in Angola. He organized a coalition of 250 religious and civic leaders who called for a peaceful settlement...

"His own greatest impact on the situation came from his work between 1999 and 2002, in the view of his sponsors for the Civil Courage Prize. During those years, with the aid of the Open Society Institute, he wrote extensively about the hardships endured by the populations of oil-rich Cabinda Province and of the Lunda Provinces, a main site of the diamond trade... More recently, he has worked as a representative in Angola for the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa, where his main aim was to aid in teacher training programs.

"At present, Marques is studying at the University of London. His family remains in Angola. His publication of criticisms continues via the worldwide web and other media.

"He has participated in a number of meetings on international development. Most recently:

  • "Transitions: A Conversation with National Leaders," New York, March 28-29 2005, held by the New York University and the International Peace Academy.
  • "Beyond 'Conflict Diamonds:' a New Report on Human Rights and Angolan Diamonds" at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, Washington DC, March 24 2005.
  • "Angola's Oil Curse" at the Post-Nobel Conference on "Oil Revenues – From Curse to Blessing for Developing Countries?" AlterNet.org, Marques, Rafael, December 17, 2004.

"In 2000, the National Association of Black Journalists of the United States presented Marques with the Percy Qoboza Award for Outstanding Courage, while the European Parliament bestowed upon him the Freedom Passport." [1]

In 2006 he was a Civil Courage Prize Honoree.

He is the African vice president for the International Communications Forum.