Angola Bill on NGO 2023

March 7, 2024

On May 25, 2023, the National Assembly of Angola approved the ‘Law on the Status of Non-Governmental Organizations’ Bill.

The Angolan government introduced the Bill in line to compact terrorist financing and money-laundering risks in the non-profit sector backed by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Recommendations. The FATF is an intergovernmental organization that was established in 1989 to lead global action to tackle money laundering, terrorist, and proliferation financing. However, Angola already has a strong legislative framework to address money laundering, terrorism financing and proliferation, and even has specific provisions for the non-profit sector. The anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism provisions in the Bill are therefore not necessary, nor are they in line with the FATF recommendations (that require a proportionate risk-based approach) and will instead indiscriminately restrict Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) access to funding and resources, and their freedom of operations and trade. The Justification Report for the Bill further claims that the Bill will guard against institutions with ‘dubious purposes’ that are ‘detrimental to the security of the State’ providing funding to Angolan NGOs, and will prohibit NGOs’ association with organizations engaged in ‘mercenary activity’. Such aims are vague and unnecessary, and unjustifiably label NGOs as vessels of unlawful activity. More generally, the Bill seeks to adapt and coordinate NGO interventions with the current ‘economic and social context’, with NGOs acting as partners of the Executive. Such aims blur the distinction between the state’s role in service delivery and an autonomous non-profit sector.

The intention is to regulate the operation and the organisation of NGOs without daily managing whether public or private subject to the rules defined for financial compliance.

There are criticisms that under the terms of the current law it creates complex situations and dependency for the NGO organisation and operation, in complying with the laws in force in the country.

The Minister of Justice and Human Rights, Marcy Lopes, said, in the presentation of the law proposal in parliament, that the organization and operation of NGOs, under the terms of the current law, "creates complex situations, either due to the difficulty of supervision by the State bodies, as well as some resistance from donors" and "their own organizations, especially international ones, in complying with the laws in force in the country".

However, the Human Rights organisations  and legal experts have concluded that, if passed in its current form, it will impose arbitrarily harsh regulatory and supervisory measures, and will allow for inappropriate intervention by the government into NGO operations (including granting strong administrative powers for suspension and termination of NGOs). This will further restrict the independence and autonomy of Angolan civil society organizations, which are already operating in a highly repressed environment. For this reason, there are voices raised for the current Bill to be removed from the parliamentary agenda, pending an inclusive consultation process with the non-profit sector to draft more enabling legislation that promotes and facilitates the establishment and operations of NGOs in Angola.

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