Angola
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    Profile

    Angola

    Capital

    Luanda

    Gross domestic product (GDP)

    USD 88,815.70 million

    Income group

    Lower middle income

    Population

    31,825,295

    Area

    1,246,700 km²

    Geography type

    Coastal

    5.29

    Criminality score

    75th of 193 countries

    25th of 54 countries in Africa

    5th of 11 countries in Central Africa

    Criminal market

    5.20

    Human trafficking

    6.00

    Human smuggling

    4.00

    Arms trafficking

    6.00

    Flora crimes

    7.00

    Fauna crimes

    4.50

    Non-renewable resource crimes

    8.50

    Heroin trade

    3.00

    Cocaine trade

    6.00

    Cannabis trade

    4.50

    Synthetic drug trade

    2.50

    Criminal actors

    5.38

    Mafia-style groups

    3.00

    Criminal networks

    5.50

    State-embedded actors

    8.00

    Foreign actors

    5.00

    4.42

    Resilience score

    114th of 193 countries

    19th of 54 countries in Africa

    3rd of 11 countries in Central Africa

    Political leadership and governance

    5.00

    Government transparency and accountability

    4.50

    International cooperation

    5.00

    National policies and laws

    5.00

    Judicial system and detention

    3.50

    Law enforcement

    4.50

    Territorial integrity

    6.00

    Anti-money laundering

    5.00

    Economic regulatory capacity

    4.00

    Victim and witness support

    4.00

    Prevention

    3.50

    Non-state actors

    3.00

    4.42 5.38 5.20 4.42 5.38 5.20

    4.42

    Resilience score

    114th of 193 countries

    19th of 54 countries in Africa

    3rd of 11 countries in Central Africa

    Political leadership and governance

    5.00

    Government transparency and accountability

    4.50

    International cooperation

    5.00

    National policies and laws

    5.00

    Judicial system and detention

    3.50

    Law enforcement

    4.50

    Territorial integrity

    6.00

    Anti-money laundering

    5.00

    Economic regulatory capacity

    4.00

    Victim and witness support

    4.00

    Prevention

    3.50

    Non-state actors

    3.00

    Analysis

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    People

    There are high levels of human trafficking in Angola, with the country both a source and destination for victims. Domestically, Angolans are trafficked into the construction, agriculture, prostitution and diamond mining industries, while minors are forced into criminal activity. Angolans are also trafficked into South Africa, Namibia, Portugal and the Netherlands, as forced labour, and to transport illicit goods as part of a scheme to avoid import fees with Namibia. Foreign women engaged in prostitution within Angola may well be victims of trafficking, alongside Chinese women, who are recruited by Chinese gangs with the promise of paid work, and subsequently forced into both modern slavery and prostitution. Given the rise in trafficking, it is likely that human smuggling efforts are also increasing in parallel. Foreign nationals seeking labour opportunities in Angola often solicit the services of smugglers, in particular from the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

    Trade

    Firearm and ammunition smuggling is high, with the demand for weapons coming from Angolan secessionists in the oil-rich exclave province of Cabinda, and which are often supplied from within the DRC. It is believed that many arms, leftover from the civil war, are still in circulation, although authorities claim that the increasing age and obsolescence of these arms make them easier to control. There have been reports about private security company personnel, who are authorized to carry weapons, trafficking these arms to local criminal networks.

    Environment

    Illegal logging, predominantly performed by Chinese companies working with Angolan counterparts, is concerning, with Angola losing 5.2% of its tree cover since 2000. Chinese companies export this timber from Angolan ports to nearby Namibia as well as Asia. Illegal logging is carried out by unauthorized fellers, and by concession holders exceeding their licenses. Deforestation has increased by 50% in the last five years, and as a result, there are no longer any natural forests in the country.

    Fauna crimes are a major concern for the Angolan authorities, with poaching's estimated market value reaching €220 million in 2017. There is considerable ivory and rhino horn being trafficked into Asian markets, with 1.2 tonnes of ivory and other parts seized from poachers in 2017. Conservation areas are poorly policed, and hunting is inadequately regulated. The illicit market for endangered species, like the pangolin, is growing, as these animals are trafficked through Luanda International Airport. The bushmeat market also has concerning levels of wildlife for sale, while the levels of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing have affected the country’s marine life.

    Angola is rich in minerals and oil, and as a result there is extensive trafficking of illicit diamonds and cross-border fuel and gold smuggling activities. Angola’s oil and diamond fields are exploited by corrupt elites to enrich themselves. The diamond industry and mining areas are tightly controlled by the military and private security companies making it impossible for outside criminal networks to operate without the collusion of military personnel.

    Drugs

    Angola is a significant cocaine trafficking hub, acting as a trans-shipment country for South American cocaine destined for southern and West African countries as well as markets in Europe and the Middle East. The country’s shared language with Brazil, Mozambique and Portugal has promoted close ties between actors facilitating the cocaine trade in these countries. Cocaine also travels by land into Namibia and other bordering landlocked countries. There is ongoing state involvement, through corrupt and compromised officials, as well as through its military bodies, in supporting the trade. The state also has a role in facilitating the laundering of illicit financial flows related to drug trafficking. Local consumption of crack cocaine in particular, is high, and it is the second most consumed drug in the country, most commonly sourced from Brazil.

    Cannabis is grown both locally and sourced from South Africa and Namibia and is the most consumed and commercialized illicit drug in the country and police claim to have destroyed 23 000 cannabis plantations in 2019. The other drug markets are less pervasive in Angola, as there is little evidence to indicate a substantial presence of synthetic drugs, with no seizures in the last five years. However, Angola is reportedly a transit point for methamphetamine manufactured in Nigeria and destined for South Africa. Finally, the heroin market has very little influence, although evidence suggests that the country is becoming a growing transit state for Afghan heroin moving towards Europe.

    Criminal Actors

    Small mafia-style groups are emerging in Angola, often in urban centres such as Luanda, usually operating across multiple criminal markets. There is a worrying collaboration between thieves and banks, where people withdrawing large sums of money have been targeted and attacked. These criminal groups have access to weapons left over from the civil war and weapons from corrupt security companies. The weak police presence in poor urban neighbourhoods may account for the emergence of these groups, and levels of violence are extremely high. The mafia-style groups do not appear to have strong control over territories yet, as no levies or extortion activities have been reported. Angolan organized criminal groups are involved in many criminal markets, but typically in wildlife trafficking and forestry, to which they bring violence, insecurity, environmental and economic damage. They receive protection from police officers, and their activity is increasing.

    State-embedded actors continue to constitute a major threat, as the anti-corruption efforts implemented by President João Lourenço have brought to light numerous serious cases of fraud and other financial crimes. These include the case against the former president’s daughter, Isabel Dos Santos, who faces charges of embezzlement and money laundering. The charges against Dos Santos were announced by the prosecutor general of Angola at a press conference in January 2020. Dos Santos is yet to stand trial but has denied all allegations of wrongdoing. Several other business leaders and senior government officials are facing similar charges and some have already been convicted of money laundering. It is believed that the financial crimes perpetrated by state-embedded actors remain significant, and some believe the current prosecutions, while high profile, are selective and won’t substantially alter the current structure of state capture. Indeed, state-embedded actors are overwhelmingly the most powerful criminal actors in the Angolan organized crime landscape.

    With regard to foreign criminal actors, the most pervasive are nationals from the DRC who are involved in the illegal diamond mining industry. Furthermore, Chinese syndicates are involved in a number of different criminal markets, notably illegal logging and wildlife trafficking, as well as human trafficking. In 2016, the Chinese mafia was responsible for increased violence in Luanda and cases of kidnapping rose dramatically, targeting primarily Chinese nationals, often businesspeople, resident in the country.

    Leadership and governance

    On taking office in 2017, President Lourenço quickly made clear his ambition to fight money laundering, nepotism and corruption, commencing prosecutions against former government officials for serious embezzlement and fraud crimes. The president's anti-corruption efforts have been successful so far, and he appears to have broken the corrupt structures of Angola’s political system. There has been closer collaboration with the UNODC to fight organized crime, and a new penal code has been introduced targeting financial and environmental crimes. While this is encouraging, there is a long way to go and public trust in the government remains low. Despite marked improvements, the institutional anti-corruption framework remains insufficient, and government transparency and accountability is poor. Access to information is unsatisfactory and Angola does not meet international standards on the transparency of its budgets and the spending practices of public institutions. Nevertheless, notable improvements have been made with the rewriting of the penal code regarding access to information. The country has also indicated its intention to join the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative to improve transparency in its mining activities.

    Angola has ratified nine international legal instruments to combat organized crime and is a party to the UNTOC and its three protocols. Extradition agreements are in place with Portugal and Brazil, the two main countries in which Angolan elites launder their money. In addition, efforts have been made by Angola, along with its neighbouring countries, to combat wildlife crimes. While there have been encouraging steps towards greater international cooperation, Angola is yet to ratify international protocols around arms trafficking. Domestically, Angola’s legislative framework relating to organized crime is relatively robust, with the most notable criminal markets legislated, this includes the 2011 and 2014 laws combating money laundering and terrorist financing. In 2020, the new government created an independent special office to combat corruption and human trafficking.

    Criminal justice and security

    The judiciary is not independent in Angola and suffers inappropriate executive control. The president nominates justices for each court and the executive has rewarded compliant judges with favourable paid positions as chairs of committees. There is also a shortage of trained judges and lawyers, however the current president has pledged to increase the human resources capacity in the judiciary. Prisons in Angola are overcrowded, and many inmates are denied their basic human rights. The police are challenged in their effectiveness as they are understaffed and plagued by corruption. In 2018, the police force launched Operation Transparency and Operation Rescue aiming to rectify these issues and reduce the main factors that contribute to organized crime. Angolan law enforcement works with South Africa, Brazil and Portugal to fight cocaine trafficking and its officers receive training and equipment from South African authorities. Notably, the NGO Human Rights Watch continues to register concerns about police impunity, arbitrary arrests and extra-judicial killings.

    Angola’s extensive borders and long coastline are difficult to police. Nevertheless, the border police systematically carry out operations to combat cross-border crimes. Drugs, ivory and wildlife are also fairly regularly seized at the country’s primary airport. It has, however been noted that there is not enough staff or resources to stop smugglers facilitating irregular migration across the border. Angolan citizens and border guards sometimes facilitate criminal organizations’ smuggling and trafficking of people across the border. However, Angolan and Congolese authorities are working together in border operations, especially around the illegal diamond mining trade. Since the COVID-19 outbreak, border agencies have been reinforced, receiving additional support, resulting in a fairly successful border control system.

    Economic and financial environment

    Angola is one of the most difficult countries in the world in which to do business, with poor land and property rights, alongside high levels of institutionalized corruption. The president has begun efforts to restore investor confidence by prioritizing anti-corruption and calling for the restructuring of state-owned enterprises, which has received international attention. Angola’s banking system is vulnerable to corrupt elites which has lowered business confidence further, and the reality remains that political connections are generally needed to expand a business in the country. Furthermore, the oil price shock in 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic put a considerable strain on the Angolan economy.

    Despite the president achieving a number of high-profile prosecutions against former officials for money laundering offences, these do not necessarily reflect significant increases in the government’s capacity to counteract money laundering, and may be driven more by political motives. Angola is acutely vulnerable to money laundering and US$17 billion has been funnelled out of the country by corrupt networks of government officials and European banks in the last five years. However, a new 2020 law has placed much higher scrutiny over financial transactions made by politicians. Still, despite recent improvements, the legal infrastructure remains inadequate and only partially compliant to international standards.

    Civil society and social protection

    Angola meets only a third of the international mechanisms agreed on to support victims exiting modern slavery. However, it has improved its efforts to support victims of trafficking, including having all identified trafficking victims referred to care in 2019, as well as an increase in funding. In 2020, Angola passed a law to create a witness protection programme, but nothing has been established yet. There are also national and community level rehabilitation services for people who use drugs.

    In 2018, Operation Transparency was launched to prevent the illegal extraction of diamonds and to eliminate sources of funding for international terrorism. The new penal code explicitly combats financial, fauna and flora crimes. Angola has also deepened its cooperation with the UNODC seeking support in the form of training and expertise and has done the same with the US treasury in an attempt to better combat financial crimes and corruption.

    Despite improvements made under the current leadership, freedom of the press is still limited, with ongoing criminal defamation laws leading to the censorship of journalists. Civil society has been granted more leeway in recent years, however it remains weak, its protest actions are often suppressed, and it has an antagonistic relationship with the Angolan government.

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    The criminal markets score is represented by the pyramid base size and the criminal actors score is represented by the pyramid height, on a scale ranging from 1 to 10. The resilience score is represented by the panel height, which can be identified by the side of the panel.

    This report was funded in part by a grant from the United States Department of State.

    ENACT is funded by the European Union and implemented by the Institute for Security Studies and INTERPOL, in affiliation with the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime.

    The opinions, findings and conclusions stated herein are those of the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime and do not necessarily reflect those of the United States Department of State.