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Key findings
  • More than six in 10 Angolans (63%) say they felt unsafe walking in their neighbourhood at least once during the previous year, while 54% say they feared crime in their home at least once.
  • Among citizens who sought police assistance during the previous year, 41% say they had to pay bribes (“gasosa” or “sentimentos”). And 37% of those who encountered the police in other settings say they paid a bribe to avoid problems.
  • Almost half (45%) of Angolans say “most” or “all” police officials are corrupt, the worst rating among 12 institutions and groups of leaders the survey asked about. Perceptions of widespread police corruption increased by 6 percentage points compared to 2019.
  • Two-thirds (66%) of Angolans say the police “often” or “always” stop drivers without good reason, and majorities say the police use excessive force during protests (57%) and with suspected criminals (55%). Almost four in 10 (38%) say the police frequently engage in criminal activities.
  • Fewer than two in 10 Angolans (18%) say the police “often” or “always” act in a professional manner and respect the rights of all citizens, while a remarkable 60% say they “rarely” or “never” do.

Between March and September 2020, human-rights groups documented 10 killings by Angola’s police and military, including the deaths of five boys aged 14-16 (Amnesty International, 2020). While accusations of police brutality are hardly new in Angola, critics have compiled scores of recent cases of excessive force, arbitrary arrest, and extrajudicial killing by the police, often as part of repressing public protests related to COVID-19 restrictions, precarious living conditions, and political rights (Human Rights Watch, 2020; Amnesty International, 2022; Marques de Marais, 2018).

Interior Minister Eugênio César Laborinho added fuel to the fire when he appeared to justify police abuses by telling a national news conference that “the police are not on the streets to distribute sweets, nor to give chocolates” (DW, 2020).

This dispatch reports on a special survey module included in the Afrobarometer Round 9 (2021/2023) questionnaire to explore Africans’ experiences and assessments of police professionalism.

Findings in Angola show that a majority of citizens experience insecurity and fear in their neighbourhoods and say the government needs to do a better job of reducing crime. Among Angolans who interacted with the police during the previous year, many report having to pay a bribe to get help or to avoid problems. Few express trust in the police, who are more widely seen as corrupt than other key state institutions.

A majority of Angolans believe that the police stop drivers without good reason and use excessive force in managing public demonstrations and dealing with criminal suspects, and many say the police engage in criminal activities.

Carlos Pacatolo

Carlos Pacatolo is the national investigator for Angola.

David Boio

David Boio is the co-national investigator for Angola.

Victorino Roque

Victorino Roque is a sociologist and executive director of the civil society organisation Okuveleka.