Luanda: The explosive and often shocking book about the Angolan diamond industry that led to criminal charges against its author has been posted online by Reporters Without Borders.
Rafael Marques de Morais, a frequent critic of the Angolan government and its diamond business, was charged with criminal defamation in his home country for his 2011 book Blood Diamonds: Corruption and Torture in Angola. He faced more than a decade in jail.
The book alleges some of the company’s diamond workers live in “virtual slavery,” with torture and killings carried out by Angolan soldiers and mine security. The prosecution of Marques raised howls from free-speech advocates and sparked a letter signed by a handful of jewelry companies urging the charges be dropped.
While Marques settled with the generals who brought the charges, government prosecutors pursued the case regardless. He was slapped with a suspended six-month jail sentence and an order to withdraw the book from circulation. His lawyers reportedly plan to appeal. Reporters Without Borders says it posted the book to show “censorship is never a solution.”
“By trying to suppress this information, Angola’s generals have, in fact, raised its profile and increased the visibility of Marques’ work in the media,” said Cléa Kahn-Sriber, head of the Reporters Without Borders Africa desk, in a statement. The Marques case could become an issue in the Kimberley Process, which is currently chaired by Angola.