Friday, October 11, 2013

Angola: Police Abuse Luanda’s Street Vendors

The fact that this abuse is an issue is ridiculous. After the conflict in Angola, these people, who live in extreme poverty, have become street vendors in order to survive. Their sales on the street are their only source of income. They are not selling in the streets to purposely get in the way of the government. And yet, these police officers come and beat them and take their goods, without providing compensation for the goods to the vendors. In addition to that, sometime the police come disguised in civilian dress. They even stoop so low as to beat pregnant women or women with children. Most street vendors in Luanda are women and they belong to the more than 50 percent of Angola’s population surviving, "according to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), on less than US$1.20 a day". I think this is no way for a government police force, which is there to protect the people, to enforce a law. The reason these police are removing the vendors is that the government wants to rid the country of all informal trading, register all vendors, and place them in a formal environment to trade and sell. The government police force is abusing the street vendors and then they don't provide them with registered IDs to sell in the formal market because of lack of documentation, and so these vendors end up with no source of income.

On top of that, the journalists and media reporters are terrified to report on the issue because the police force will come after them if they say anything against the government. So, this issue occurs in plain daylight, and yet no one writes about it or takes action against it, because they will be putting their own lives at risk.

I think that the government needs to establish a professional police force that will deal with these vendors in an appropriate environment. They need to ensure that the police abusers are disciplined and that the victims are compensated. And one the biggest issues the government needs to address is that poverty of the street vendors. They need to ensure that the vendors are able to obtain a registration ID/identity card in a reasonable amount of time so that they can continue to receive an income.

Abuse of female street vendors, especially pregnant ones, is absolutely unacceptable. There are other ways to conduct government orders in a professional and dignified manner.


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