New criminal investigation laws in Angola

Two new laws, which impose some important modifications to criminal investigation, have entered into force in Angola. Specifically, Law no. 10/20 of April 16th, regarding undercover operations, and Law no. 11/20 of April 23rd, regarding cellular identification and localization and electronic surveillance.

Law 10/20 defines undercover operations as investigative diligences and other types of police operations, with the purpose of preventing or repressing crimes, through the occultation of the agent’s identity and mission.

Undercover operations may have as a purpose (among others) to discover evidences or identify criminal agents or crime execution methods; undercover operations shall always be proportional to its objectives and the gravity of the crime under investigation.

This kind of action is not available to investigate all types of crime, only (among others) for crimes like terrorism, murder, theft of vehicles, abduction, corruption and currency counterfeiting.

Undercover operations may be carried out until the pre-trial phase. The following actions are prohibited: the use of provocateur agents; illegal acts by the undercover agent, when unjustified, if those acts are against public moral, damage public property or are prejudicial to the environment; illegal acts, such as, instigation, provocation or indirect authorship of the crime, or without respecting due proportionality considering the circumstances and the operation’s purposes.

On a different note, Law 11/20 foresees and regulates the use of cellular identification and location, and electronic surveillance of goods, people, and public/private places.

The purposes of these investigation mechanisms are (among others) the location of a victim or criminal agent through a mobile device, the identification of any mobile phone’s holder who is a criminal agent, and the collection and processing of audio, images or other data recorded through surveillance equipment.

To legally use these mechanisms, one of the following requirements shall be met (between others): facts that suggest the existence of a crime; danger to legally protected interests; these mechanisms are the most efficient mean to clarify facts under investigation; these mechanisms have been requested by the competent authority.

The use of these mechanisms is not allowed if (between others) the person is not a suspect of having committed a crime; they are used based in discriminatory reasons, or if it is possible to monitor/ locate the relevant agents by less intrusive means.

The Public Prosecutors Office is the responsible entity to issue a decision on the use of these mechanisms, which shall always be dully substantiated.

The execution of the cellular identification and location, and electronic surveillance shall not last longer than 90 days, counted from the commencement date of execution, and may be extended, when the complexity of the case so demands it (such decision to extend the application of these investigative measures must always be duly substantiated).

This kind of investigative measures may be practically used through location software, access to telephonic records and signals, surveillance cameras, and location by satellite devices and interception of telephonic communications (among others).

Interception of telephonic and telematic communications depends of judicial authorization, being applicable the regime foreseen in Criminal Procedure Law.

Evidences collected through these methods may only be used within the criminal procedure for which the use of the method was authorized. All evidences that do not obey to legal criteria and formalities shall be destroyed.

Article by Salvador Pascoal Caló