Equatorial Guinea 2017/2018
Harassment, intimidation and arbitrary detention of human rights defenders continued. The rights to freedom of association and assembly were curtailed; people attending peaceful gatherings were arbitrarily detained and beaten. Pregnant girls were barred from attending school.
On 27 October, Vice-President Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, the President’s son, was given a three-year suspended prison sentence, and a suspended EUR30 million fine by a court in Paris, France, for corruption and money laundering while he was Minister of Agriculture and Forestry.
In November’s legislative and municipal elections, the ruling Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea won 99 of 100 seats in the Chamber of Deputies, all elected seats in the Senate, and all but one seat in the municipal elections. Opposition parties denounced electoral irregularities and intimidation. Internet access was severely disrupted for at least five days.
Human rights defenders
The authorities continued to harass, intimidate and arbitrarily detain human rights defenders.
On 17 April, Enrique Asumu and Alfredo Okenve, leaders of the Centre for Development Studies and Initiatives, were detained in the capital, Malabo, after they objected to the authorities’ decision to prevent Enrique Asumu from boarding a plane to Bata city the previous day. Enrique Asumu was released eight days later on health grounds after paying a fine of CFA francs 2 million (USD3,500). Alfredo Okenve was released on 4 May after paying the same fine. The Ministry of Interior had suspended the Centre’s activities in 2016.
On 16 September, state security agents arrested and detained Ramón Esono Ebalé, a cartoonist and critic of the government, and two Spanish nationals as they left a restaurant in Malabo. They were handcuffed, their mobile phones confiscated, and taken to the Office against Terrorism and Dangerous Activities where Ramón Esono Ebalé was questioned about his cartoons. The Spanish nationals were released the same day. Ramón Esono Ebalé was transferred three days later to the Black Beach prison in Malabo. National TV reported that he was accused of heading an organization involved in money laundering and counterfeiting money. On 27 November he was charged with counterfeiting money and remained in detention at the end of the year.
Freedoms of assembly and association
On 8 March, police arrested 47 women, four children and at least 12 men at an International Women’s Day training session in Mbini city, southwest of Bata, in the office of the opposition Convergence for Social Democracy party. The police threatened to arrest Epifania Avomo, the party’s executive women’s officer, but when other women protested they were all arrested and taken to Mbini police station. Some of them were beaten at the police station, after which they were all released the same day.
In May, taxi drivers’ organizations called for a three-day strike in Malabo to protest at the high prices of permits and papers. Security forces arbitrarily arrested at least 17 people and beat some of those believed to be participating in the strike, leaving several of them in need of medical assistance. They were released without charge about one week later.
On 27 May, security forces arbitrarily arrested rapper Benjamín Ndong, also known as “Jamin Dogg”, in Malabo, for releasing two weeks ealier a song supporting the striking taxi drivers and denouncing government intimidation. He was released the same day without charge.
Economic, social and cultural rights
In June, the NGO Human Rights Watch issued a report highlighting the lack of investment in health and education despite the increase, over two decades, of the per capita GDP which arose mainly from oil revenues. The government continued to focus spending on large infrastructure projects, from which some government officials profited, at the expense of health and education sectors.
Pregnant girls continued to be banned from school following a 2016 order issued by the Ministry of Education as a means to reduce adolescent pregnancies.
Death sentences continued to be handed down. On 16 September Raimundo Nfube Onva and Fausto Luis Nve Adugu were sentenced to death for a ritual killing committed in 2016.