EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: AFR 24/08/95
UA 120/95 Legal concern / Fear of torture 25 May 1995
EQUATORIAL GUINEA Elvira Lawson Otavenga (f), wife of Juan Nzo
Juan Nzo, vice secretary general of the Convergencia para la Democracia Social
(CPDS), Convergence for Social Democracy
Rafael Obiang, a leader of the Convergencia Social Demócrata Popular, (CSDP),
Social Democratic and Popular Convergence
Elvira Lawson Otavenga, wife of political leader Juan Nzo, has been arrested,
apparently for no other reason than to force her husband to come out of hiding.
Amnesty International is extremely concerned by her detention, and for the
safety of her husband if he is found and arrested.
On 7 May, Juan Nzo, Vice Secretary General of the Convergencia para la Democracia
Social (CPDS), Convergence for Social Democracy, returned from Spain and had
newspapers, books and computer diskettes confiscated by the airport
authorities. The following day he went to the police station to recover his
property and was arrested after he refused to sign a statement saying that
he had introduced subversive material in the country. He was released two days
later. However, a week later he was summoned to appear before the military
jurisdiction to be questioned but he refused and demanded that full details
of the reason for his summoning be given in writing.
On 22 May Juan Nzo went into hiding after hearing that a police patrol was
looking for him. Apparently the police said that Juan Nzo would be beaten when
found and that he would face charges.
Elvira Lawson Otavenga was arrested on 23 May at her home in Malabo, the capital
of Equatorial Guinea on Bioko Island. She was forced to leave her 14-month-old
baby in the house unattended.
In a separate incident, Rafael Obiang, a leader of the Convergencia Social
Demócrata Popular, (CSDP), Social Democratic and Popular Convergence, was
arrested, without a warrant, on 24 May at his home in Malabo by the Secretary
of State for Security, for being in possession of "many" copies of La Verdad
(The Truth), a monthly paper published by the CPDS.
Both the CPDS and CSDP are two of six opposition parties in the Plataforma
Oposición Conjunta (POC), Joint Opposition Platform.
Since the beginning of 1995 scores of peaceful political activists have been
arbitrarily arrested. Many have been tortured or ill-treated. Most were released
after a few days or weeks.
Tension escalated after the government started to compile an electoral census
prior to municipal elections which are now expected to be held in August or
September 1995. In April 12 people (eight soldiers and four civilians) were
convicted by a military court of plotting to overthrow the government. They
were sentenced to terms of imprisonment ranging from 9 to 30 years. They had
been severely tortured in pre-trial detention.