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Equatorial Guinea: legal concern / fear of torture: Elvira Lawson Otavenga, Juan Nzo, Rafael Obiang

, Index number: AFR 24/008/1995

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. Juan Nzo, Vice Secretary of the Convergencia para la Democracia Social (CPDS) went into hiding on 22 May after police had apparently said that he would be beaten when found and would face charges. It is thought these charges may be related to newspapers and books that were confiscated from him after he returned from a trip to Spain. Elvira Lawson Otavenga was arrested on 23 May at her home in Malabo. She was forced to leave her 14-month-old baby in the house attended. In a separate incident Rafael Obiang, a leader of the Convergencia Social Democrata Popular (CSDP) was arrested without a warrant on 24 May for being in posssession of copies of La Verdad (The Truth), a monthly paper published by the CPDS. AI is calling for their immediate and unconditional release.

EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: AFR 24/08/95
Distr: UA/SC
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.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
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.
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RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express and airmail
letters either in Spanish or in your own language:
- expressing concern about the detention of Elvira Lawson Otavenga
who appears to have been taken hostage by the authorities to force her husband
to give himself up;
- expressing concern about the unlawful arrest of Rafael Obiang who appears
to have been arrested solely for his peaceful political activities;
- urging that they be immediately and unconditionally released;
- expressing concern for the safety of Juan Nzo who went into hiding after
he heard that the authorities would beat him, imprison and try him for
"introducing subversive" material in the country;
- urging the authorities to issue clear public instructions to the security
forces that human rights violations such as arbitrary arrests and the torture
of prisoners will not be tolerated.
APPEALS TO
President
General de Brigada Teodoro Obiang Nguema
Presidente de la República
Gabinete del Presidente
Malabo
Guinea Ecuatorial
Telegrams: Presidente Obiang Nguema, Malabo, Guinea Ecuatorial
Telexes: 5405 GBNOM 5405 EG
Faxes: + 240 9 3313
Salutation: Su Excelencia/Your Excellency
Minister of Justice
Francisco Javier Ndongo Mbengono
Ministro de Justicia y Culto
Ministerio de Justicia y Culto
Malabo
Guinea Ecuatorial
Telegrams: Ministro de Justicia Ndongo Mbengono, Malabo, Guinea Ecuatorial
Telexes: 5405 GBNOM 5405 EG
Faxes: + 240 9 2824
Salutation: Excelentísimo Señor/dear Minister
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Miguel Oyono Ndong Mifumu
Ministro de Asuntos Exteriores
Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores
Malabo, Guinea Ecuatorial
Telegrams: Ministro de Asuntos Exteriores Oyono Ndong Mifumu, Malabo, Guinea
Ecuatorial
Telexes: 5405 GBNOM 5405 EG
Salutation: Excelentísimo Señor/dear Minister
COPIES OF YOUR APPEALS TO: diplomatic representatives of Equatorial Guinea
accredited to your country
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat,
or your section office, if sending appeals after 14 July 1995.

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