Equatorial Guinea must release a human rights defender detained simply for campaigning against the unlawful arrest and subsequent restriction of movement imposed on opposition leader Guillermo Nguema, Amnesty International and EG Justice said today.
Luis Nzo was arrested yesterday 19 March 2015 in the capital Malabo while he was peacefully distributing leaflets and using a megaphone to denounce the arrest of opposition leader Guillermo Nguema, and his arbitrary transfer to Mongomo, hundreds of miles away from the capital. Nguema was threatened not to leave Mongomo and is facing severe unlawful restrictions of movement.
The arrest of Luis Nzo and the restriction on freedom of movement of Guillermo Nguema underscore Equatorial Guinea’s current disrespect for human rightsMarta Colomer Aguilera, Amnesty International West Africa Campaigner.
“Luis Nzo must be immediately and unconditionally released, and all restrictions of movement lifted from Guillermo Nguema. There is no legitimate reason to justify this – it is simply a crackdown on dissent.”
Amnesty International and EG Justice have evidence that three policemen approached Luis Nzo when he was peacefully distributing leaflets and ordered him to stop. After he refused, police officers severely beat him around the head. Bleeding, he was thrown into a police car and taken to the Malabo Police Commissary with no access to medical attention, to his lawyer or his family. He is still in detention without charges.
On 17 March 2015 Guillermo Nguema, leader of political opposition party Fuerza Democrata Republicana (Republican Democratic Force) was arrested at his home in Malabo by the Director of National Security who did not show any judicial warrant. He was driven to the police station and later taken to the airport where he was put on a plane and sent to Mongomo without any legal basis to do so.
When he arrived in Mongomo, the governor told him that he had been sent there because the authorities consider him to be “intoxicating” young people against the government. The governor reportedly told him publicly that he could not leave the village without asking authorization from the local authorities. This amounts to an unlawful restriction on his right to freedom of movement within the country as set out in international law.
Human rights defenders and critics of the regime in Equatorial Guinea are continuously arbitrarily arrested and intimidated due to their work. No proper investigations have been undertaken into these allegations and remain in absolute impunity.
“Equatorial Guinea must end the politically motivated harassment, intimidation, arrest, and physical abuse of its critics in the run up to presidential elections. The government must ensure that due process is fully respected as guaranteed by the Constitution and international human rights law,” said Tutu Alicante, Executive Director of EG Justice.