EXTERNAL AI Index: AFR 17/28/97
UA 371/97 Fear of refoulement / Legal Concern 27 November 1997
CAMEROON/EQUATORIAL GUINEA Alfonso Mbá Nsogo Ntongono
Pedro Esono Masié
José Abeso Nsúe Nchama
Fabian Asumu Ondó
Santiago Biyang Nsang
Santiago Esono Osa
Miguel Francisco Eyegue
Laban Obama Abeso
Juan Ondo Abaga
Twelve Equatorial Guinean nationals currently in detention without charge or
trial in Cameroon are feared to be at risk of forcible return to Equatorial
Guinea where they would could face torture and ill-treatment.
The 12 men, named above, were arrested on 25 September 1997 in villages in
South Province in Cameroon, close to the border with Equatorial Guinea. They
were taken first to the provincial capital, Ebolowa, and subsequently to the
capital, Yaoundé. They have not been charged with any offence and the reasons
for their continued detention are unclear. They are being held incommunicado
at a military camp in Yaoundé, although their families have not been informed
of their whereabouts. They are reported to be held in a cellar at the camp;
they are not known to have been ill-treated since their arrest in Cameroon.
All 12 men are members of opposition political parties in Equatorial Guinea.
Alfonso Mbá Nsogo Ntongono and Fabian Asumu Ondó are members of the Unión Popular
(Popular Union); the specific party affiliation of the others is not yet known.
Eight of the detainees have already been granted refugee status by the United
Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Cameroon and two others are
awaiting a decision on their applications for political asylum.
Torture and ill-treatment, in particular of political detainees, is routine
in Equatorial Guinea.
Two Equatorial Guinean nationals, believed to have been granted refugee status
in Gabon, were recently forcibly returned to Equatorial Guinea. Felipe Ondó
Obiang, a former member of parliament, and Guillermo Nguema Ela, a former
Minister of Finance, were arrested in Gabon by Gabonese security forces on
5 November 1997 and transferred the same day to Equatorial Guinea in the
Equatorial Guinean presidential plane. While on board the plane they were
reported to have been ill-treated. They were held handcuffed for several days
and were released without charge on 14 November 1997. They have since been
prevented from leaving the country. [See UA 355/97 (AFR 02/28/97, 11 November)].
All countries should respect their commitments under international refugee
law, including the United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees
and the Organization of African Unity (OAU) Convention governing the specific
aspects of refugee problems in Africa, to allow all asylum-seekers to their
territory, to provide adequate protection and to respect the principle of
non-refoulement. The OAU Convention, to which Cameroon is a party, states