Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 October 2015, 08:30 GMT

The Worst of the Worst 2009 - Equatorial Guinea

Publisher Freedom House
Publication Date 3 June 2009
Cite as Freedom House, The Worst of the Worst 2009 - Equatorial Guinea, 3 June 2009, available at: [accessed 13 October 2015]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Country Scores

Political Rights: 7
Civil Liberties: 7 ↓
Status: Not Free
Population: 600,000
Capital: Malabo

2008 Key Developments: Local and parliamentary elections were held in May 2008 after President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo dissolved the legislature in February. The opposition condemned the balloting, citing voting irregularities and intimidation that allowed the president to maintain his stranglehold on power. The use of torture in prisons continued to be widespread, and foreign journalists were banned from covering the May elections, further restricting the media environment.

Political Rights: Equatorial Guinea is not an electoral democracy and has never held credible elections. President Mbasogo, whose current seven-year term will end in 2009, holds broad powers. The 100 members of the unicameral House of People's Representatives wield little power, and 99 seats belong to the ruling pro-presidential coalition. The activities of the few opposition parties are closely monitored by the government. Equatorial Guinea is considered one of the most corrupt countries in the world, and Obiang and members of his inner circle continue to amass huge personal profits from the oil windfall.

Civil Liberties: Although the constitution guarantees press freedom, the 1992 press law authorizes government censorship. Libel remains a criminal offense, and all journalists are required to register with the government. The state holds a near-monopoly on broadcast media, and the only internet service provider is state affiliated, with the government reportedly monitoring internet communications.The constitution protects religious freedom, and government respect for freedom of individual religious practice has generally improved. Freedoms of assembly and association are severely restricted, and official authorization for political gatherings is mandatory. There are no effective human rights organizations in the country, and the few international nongovernmental organizations are prohibited from promoting or defending human rights. The constitution provides for the right to organize unions, but there are many legal barriers to collective bargaining. The judiciary is not independent, and security forces generally act with impunity. Prison conditions, especially in the notorious Black Beach prison, are extremely harsh. The authorities have been accused of widespread human rights abuses, including torture, detention of political opponents, and extrajudicial killings. All citizens are required to obtain exit visas to travel abroad, and some members of opposition parties have been denied such visas. Constitutional and legal guarantees of equality for women are largely ignored, and violence against women is reportedly widespread.

↓ Ratings Change: Equatorial Guinea's civil liberties rating declined from 6 to 7 due to an intensification of the environment of fear stemming from the widespread use of torture in prisons, as well as the denial of visas to foreign journalists seeking to cover the May legislative and municipal elections.

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