The Worst of the Worst 2010 - Equatorial Guinea
|Publication Date||3 June 2010|
|Cite as||Freedom House, The Worst of the Worst 2010 - Equatorial Guinea, 3 June 2010, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4c0e0afcc.html [accessed 25 January 2015]|
Political Rights: 7
Civil Liberties: 7
Status: Not Free
|Ten-Year Ratings Timeline for Year under Review|
(Political Rights, Civil Liberties, Status)
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2009 Key Developments: Spanish authorities launched an investigation into alleged money laundering by Equatorial Guinea's government in January 2009, and in February unidentified gunmen attacked the presidential palace, prompting the authorities to deny speculation that the incident was a coup attempt. President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, the longest-serving ruler in sub-Saharan Africa, easily won a new term in the November presidential election, which was widely regarded as rigged.
Political Rights: Equatorial Guinea is not an electoral democracy and has never held credible elections. President Obiang dominates the political system. 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. Obiang denies that a 2009 attack on the presidential palace was a coup attempt, although several opposition members were subsequently arrested. 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 country's 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. In June, Rodrigo Angue Nguema, the only foreign correspondent in the country, was jailed for four months after publishing a story about embezzlement by the head of the national airline. The constitution protects religious freedom, although in practice it is sometimes affected by the country's broader political repression, and official preference is given to the Roman Catholic Church and the Reform Church of Equatorial Guinea. 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.