United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 1993 - Equatorial Guinea, 30 January 1994, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6aa4c14.html [accessed 13 October 2015]
This 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.
Nominally, since 1991 Equatorial Guinea has had a constitutional democratic government with judicial integrity and multiparty elections for national offices. The reality is that President Obiang, in power since 1979, and a small group of his associates dominate the executive, legislative, and judiciary, and make no meaningful distinction among the branches of government or its party, the Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea (DPEG). Fraudulent legislative elections took place in November with the DPEG winning 68 seats out of 80 in the National Assembly. Boycotting the elections were the main opposition parties and an estimated 60 to 80 percent of the potential voters. The new Cabinet was made up exclusively of DPEG members and was expanded from 34 to 42 portfolios. As the country's senior military officer, Head of State, and government-party chief, Brigadier General Obiang also dominates the military and police. Obiang's brother, Armengol Ondo Nguema, heads the security apparatus, which is responsible for frequent and severe human rights violations, usually inflicted to intimidate the population. The authorities took no meaningful action against any security force member accused of human rights violations. The large Moroccan Presidential Guard in country since 1979 departed in August, leaving an estimated 20 Moroccan police to provide protection for the President. A French-trained and -equipped special force of 200-250 persons, raised largely from Mongomo youth (Obiang's area), replaced the Moroccan Presidential Guard. Equatorial Guineans live increasingly by subsistence agriculture as well as traditional hunting and fishing. The small monetary sector, based on export of petroleum, timber, and cocoa, and heavily subsidized by foreign assistance, has recovered somewhat from the devastation of the Macias era (1968-1979) but is far short of preindependence levels. The Government failed to implement needed economic reforms, and as a result, the International Monetary Fund in August suspended an enhanced structural adjustment program agreed to in January. Pervasive corruption stifles private sector development and discourages legitimate investment from abroad. The great majority of the population goes without potable water, electricity, even minimal health care, or basic education. The overall human rights performance deteriorated dramatically. Despite the historic agreement in March on a National Pact between the Government and opposition parties for political reform, and despite its public promises of an open and free electoral process, the Government continued to repress perceived opposition and to control the outcome of the legislative elections. There were extrajudicial killings by the security forces in numbers unknown since the 1970's and numerous arbitrary arrests, short-term detentions, and extensive instances of physical abuse of perceived antigovernment elements. Where prosecution was desired, the Government used military tribunals which failed to meet minimum international standards for fair trial. The regime also attempted intimidation against foreign diplomats, including expulsion of the Spanish Consul General at Bata as well as thinly veiled threats by the regime against the Ambassadors of Spain and the United States.
RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:
a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing
There were at least six politically motivated killings, the highest number in the 14 years since Obiang came to power. Four of the deaths were opposition party members and two were members of a minority group protesting government repression on the remote island of Annobon. The Government did not investigate seriously any of the incidents. Police detained Damaso Abaga Nve, an activist in the Popular Union Party (PU), without warrant in late March in Ebebiyin, the capital of Kie Ntiem province in the continental portion of Equatorial Guinea. According to credible sources, he died during the night of March 30 after police beat him severely. A committee appointed by the compliance commission, established by the National Pact, investigated and reported that Abaga had been illegally detained on oral orders from a senior local official, that he had died as the result of head injuries inflicted by the police while in custody, and that senior authorities had attempted to cover up the truth of his death. Not having prosecutorial authority, the commission called on the Government to investigate and take appropriate legal actions. The Government did not follow up, claiming Nve had been found dead after his release from detention. Similarly, police detained arbitrarily Gaspar Mba Oyono, a PU activist, and several others without warrant in late June in the district capital of Nsok Nsomo, Kie Ntiem province. According to credible reports, he was extensively tortured during 5 days. Because of massive internal hemorrhaging, upon release Mba's family took him to the Kie Ntiem provincial hospital at Ebebiyin where he died 4 days later. The Government did not acknowledge the death to be related to mistreatment during detention. On August 22, security personnel, led by a cabinet member, forced their entry into the hotel room of Moises Andres Mba Ada, the leader of the Popular Union Party who had returned from long exile the previous day, and apprehended Pedro Motu Mamiaga, a longtime PU political activist. Motu had spent years in prison during both the Macias and Obiang regimes and had returned from exile in late July. When Motu demanded to see a written order for his detention, police severely beat him by blows from rifle butts as well as kicks and punches as the arresting team attempted to force him into a police car. Motu's cries of alarm and struggle attracted the attention of numerous passersby, and eyewitnesses reported that Motu was severely injured during his arrest and removal. He died during the night while in custody as a result of severe further torture by Secretary of State for National Security Manuel Nguemba Mba. The Government announced the next day that Motu had admitted to being the leader of a plot to overthrow the Government and kill Obiang, and, out of remorse, had committed suicide. However, the Government refused to return the remains to the family, buried him at an unknown site, and provided no written evidence that Motu was involved in a plot or medical proof that he had committed suicide (see also Section 1.e.). On August 28 near the town of Bata, four youths had a nonpolitical altercation with Romualdo Rafael Nsogo, an activist in the Convergence for Social Democracy (CFDS). Nsogo claimed he defended himself with a knife, killing one and wounding another. Despite its lack of jurisdiction in the matter, a military tribunal on September 18 took 1 day to convict Nsogo of first degree murder, and a military firing squad executed him the following day (see Section 1.e.). On August 13, on the remote island of Annobon, the local security detachment used excessive force in handling an incident in which a number of the island's youths, protesting economic conditions on the island, held hostage the island's Governor and military commander. In the assault, the security forces killed an innocent bystander, Simplicio Llorente Yaye, and later shot and killed one of the young activists, Manuel Villarrubia, as he attempted to escape. The authorities arrested 21 others, many of whom had taken no part in the holding of the officials, and the security forces, according to credible reports, tortured some of the detainees before taking them to Bata, where they were tried by a military tribunal for rebellion and supporting Annobon's secession from Equatorial Guinea (see Section 1.e.). Eight were convicted in a 1-day trial in September, but they were pardoned in October; the other 15 were released without charge but were not returned to Annobon.
There were no documented disappearances. However, families were often at a loss for days to locate and contact relatives who had been extrajudicially detained. This was particularly true of active duty and former military personnel held at military camps.
c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
Police and other security forces continued routinely to administer torture and other cruel forms of mistreatment to prisoners. Authorities employed a wide variety of techniques, including severe beatings, electric shock, pouring irritants such as diesel fuel on the skin, and hanging trussed victims from poles and wall hooks. In the case of perceived enemies of the Government, the primary motives for physical and psychological torture often appeared to be to punish and intimidate more than to interrogate or gain confessions. Police often detained known or suspected opposition supporters only long enough to administer a beating. A common punishment session involved 50 or 75 strokes with a rubber truncheon or short length of electrical power cable on the soles of the feet, back, buttocks, or other parts of the body. Police also employed truncheon blows over the kidneys, leaving short-term hemorrhaging and possible permanent damage, blows to the head, and open-handed slaps over ear openings causing excruciating pain and in some cases leaving permanent injury. In one well documented case, in January the Government arrested three well-known politicians returning from abroad: Benjamin-Gabriel Balinga Alene, Secretary General of the Social Democratic Party (SDP); Antonio Ebang Mbele, President of the Democratic Progressive Alliance (DPA); and Estanislau Don Malavo, a senior adviser in the Liberal Party (LP). The Government announced to the public over television and radio and to the diplomatic corps by formal note that the three had attempted to enter the country clandestinely at an unauthorized crossing point near Ebebiyin, when in fact they presented themselves for inspection at the Ebebiyin entry point. Despite assurances to the public and foreign diplomats of fair treatment, the authorities took detainees to Bata where they underwent several hours of torture which included truncheon blows to the lower back and to the soles of the feet, followed by being forced to jump up and down. Ten months following the incident, the three still suffered; Don Malavo, in particular, suffered from kidney damage. In the trial of the nine active duty or former military members (see Section 1.e.), all of the accused had been tortured following their arrests in August. At the trial, according to a reliable source, it was apparent that Sergeant Jacinto Nculu Abaga had been so recently tortured that he could not gesture with either hand; his face was marked; and he walked unsteadily, likely the result of blows to his ears affecting balance and coordination. Prison conditions continued to be extremely harsh and life threatening, but no deaths were attributed directly to those conditions. With no professional medical attention, no hygiene facilities in the holding cells beyond slop cans, and limited food for prisoners, families or friends must take food to detainees in the morning and evening. Female prisoners are not singled out for rape or mistreatment, but women prisoners are not securely separated from men. In October the prison authorities kept the 49 prisoners at Bata, including 3 women, locked in their cells for all but two short periods at dawn and sundown. In December at the main police station in Bata, 28 persons 1 opposition activist and 27 university students, including 5 women and 1 Roman Catholic priest were confined and tortured for a week in a single room without sanitary facilities.
d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile
Despite constitutional provisions, there was little enforcement of the rights of persons in detention to be charged or released within a reasonable period of time, to have access to a lawyer, or to be released on bail. Arbitrary arrests in nonpolitical cases by national security forces were commonplace, often on spurious charges, in order to extort money or to gain personal revenge. Non-Guinean Africans mainly petty traders from Nigeria, Cameroon, and Ghana were often targets of extortion by regime agents. Detainees were frequently held incommunicado. The number of known detainees at any one time does not reflect the many more who passed through police and special forces custody for brief periods of time. Many detainees were physically mistreated, administratively fined by their captors, and released without being arraigned before a court. During the National Pact negotiations in February, the opposition produced a list of 64 names of political detainees, none of whom had been processed in the civil courts; most of them were released by April. During widespread detentions in August, the number of political detainees probably exceeded 100 for a time. Banishment to home villages for which there is no legal provision continued to be used against perceived political opponents, particularly former members of the security forces. Following legislative elections in November, more than 100 persons were detained for various periods, allegedly for offenses ranging from holding political meetings to promoting the boycott of the elections. These detentions for the most part took place in rural towns and villages of the continental portion of the country. The number of political and security prisoners held at the end of 1993 was approximately 50; perhaps as many as 500 politically inspired detentions took place during the year. While the Government officially welcomes back exiles, it did not evidence a serious interest in promoting their return or offering support once back home. The majority of returned exiles are considered by the Government to be political enemies and, as a result, were unable to obtain government employment despite qualifications or to engage in the private sector without harassment. Discouraged and in some cases intimidated by detentions, several former exiles who had returned since 1992 and had became active in politics went abroad again.
e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
There is no effective separation between the executive and the judiciary. All personnel of the judicial system, from clerks to Supreme Court justices, serve at the pleasure of the President. The executive branch acts with little respect for judicial independence. There is a formal court structure with the Supreme Court at the apex, and also military and customary (traditional) court systems. Traditional laws and customs are honored when not in conflict with national law. The Council provided for in the Constitution to decide constitutional issues was established in 1993; of its five members, only three including the Chief Justice are fully trained lawyers. The nation's mixture of traditional law, military law, and Franco-era Spanish rules and procedures results in an inconsistent system of justice, but one which the Government evinced little serious interest in reforming. Corruption is pervasive, in part because judges and court officials are poorly paid and trained. Appellate proceedings are virtually nonexistent. Defendants unable to afford legal counsel stand little chance of acquittal. With perhaps 5 notable exceptions, most of the country's few lawyers (approximately 36) depend on their connections to the regime for a livelihood, raising questions about their impartiality toward defendants. In a clear trend during 1993, the Government preferred not to bring political cases before the civilian court system, relying instead on short-term detentions to intimidate its critics. Where trials were seen as useful politically, the authorities employed military tribunals even for civilian defendants or conducted unfair civilian proceedings. Military tribunals heard three cases in September which did not meet international standards of fair trial. On September 11 in Bata, a military tribunal took 1 day to hear the case against 23 Annobonese civilians (2 in absentia) for attempting to overthrow the State (see Section 1.a.). With no qualified attorneys representing the accused, the military tribunal sentenced the two who had led the protest, Orlando Cartegena Lagar and Francisco Medina Catalan, to 28 years in prison and six others to 20 years in prison. It released the other 15 individuals but did not permit their return to Annobon. Subsequently, in celebration of the 25th anniversary of independence, on October 11 Obiang pardoned the eight condemned Annobonese. He simultaneously promoted 14 security force members who had participated in the August killings and torture on Annobon. A military tribunal on September 17 found Romualdo Rafael Nsogo, a member of the opposition CPDS, guilty of first degree murder. A military firing squad executed him the next day (see Section 1.a.). Guinean civil law experts said that the process flagrantly violated the country's legal standards as the military had no jurisdiction over an all-civilian matter, that Nsogo did not have trained defense counsel, that the defendant did not have the right of appeal, and that the death sentence was not confirmed by another court as required in capital cases. Nsogo would likely have been processed in a civil court on a lesser charge had it not been for his membership in the opposition party. On September 23-24, in a case that grew out of the conspiracy claimed by the Government to have involved Pedro Motu Mamiaga (see Section 1.a.), a closed military tribunal in Malabo tried nine active duty and former military members for conspiracy, rebellion, and defaming and insulting the Head of State. The military court found the accused guilty, including Sergeant Jacinto Nculu Abaga, who received 24 years in prison. The only accused represented by a qualified lawyer, a civilian, was released.
f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence
Although required by the Constitution, search warrants are not used. The regime frequently places under surveillance persons it deems suspicious. Many believe telephone conversations are routinely monitored. There is systematic interference with correspondence, and there were three attempts by the Government to inspect sealed diplomatic pouches of Spain and the United States.
Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
a. Freedom of Speech and Press
The Constitution provides for freedom of speech and press. However, in practice, neither exists. Most citizens are compelled to practice self-censorship of political expression. Any vocal dissenter or associate of a dissenter puts at risk employment, access to public services, and even life. For a time in 1993, the regime relaxed its usual heavy media censorship of dissent. The political opposition appeared nightly on television during the February-March National Pact negotiations. However, following its signing, the government-controlled media reverted to featuring the party of the regime and emphasizing the personality cult of the President as the sole benefactor of the country. Opposition voices that gained occasional access to television after March were dissidents within parties reflecting intraparty bickering and those parties which had come to terms with the Government to participate in the flawed electoral process. The security apparatus usually equates criticism of the regime with treason; and tries to prevent distribution of printed materials unfavorable to the regime. There is no free press. The controlled media consistently reported on alleged international plots to back opposition parties and of efforts to destabilize the Government. The principal targets for these claims were Spain and the United States which were accused of working in concert with the three main opposition parties the Party of Progress (PP), Popular Union, and the Convergence for Social Democracy. Academic freedom is nonexistent.
b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association
The right of assembly and association is provided for in the Constitution. However, any gathering of more than 10 persons for discussions that the regime considers political, even in private homes, is illegal without permission. Legalized opposition parties experienced difficulty in holding even private meetings outside of the capital. Contrary to the law, security officials routinely ignore or deny requests by the opposition to hold public meetings, and even when approved there usually is harassment from security and other officials, particularly outside the capital. None of the opposition's dozen or so public meetings was given media coverage. However, the political party of the regime, the DPEG, held hundreds of public and in-house meetings which were given daily coverage in the media. On August 21, the prominent leader of the Popular Union, Andres Moises Mba Ada, returned to Malabo from 12 years in exile. His return witnessed an unprecedented show of popular support as several thousand people appeared at the airport and along the highway into town. Later a few hundred were gathered peaceably outside party headquarters when security forces arrived and without warning violently disbursed the crowd with truncheons and rifle butts, detaining over 30 and injuring a number of others who required hospitalization. The regime claimed the crowd was blocking the street.
c. Freedom of Religion
Equatorial Guinea does not have an official state religion, and freedom of religion is generally respected, though ministers of religion are prohibited by law from being members of parties or making statements critical of regime officials or institutions. Christianity, mainly Roman Catholicism, is the predominant religion, often interspersed with traditional religious practices. The Islamic and Baha'i faiths are also practiced openly. Jehovah's Witnesses was officially recognized as a legally inscribed religion in January 1994. Even prior to recognition, Witnesses had been able to open a center in Malabo and hold regular services. Proselytizing by Protestant denominations and construction of new churches were also permitted. Foreign clergy and missionaries continue to have an active role in education and health.
d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation
Contrary to the Constitution and specific commitments by the Government with the opposition in the March National Pact, movement within the country by opposition politicians was routinely impeded by authorities; passports were routinely confiscated; and exit visas, required for nationals as well as foreigners, routinely denied, not only to perceived opponents but to their families as well, including for medical treatment abroad. Transportation aboard the government-owned aircraft and passenger ship was occasionally denied to opposition politicians, who reportedly were told the transportation was for government-party loyalists only. Other citizens generally may travel freely within the country. However, poorly trained and paid police often extort payments for passage through traffic checkpoints on major roads. There are in general restrictions on travel abroad, including lengthy delays in obtaining passports and the required exit permit. Many citizens leave the country without formal documentation for both economic and political reasons to reside abroad, mostly in Gabon, Cameroon, Spain, and France. The principal receiving country was Gabon, where an estimated 100,000-135,000 Guineans have settled over the years. There was one political refugee living in Equatorial Guinea who had been documented by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their Government
President Obiang remains the source of political power. Citizens do not have the right to change their government by democratic means. There have been no free elections since 1968. All government employees judges, legislators, mayors, civil servants, and security forces serve at the pleasure of the President. While President Obiang's political party, the Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea (DPEG), is no longer the sole legal party, it continued to monopolize the political system. Obiang acknowledged in July that the DPEG was supported by public funds. The DPEG continued to receive dues from all government employees, including employees in state-owned enterprises, in violation of agreements made by the Government in the National Pact. In the legislative elections in November, 8 of the 13 legalized opposition political parties, as well as the United Nations and most of the international community, concluded a priori that the electoral process from voter registration to vote counting lacked minimal standards of fairness. While there was no violence during the elections, there were widespread indications of irregularities committed by the Government, including multiple voting by individuals, vote padding, and miscounting. The Constitution does not require presidential elections until 1996. Women and minorities are seriously underrepresented in the political process. In 1993, for the first time, a number of women opposition members became outspoken about the regime's excesses and the need for peaceful change following the extrajudicial death of political activist Pedro Motu Mamiaga in August. In November, 3 women, all of the Government's party, won seats in the 80-member legislature. This is down from the 8 who sat in the previous 60-member body. Two women were appointed to the 34-member Cabinet, as the Minister and the Vice Minister for Women's and Social Affairs. There is one woman judge in the judiciary, a small scattering of women among the senior levels of the Civil Service, and a handful of women in noncommissioned and junior-service ranks of the security services.
Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights
There are no local, nongovernmental human rights groups; none would be permitted to criticize openly the Government's human rights abuses. The Equatorial Guinean Human Rights Commission formed in 1991 by President Obiang remained dormant. The President rejected out of hand the annual report on human rights in Equatorial Guinea prepared by the United Nations Human Rights Commission's (UNHRC) special rapporteur, Fernando Volio Jimenez. As has been the case since the first UNHRC-approved plan of action made in 1980 by Professor Volio, the Government did not respond to, or act upon, recommendations approved at the Commission's annual meeting in March. The Government did permit the newly-appointed UNHRC Special Rapporteur, Alejandro Artucio, and human rights consultant Eduardo Duhalde to visit in October and December. While the two had wide contact with the general public, visited the two main prisons, and called on President Obiang, few members of the Government were willing to receive them. A special U.N. mission and two pairs of U.N. expert consultants traveled to Equatorial Guinea in April and July to assess the electoral process as well as the human rights situation. However, the Government rejected virtually all recommendations and offers of assistance extended by the United Nations and supported by the resident donor community. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) continued to visit Equatorial Guinea regularly but apparently did not reach agreement with the Government on prisoner visitation programs. Amnesty International maintained close watch through in-country contacts and published extensively on the human rights situation.
Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability, Language, or Social Status
Although the Constitution and laws provide for equal rights for women, they are largely confined by custom to traditional roles, especially in agriculture. Polygyny, which is widespread among the Fang, contributes to the secondary status accorded women by society. According to U.N. data, females receive only one-fifth as much schooling as males. The Ministry for the Promotion of Women focuses on agriculture, handicrafts, and vocational and semiprofessional training. It is interested in developing women's agricultural cooperatives and enrolling more women in the country's postsecondary schools. There is discrimination against women regarding inheritance and family laws. For an estimated 90 percent of the women in the country i.e., virtually all ethnic groups except the Bubi tradition dictates that if a marriage is dissolved, the woman must return the dowry given her family by the bridegroom at the time of marriage and the husband automatically receives custody of all children from the union. Similarly, in the Fang, Ndowe, and Bisio cultures, primogeniture is practiced and, as women become members of their husband's families upon marriage, they are usually not accorded inheritance rights. In theory, women may buy and sell property as well as goods, but in practice, the male-dominated society permits few women to have access to sufficient funds to engage in more than petty trading or to purchase real property beyond a garden plot or modest home. Violence against women, particularly wife beating, is common, according to medical professionals.
The Government has given little attention to children's welfare issues, and there are no groups that specifically address the needs of children. Child abuse is uncommon.
Although the law provides for equal treatment for all citizens, all ethnic groups are not granted the same rights and privileges. The Fang comprise 83 percent of the population, the Bubi 10 percent, and other groups primarily closely related to the Fang the remainder. A small number of Fang clans, especially those of the President and relatives by marriage, dominate all aspects of the regime as well as the economy and social life. Discrimination against the Bubi and Fernandino of Bioko Island, the Annobonese, and the Ndowe and associated coastal groups from the continent, is consistent, whether in the granting of political office or the approval of academic scholarships. Although all ethnic groups were represented in the Cabinet, only Fang occupied positions of real power. Following the November elections, the expanded (from 60 to 80 seats) legislature and the enlarged (from 34 to 42 members) Cabinet diluted the number and potential influence of minorities in those bodies. Virtually all members of the security forces, as well as the presidential household, are Fang, and all policy and command positions in government are dominated by the President's closest ethnic associates from Mongomo. For the first time since independence in 1968, a minority ethnic group made its political presence felt. An underground Bubi-interest group emerged shortly before the November elections and publicly demanded a referendum on the island's independence. Calling itself the "Movement for the Self-Determination of Bioko Island" (MSBI), the group spearheaded an electoral abstention rate estimated at 90-95 percent among the Bubi, the island's largest ethnic group.
People with Disabilities
There is no constitutional or legal provision for the physically disabled with respect to discrimination in employment, education, or provision of other state services. The Government has not enacted legislation mandating accessibility for the disabled.
Section 6 Worker Rights
a. The Right of Association
The right to organize unions is provided for in the Constitution. However, no enabling legislation has been passed, and in the small wage-economy no labor organizations exist, although there are a few cooperatives with limited power. Strikes are prohibited by law. There is a Labor Code which aims to uphold the dignity of the worker, but it is not generally enforced.
b. The Right To Organize and Bargain Collectively
There is no legislation regarding these rights or addressing antiunion discrimination and no evidence of collective bargaining by any group. Wages are set by the Government and the employers, with little or no input by workers. The employer must meet the minimum wage set by the Government, and most companies pay above the government established minimum. The Labor Code has served as a useful law in the mediation of selected cases involving compensation to discharged workers. There are no export processing or free trade zones.
c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor
Forced labor and slavery are prohibited by law, and slavery does not exist. However, numerous convicted prisoners and persons detained without formal charges perform day labor in households and businesses, on farms, and at residential construction sites of senior officials, including the presidential household. There is no monetary compensation for forced labor, although two meals a day are accorded some household help. The workweek is often 7 days for prison laborers.
d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children
The legal minimum age for employment is 16, but there is no enforcement of this law. Children younger than 16 commonly assist rural families with agricultural production and in town in street vending.
e. Acceptable Conditions of Work
There is only a small industrial sector in the country. Most salaried employment is provided by the Government, construction companies, businesses providing retail goods and services, and the plantation agricultural sector. A sliding scale of minimum wages was established in 1990. Entry-level positions begin at approximately $47 (CFA 14,000) per month. However, the minimum wage law is not widely enforced, and agricultural workers frequently receive less than prescribed by law. Government employees are explicitly exempted from the minimum wage law's provisions. The minimum wage by itself does not provide a worker and family with a decent living, and most of those with regular salaried income have to supplement their earnings with income from other sources or by farming. The law limits the regular workweek to 48 hours and guarantees employees 1 24-hour rest period per week, plus regularly scheduled national holidays. The Labor Code offers comprehensive protection for workers from occupational hazards, but the Ministry of Labor does not effectively enforce the standards. Safety and health committees which are explicitly sanctioned by the Code do not function, and employees who protest unhealthy or dangerous working conditions risk losing their jobs.