U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 1997 - Sao Tome and Principe
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Publication Date||30 January 1998|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 1997 - Sao Tome and Principe, 30 January 1998, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6aa8bc.html [accessed 4 May 2016]|
Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, January 30, 1998.
SAO TOME AND PRINCIPEThe Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe is a multiparty democracy. The Government is composed of an executive branch, a unicameral legislature (the National Assembly), and an independent judiciary. The President appoints the Prime Minister, who in turn appoints the ministers of the Government. Miguel Trovoada, an independent, was re-elected President in 1996 for a second 5-year term. The Movement for the Liberation of Sao Tome and Principe (MLSTP), which had ruled prior to 1990 as the sole legal party, won a plurality in free and fair parliamentary elections in 1994 and holds 6 of 10 seats in the Cabinet. Presidential elections held in 1996 were deemed generally free and fair by international observers, despite allegations of an unconstitutional modification of voter lists between the first and second rounds. The Minister of National Defense, Security, and Internal Order supervises the military services, many of whose members are part-time farmers or fishermen, and the police. A week-long military mutiny in August 1995 was ended by an agreement mediated by the Foreign Minister of Angola, forestalling a threatened overthrow of the Government. The National Assembly passed an amnesty for the mutineers which was proclaimed by the President. The Government and international donors have dedicated resources to improving soldiers' living conditions. The economy is based on the export of a single product, cocoa, produced in an archaic state-run system of plantations called empresas. The Government has privatized some of the state-held land but has had limited success in privatizing state-owned enterprises. The Government faltered in its efforts at structural adjustment, and the economy continues to face serious difficulties. The annual inflation rate is 60 percent, unemployment is 27 percent, total external debt is six times gross domestic product, and the country is highly dependent on foreign aid. Per capita income is less than $250 per year. The Government continued to respect the rights of its citizens. The principal human rights problems continued to be an inefficient judicial system, harsh prison conditions, discrimination and violence against women, and outdated plantation labor practices that limit worker rights.