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Amnesty International Report 2006 - Equatorial Guinea

Publisher Amnesty International
Publication Date 23 May 2006
Cite as Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 2006 - Equatorial Guinea, 23 May 2006, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/447ff7a83e.html [accessed 20 November 2017]
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.

Suspected political opponents were arbitrarily detained without charge or trial. At least 20 detainees, including prisoners of conscience, were still in custody after being detained in 2003 and 2004. There were reports of torture, in at least one case resulting in death. Two people were alleged to have been killed unlawfully by soldiers. Four government opponents reportedly "disappeared" in custody following their abduction from neighbouring countries. Conditions at Black Beach prison in the capital, Malabo, were life-threatening. Over 20 soldiers and former military personnel were given long prison sentences for an alleged attempted coup after an unfair military trial. Six Armenian nationals sentenced to long prison terms after an unfair trial in 2004 were released. Two young boys were unlawfully charged and detained.

Background

In January, Equatorial Guinea signed the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa.

Despite high levels of economic growth and oil production, poverty remained widespread. Shortages of drinking water in the main cities, sometime lasting for several weeks, were frequent. According to the UN Development Programme's Human Development Index, life expectancy decreased from 49.1 years in 2001 to 43.3 years in 2005.

In September a High Court in the United Kingdom dismissed a claim for damages brought by President Teodoro Obiang Nguema against several British businessmen and an Equatorial Guinean exile who were accused of financing an alleged coup attempt in March 2004.

Arbitrary detention

At least 20 people arrested in 2003 and 2004, including some 12 prisoners of conscience, continued to be held without charge or trial. Interrogation of the detainees by the investigating judge started in late December 2005.

Dozens of suspected political opponents were arbitrarily detained, some of them briefly. Others were still in prison, without charge or trial, at the end of 2005. Most appeared to be prisoners of conscience.

  • Vidal Bomabá Sirubé, Marcelino Barila Buale and Deogracias Batapa Barila were arrested in January, apparently on suspicion of being members of the Movement for the Self-determination of Bioko Island (Movimiento para la autodeterminación de la isla de Bioko, MAIB). They were still held without charge or trial in Black Beach prison at the end of 2005. Vidal Bomabá Sirubé, a lawyer resident in Spain, received no medication for a chronic kidney ailment.
  • In April, 75-year-old Anastasia Ncumu was arrested and briefly detained after she took food to her son in Bata prison, apparently because she had criticized President Obiang.

Death in detention, torture and ill-treatment

Police tortured or ill-treated detainees with impunity. At least one detainee was reported to have died as a result of torture. Those responsible were not brought to justice.

  • In March taxi driver Mariano Esono "Nenuco" died in the Mondoasi police station in Bata, a week after his arrest for allegedly not repaying a debt to his employer. He was reportedly burned with an iron and subjected to electric shocks on his genitals and face. He was taken to court, where a judge was said to have ordered immediate hospital treatment. However, police officers allegedly returned him to the police station, where he died soon afterwards, then tried to hide his body by burying it on a beach, where they were observed by passers-by. They then returned the body to his family.
  • In May Prosper Diffo, a Cameroonian car mechanic, was held for four hours at police headquarters in Bata. He was reportedly beaten with batons and kicked because he had refused to work on the Provincial Governor's car. He required two days' treatment in hospital and could not work for a month. He received no compensation, and those responsible were not brought to justice.

'Disappearances'

The authorities failed to disclose the whereabouts of detainees who "disappeared" following their arrest in late 2004. A further four people "disappeared" in 2005.

  • Former Navy Commander Juan Ondó Abaga, a refugee in Benin since 1997, was allegedly abducted by Equatorial Guinean security personnel in February. Lieutenant-Colonel Florencio Bibang Elá, soldier Felipe Esono Ntumu "Pancho" and civilian Antimo Edú were arrested in April in Lagos, Nigeria, and transferred to the capital, Abuja. In July, Equatorial Guinean security personnel reportedly abducted them from Nigerian custody after bribing prison officials. After being returned to Equatorial Guinea, all four men were imprisoned incommunicado in Black Beach prison, where they were allegedly tortured and denied medical care. They subsequently "disappeared". The three members of the armed forces were tried in their absence in September on charges of attempting a coup in October 2004, and sentenced to 30 years' imprisonment. The state-controlled radio said that they were outside the country. No official announcement was made about the fate of Antimo Edú.

Unlawful killings

Soldiers who killed two people in Bata were not brought to justice.

  • Plácido Ndong Anvam died in January, a few days after being beaten in the street by soldiers who appeared to be drunk.
  • In May, Miguel Ángel Ndong Ondó died from his injuries 10 days after a soldier allegedly ordered him to raise his hands and shot him at close range. He had been returning home with a woman friend in the early hours of the morning, when they were followed by the soldier and there was a brief fight.

Unfair political trials

Further arrests took place in January of people accused of involvement in an alleged coup attempt in October 2004. Of the 70 prisoners who were tried by a military court in Bata in September, on charges of treason and undermining the security of the state, 20 soldiers and former soldiers were convicted and sentenced to prison terms of between six and 30 years. The rest of the accused were acquitted. The trial was unfair. The defendants were held incommunicado before the trial and reportedly convicted on the basis of confession statements they said were extracted under torture. They bore scars consistent with their allegations. There is no right of appeal from a military court.

Update

In June, six Armenian nationals, sentenced to long prison terms in November 2004 for their alleged participation in an alleged coup attempt in March 2004, were released under a presidential pardon. Two Equatorial Guineans sentenced in the same case were also released in August, having completed their sentences.

Harassment of a human rights defender

  • In June, lawyer and human rights defender Fabián Nsué Nguema, a former prisoner of conscience, was arbitrarily suspended from the Bar Association for a year, for alleged misconduct. The suspension order did not specify the nature or source of the complaint against him, and he was given no opportunity to refute any accusation. His suspension appeared to be politically motivated and related to his work as a lawyer for people tried for alleged coup attempts, including a group of South African nationals convicted after unfair trials in 2004, and to his criticisms of the government.

Prison conditions

Prison conditions were life-threatening as a result of overcrowding, lack of medical treatment and insufficient food.

  • Prisoners in Black Beach prison were at risk of starvation, particularly those without families to support them. Food rations, reduced to one or two bread rolls a day in late 2004, were cut again in late February, with prisoners receiving no food at all for days at a time. The situation improved in late April. Prisoners were held incommunicado from February to September, when limited family visits were again allowed.

Unlawful arrest of children

Two 12-year-old boys were unlawfully arrested, detained and charged in February in Malabo. They were held in a police station for three days on charges of killing another child three years earlier, before being taken before a judge to have their detention legalized. The judge ordered their detention at Black Beach prison, which has no facilities for juveniles. They were released two weeks later to await trial. The trial had not started by the end of 2005. Under national law, the age of criminal responsibility is 16 and there is no juvenile justice system.

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