Severe Crackdown on Opposition and Media
Severe Crackdown on Opposition and MediaEG Justice April 20, 2016
Grave concerns about mounting human rights violations committed by the government of Equatorial Guinea ahead of the April 24 presidential election against political opposition and independent media.
(Tampa, 18 April 2016) EG Justice is deeply concerned about mounting human rights violations committed by the government of Equatorial Guinea ahead of the April 24 presidential election, and emphatically condemns the lack of rule of law and institutional framework to guarantee genuine free, fair and transparent elections.
According to an account published by ASODEGUE, an independent e-news outlet, Rafael Mbela, campaign coordinator for the opposition party Union Centro Derecha (UCD, Center Right Union) was illegally detained and beaten on Friday, April 15, 2016.
Mr. Mbela was arbitrarily arrested in Bata, the second largest city in the country, while he was peacefully campaigning, using a megaphone to promote his party’s message. Alleging he was disturbing the peace, the police transported Mr. Mbela to a military base where he was brutally beaten and robbed of all the money he was carrying with him.
“The illegal arbitrary arrest and physical abuse of Mr. Mbela underscores the Equatoguinean Government’s disrespect for human rights. This is a clear example of the violence this government is prepared to inflict on those who believe the time has come for Equatorial Guinea to experience peaceful transition and a change of government. The government must end all politically motivated harassment, arrest, and physical abuse of its critics,” said Tutu Alicante, Executive Director of EG Justice.
In a related case of crackdown against independent voices, the government refused entry of 12 journalists from the media group Africa24 on Thursday 14. Credible sources report that the journalists were illegally detained at Malabo’s airport for more than 5 hours despite having a permit from the Ministry of Information, Press, and Radio. The Police Chief o Malabo accused the journalists of belonging to a terrorist organization and ordered the expulsion of six of them. Thanks to the rapid intervention of Mr. Clemente Engonga Nguema Onguene, Minister of Interior and President of the National Electoral Commission overseeing the forthcoming presidential vote, the journalists were ultimately allowed in the country. However, once in the country, the journalists found out that all their activities had been cancelled, including a debate with all the presidential candidates. The journalists left the country on April 17.
EG Justice has recently highlighted the highly restrictive environment for media freedom, where more than 20 critical sites are routinely blocked by the government. Not surprisingly the Committee to Protect Journalists recently ranked Equatorial Guinea 5th on its annual list of the 10 most censored countries in the world and Reporters Without Borders ranked Equatorial Guinea 167 out of 180 countries in the organization's World Press Freedom Index for 2015.
“The violence and crackdown on independent voices by the Obiang regime tarnishes an election that already lacked any legitimacy. The time has come for the African Union, the United States of America, Spain and the European Union to send President Obiang a clear message that genuine political reform is long overdue; and that human rights violations would no longer be cost-free.” added Mr. Alicante.
For more information, please contact:
In Tampa, for EG Justice, Tutu Alicante, (English, Spanish): +1-615-479-0207 (cell); firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter @TutuAlicante @EGJustice