(Tampa, January 19, 2016) EG Justice urges the government of Equatorial Guinea to immediately release two political activists arrested and detained solely for exercising their right to freedom of expression and peacefully announcing a meeting to be held by the opposition political party Convergencia para la Democracia Social (CPDS, Convergence for Social Democracy).
Anselmo Santos Eko Anvom and Urbano Elo Ntutum, leading members of CPDS, were arbitrarily arrested on Saturday, January 16, 2016 in the street in the city of Bata, on the mainland. They were cruising the city in a car, distributing leaflets and using a megaphone to announce a meeting scheduled for the next day, to discuss the electoral census and other issues of national interest. CPDS had a duly signed permit authorizing the meeting.
Between 11:30 a.m. and noon, police officers stopped the car, forced the two men out of the car, threw them into a police car and took them to Bata Central Police station, where they continue to be held without charge.
EG Justice has learned that once at the police station the two men were taken before the deputy director general for security to whom they complained about their arrest. According to the information received by the organization, the deputy director-general got angry and hit Anselmo Santos on the head with his hand.
Anselmo Santos’ wife was able to see him hours later, on Saturday. However, after that visit they were held incommunicado for two days, until the afternoon of January 18 when they were allowed visitors. “Anselmo Santos and Urbano Elo must be immediately and unconditionally released as there is no justification for their arrest and detention”, said Tutu Alicante, EG Justice Executive Director.
The police accused the two men of potentially causing public disturbances by mentioning issues that went beyond announcing the meeting and the electoral census. For instance, mentioning that the meeting would cover the severe economy crisis in the country, unemployment, lack of electricity in the city and criticized the abuse of power by some officials. The police also impounded the car the two men were driving, as well as another car from the CPDS local headquarters.
“The arrest of Anselmo Santos and Urbano Elo, and repression of their right to freedom of expression is further evidence of the Equatoguinean Government’s determination to clamp down on free speech ahead of the upcoming presidential election. The Government must stop the harassment, intimidation and arrest of political activists and other government critics, and respect human rights in accordance with the Constitution,” said Tutu Alicante. “The Equatoguinean Government’s recurrent policy of arbitrarily detaining and silencing independent voices makes it clear it is not prepared to hold clean and fair elections or to participate in the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative—a global enterprise that includes independent civil society participation.”
For more information, please contact:
In Tampa, for EG Justice, Tutu Alicante, (English, Spanish): +1-615-479-0207 (cell); email@example.com; Twitter @TutuAlicante @EGJustice