(Washington, DC, April 8, 2011)—A new report released today by the U.S. Department of State documents the ongoing violation of human rights and basic freedoms by the government of Equatorial Guinea against its citizens, said EG Justice today. The report’s findings strongly contradict the Equatoguinean government’s claim that it has “turned the page” and disassociated itself from the abuses that have marred the country for decades.
As has now become customary, this year’s U.S. State Department’s “Human Rights Report” for Equatorial Guinea details an extensive list of violations of human rights and civil liberties by the Equatoguinean government. The report highlights, among other things: government restrictions on freedom of speech, association, and movement; systematic suppression of independent journalists and media; widespread corruption at all levels of government; arbitrary and unconstitutional detainment, trials, and executions of political opponents; the use of torture by security forces; and the harassment and arbitrary detainment of foreign nationals.
“The Equatoguinean government often dismisses international reports about the country’s bleak human rights situation as ‘outdated’ accounts that focus only on the country’s past,” said Tutu Alicante. “As the new U.S. State Department report shows, these violations continue to occur today with complete impunity.”
Earlier this year, Equatoguinean president Teodoro Obiang Nguema became the Chair of the African Union. He has repeated previous pledges to promote civic participation, to respect human rights, and to root out corruption. Despite these assurances, however, in February 2011, the government ordered state-controlled media to cease all coverage of citizens’ protests in North Africa. Then, on March 23, 2011, the government prevented citizens from holding a peaceful demonstration to demand democratic reforms. The State Department’s report notes that “the president and members of his inner circle continued to amass personal profits from the oil windfall” and “frequently engaged in corrupt practices with impunity.”
“If the government of Equatorial Guinea is committed to reforms, it needs to take concrete, verifiable, and irreversible steps to address the abuses documented in the State Department’s report,” stated Tutu Alicante. “It could start by enacting and enforcing a Freedom of Information law, enforcing the law that requires public officials to declare their assets, publicly disclosing the state’s annual budget, allowing international observers full access to the country’s police stations and prisons, and publishing an accurate list of all detainees. These are measures that would begin to signal a true commitment to reform.”