Annual Report: Equatorial Guinea 2010

Report
May 28, 2010

Annual Report: Equatorial Guinea 2010

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Head of state Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo
Head of government Ignacio Milán Tang
Death penalty retentionist
Population .7 million
Life expectancy 49.9 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f) 177/160 per 1,000
Adult literacy 87 per cent

An alleged attack in February on the presidential palace in the capital, Malabo, led to arbitrary arrests of political opponents and others, all of whom appeared to be prisoners of conscience. Detainees were tortured with impunity. Soldiers allegedly killed at least two people unlawfully. Prisoners continued to be held incommunicado, some in isolation cells, with limited or no access to fresh air and direct sunlight. Scores of families were forcibly evicted from their homes in several cities and hundreds more remained at risk.

Background

In February, the authorities said that members of the Nigerian Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) had attacked the presidential palace in Malabo with assistance from inside Equatorial Guinea. The alleged attack led to the arrest of political opponents and a crackdown on irregular migrants. Some 500 foreign nationals, mostly Nigerians and Cameroonians, were expelled between February and May. Following the alleged attack, the Ministers of Defence and National Security were dismissed and new ones appointed. MEND denied involvement in the alleged attack.

In March, the new National Security Minister condemned the level of illegal detentions in Malabo police station, the poorly kept records of detainees, and illegal payments received by immigration officers. He warned officers against such practices, adding that their duty was to protect citizens and their property and not to violate their rights.

Law 5/09 on the Judiciary was passed in May. It provides for the creation of family courts, with competence to deal with cases of violence against women.

In November, President Obiang pardoned four South African nationals serving prison sentences of between 17 and 34 years for attempting to overthrow the Equatorial Guinean government in March 2004. A British national convicted in July 2008 of the same offence and serving a 32-year prison sentence was also pardoned.

Also in November, President Obiang won presidential elections with 95.4 per cent of the vote.

In December, the UN Human Rights Council, under its Universal Periodic Review, examined the situation of human rights in Equatorial Guinea. The government accepted in principle the recommendations of the working group. The final report was due to be adopted by the UN Human Rights Council in March 2010.

Right to adequate housing – forced evictions

Scores of families were forcibly evicted from their homes in several parts of the country and hundreds more remained at risk. In Bata, on the mainland, there were further forced evictions in the Comandachina neighbourhood where dozens of families lost their homes to make way for a luxury hotel complex and shopping centre. In Bisa, another Bata neighbourhood, over 50 families were forcibly evicted from their homes in January to make room for a promenade along the beach.

Half of Kogo's town centre was demolished in February to build a marina and promenade. Over 60 families were left homeless. Most of them were elderly people who owned their houses in which they had lived for decades. There was no consultation with the residents or adequate notification of the evictions. Just before the forced evictions, the families were offered a small plot of barren land outside town, without services or facilities, to build new homes. However, they were not given monetary compensation or other assistance, and most remained homeless.