Equatorial Guinea
Head of state
Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo
Head of government
Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo (replaced Ignacio Milán Tang in May)

The amended Constitution which increased the power of the President was promulgated in February. A transitional government was appointed pending elections in 2013. There were reports of unlawful killings by soldiers. Human rights defenders as well as political activists and government critics were harassed, arbitrarily arrested and detained. Some detainees were subjected to torture. A prisoner of conscience and at least 20 other political prisoners were released in a presidential pardon. Freedom of expression and of the press continued to be restricted.

Background

The amended Constitution, which was approved by referendum in November 2011, was promulgated in February. In accordance with the new Constitution and pending elections in early 2013, a caretaker government was appointed in May which included 12 members of President Obiang Nguema’s family. Although not provided for by the Constitution, the President appointed his eldest son, Teodoro “Teodorín” Nguema Obiang, as second Vice-President.

In March, investigating judges in France sought an international warrant for the arrest of “Teodorín” Nguema Obiang in the context of an investigation into embezzlement of public funds and money laundering. In August, French police confiscated his residence in Paris alleging that it was bought with cash embezzled from Equatorial Guinea. In September the government of Equatorial Guinea asked the International Court of Justice to rule that France should drop an investigation of the country’s President and his son, cancel an arrest warrant against the son, and return seized property. In October the Malabo Investigating Court issued an arrest order against the director of the French branch of the NGO Transparency International, accusing him of libel and defamation, and extortion of the Equatorial Guinea state and illicit amassing of wealth.

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Human rights defenders

Human rights defenders were harassed and arrested in relation to their work, as well as their peaceful political activities.

  • Human rights defender Wenceslao Mansogo Alo, a medical doctor and leading member of the opposition political party Convergence for Social Democracy (CPDS), was arrested without a warrant at Bata Central Police Station, on the mainland, on 9 February. He had voluntarily made a statement regarding the death of a woman during surgery in his private clinic on 1 February. The deceased’s family had accused him of mutilating the body, although two reports of post- mortem examinations confirmed that the body was intact and the woman had died of a heart attack. The Minister of Health asserted that the heart attack had been caused by maladministration of the anaesthesia. Despite lack of evidence and without accusing or charging him, the investigating judge ordered the detention of Wenceslao Mansogo. Various courts rejected the appeals by his lawyers against his arrest and detention. In May he was convicted of professional negligence and sentenced to three years’ imprisonment, as well as payment of compensation. He was released in June following a presidential pardon. An appeal to the Supreme Court against the conviction and sentence was heard in November but no verdict had been delivered by the end of the year.
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Arbitrary arrests and detentions

There were arbitrary arrests and detentions of suspected opponents, including for not attending the August celebrations of the anniversary of President Obiang taking power. Most were released without charge after a few days or weeks. Several were tortured or otherwise ill-treated.

  • Florentino Manguire Eneme, a former business associate of President Obiang’s eldest son, “Teodorín” Nguema Obiang, was arrested in Bata Central police station on 11 August, when he responded to a telephone summons. He was accused of providing documents related to “Teodorín” Nguema’s businesses to third parties. Two days later he was transferred to Malabo and held in the central police station until his release uncharged on 23 August.
  • Police arrested Agustín Esono Nsogo at his home in Bata on 17 October at 11pm, without a warrant. He was held incommunicado at Black Beach prison for at least a week, and was tortured on three occasions, apparently to force him to confess to a plot to destabilize the country. His detention was not legalized until one month after his arrest, well beyond the 72 hours prescribed by national law. He was not charged with any offence by the year’s end.

Some 10 people, including relatives and friends of Agustín Esono Nsogo, were subsequently arrested in Bata. At least three were transferred to Black Beach prison in Malabo and were released without charge on 30 October, together with Agustín Esono Nsogo’s lawyer, Fabián Nsue, who had been arrested without a warrant on 22 October in Black Beach prison, where he had gone to see a client arrested a week earlier.

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Enforced disappearance

Antonio Lebán, a member of the Army Special Forces, was arrested in Bata soon after 17 October and was not seen or heard from since. His arrest appeared to be linked to that of Agustín Esono Nsogo.

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Extrajudicial executions

Soldiers and police reportedly carried out extrajudicial executions.

  • Blas Engó was shot, reportedly at close range, by a soldier outside the prison in Bata as he tried to escape together with 46 others during the night of 14 May.
  • In May, a military officer in Bata shot dead Oumar Koné, a Malian national, for refusing to pay a bribe at a routine road block.
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Freedom of expression – journalists

The press remained under state control and criticism was not allowed. In mid-October, a programme on national radio was stopped and suspended indefinitely as it broadcast an interview with a woman representative of 18 families who had been forcibly evicted from their homes in Bata. The woman had criticized the president of the Supreme Court for alleged personal involvement in the dispute.

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Prisoners of conscience

A prisoner of conscience and 20 other prisoners who may have been prisoners of conscience were released in a presidential pardon in June.

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