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Equatorial Guinea Democracy and Rights

Democracy and rights

Equatorial Guinea is one of the world's hardest dictatorships. The repression has worsened since the 2018 presidential election, when the last squandering of opposition was imprisoned. The president and his relatives have control over both the media and the judiciary.

While regular elections are held, they are not to be considered free or fair. President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, who came to power in 1979, controls the country and its rich natural resources by oppressing regime critics and human rights activists. Security forces are used to strike at opposition - and people who are only suspected to be.

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Many regime critics have gone into exile. The country's only opposition party, Citizens for Renewal (CI), is in ruins after 147 leading party members were jailed in connection with the 2018 presidential election. They were released ten months later but two of them died in prison - according to human rights organizations, they died as a result of torture. The EU notes in a report that the human rights situation has deteriorated significantly since the elections (see Current policy).

Freedom of meeting is circumvented. Civil society organizations are monitored and difficult to operate.

President Obiang belongs to the largest ethnic group in the country, fang. Other groups of people lack almost complete influence in society. The situation of the Bubi minority group is particularly difficult.

Women have the same political rights as men, but they hold only every fifth place in parliament. In practice, women have little opportunity to organize or conduct political work.

Democracy and Human Rights of Equatorial GuineaEquatorial Guinea is one of the world's ten most corrupt countries; in 2019, it ranked 173 out of 180 countries in the Transparency International Index of Corruption in the World (see full list here). The country's oil resources have provided the president's family with large incomes during the 2000s and 2010s. One of his sons is responsible minister for mines, industry and energy. Another of the sons is the vice president and has been featured in several international criminal investigations on money laundering and fraud.

One step in the right direction is that the country in 2018 ratified the UN Convention against Corruption, something that was required for the IMF to grant a loan. However, human rights organizations are skeptical that ratification will have any effect on corruption in practice.

Freedom of expression and media

The mass media is under strict state control. Virtually all private press is owned by relatives of the president.

The media is in a weak position and journalists are often harassed. Self-censorship is common. Criticism against the president and his immediate circle is considered "attack on the nation". It often happens that the government is blocking social media such as Facebook. Reporters Without Borders ranked Equatorial Guinea in 2019 and 2020 as number 165 out of 180 countries in its index of media freedom in the world (see full list here).

Judicial system and legal security

The judicial system is not independent of state powers, especially the presidential family. Occasionally, in sensitive cases, judges consult the president before awarding judgments. The president appoints the country's judges.

The prisons are overcrowded and the conditions there are miserable. The death penalty can be imposed.

2010

October

UNESCO withdraws "Obiang Prize"

The UN agency Unesco puts the award of the "Obiang Prize" on ice. The award would have been awarded annually to the person who "made the greatest scientific effort to improve human quality of life". In 2008, President Obiang donated $ 3 million to UNESCO for this purpose. The UN body instituted the award, despite repeated UN criticism against Equatorial Guinea for abuse and torture, and despite the knowledge of how the country's elite has enriched while the majority of people live in poverty. As the criticism of the prize grew among international democracy activists, researchers and diplomats, Unesco got cold feet. The government of Equatorial Guinea describes the decision as a rash of "hidden racism and neo-colonialism".

Simon Mann becomes adviser to Obiang

British mercenary Simon Mann, convicted of attempting to overthrow Obiang in 2004, returns to Equatorial Guinea as an adviser to the same president.

August

Four death sentences for coup attempt

Four people charged with participating in a coup attempt in 2004 are sentenced to death in a military court. They are executed within an hour of the verdict. The executions are criticized by Amnesty International, who emphasize that the executed were in exile at the time of the attack. The four were arrested in Benin in early 2010 by special forces from Equatorial Guinea.

April

Excluded from Eiti

Equatorial Guinea is excluded from the project Eiti (Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative), which consists of nearly 20 countries, including Sweden, some 40 companies in the oil, gas and mining industry, as well as investors and a number of voluntary organizations. Eiti's aim is to promote that the income from a country's natural resources will benefit more residents.


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