a. Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life
Impunity continued to be a problem.
c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
For example, in May security officials allegedly beat Enrique Nsolo Nzo to obtain information about his involvement in planning a public demonstration on May 15. Nsolo Nzo appeared disoriented during his interrogation, which was broadcast on local television. He was released the following day.
Foreigners, primarily irregular immigrants from other African countries, were killed, harassed, intimidated, and arbitrarily arrested and detained (see sections 1.d. and 2.d.).
There were no statistics on the prevalence of deaths in prisons or detention centers.
Provisions for sanitation, ventilation, lighting, and access to potable water were inadequate.
Police and gendarmes were ineffective and corrupt, and impunity continued to be a problem. Security forces extorted money from citizens and immigrants at police checkpoints. The government did not maintain effective internal or external mechanisms to investigate security force abuses, although the Ministry of National Security reported it was required to appear before the legislature to provide responses about abuses committed by individual police officers and that police officers were dismissed as a result. The government did not provide statistics on police dismissals.
The government continued to invest in the professionalization of its security forces. Several foreign contractors trained police officers and military officials on human rights, prevention of trafficking in persons, rule of law, appropriate use of force, and ethics.
e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
The law provides for defendants to confront and question witnesses and present their own witnesses and evidence. Courts seldom enforced this right. Defendants do not have the ability to access government-held evidence. By law the accused has the right to appeal, but legal appeals were not common due to lack of adequate legal representation and ignorance of constitutional rights. The law extends these rights equally to all citizens, but the law was not respected.
The government sometimes failed for political reasons to comply with domestic court decisions pertaining to human rights, including political rights. For example, despite a March 2012 court ruling that Daniel Dario Ayecaba was the rightful president of the opposition Popular Union (UP) party, the government continued to recognize a breakaway faction as the legitimate UP party, including in the May elections, when that faction ran in coalition with the ruling party.
Press Freedoms: The country had one marginally independent newspaper that appeared at infrequent intervals during the year. Print media outlets were extremely limited. Starting a new periodical or newspaper was a complicated process governed by an ambiguous law and impeded by government bureaucracy. In addition, accreditation was cumbersome for both local and foreign journalists, who must register with the Ministry of Information. Certain international newspapers or news magazines could be found occasionally in limited quantities in grocery stores and hotels in major cities, but they sold out quickly and were generally not available in rural areas.
Academic Freedom and Cultural Events
Freedom of Association
c. Freedom of Religion
See the Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report at www.state.gov/j/drl/irf/rpt.
d. Freedom of Movement, Internally Displaced Persons, Protection of Refugees, and Stateless Persons
Protection of Refugees
The president exercised strong powers as head of state, commander of the armed forces, head of the judiciary, and founder and head of the ruling party. In general the government restricted leadership positions in government to select members of the PDGE or from a coalition of loyal opposition parties.
Corruption: The Presidency and Prime Minister’s Office are the lead agencies for anticorruption efforts. Nevertheless, the president and members of his inner circle continued to amass personal fortunes from the revenues associated with oil exports.
Section 5. Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights
Government Human Rights Bodies: All citizens have the right to file a petition with the Commission on Human Rights as part of the house of deputies’ committee for complaints and petitions. Petitions were televised, and decisions were announced on national radio. The commission occasionally resolved such complaints, including cases involving women’s rights in divorce cases. The committee did not address high-profile cases and was limited to the availability of the house of deputies, but it served as an effective remedy to some low-level civil disputes.
Birth Registration: Citizenship is derived from one’s parents. The Ministry of Health requires parents to register all births, and failure to register a child may result in denial of public services.
Sexual Exploitation of Children: Child prostitution is illegal, but some children reportedly were involved in prostitution, especially girls working in urban centers such as Malabo and Bata, where oil and construction industries created demand for cheap labor and commercial sexual exploitation. The commercial sexual exploitation of children is punishable by fines and imprisonment. These laws were generally not enforced. The law does not address child pornography. The minimum age for sexual consent is 18.
International Child Abductions: The country is not a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.
The law provides workers the right to establish unions, affiliate with unions of their choice, and bargain collectively. The law also allows unions to conduct activities without interference. The law stipulates a union must have at least 50 members from a specific workplace to register; this rule effectively blocked union formation.
The law prohibits children under the age of 14 from working and provides that persons found guilty of illegally employing a minor may be punished with a fine of approximately 50,000 to 250,000 CFA francs ($101 to $504). Children younger than age 16 are prohibited from participating in work that may endanger their health, security, or morals, but there were no specific restrictions on working hours for child laborers. The Ministry of Labor is responsible for enforcing child labor laws, but inspectors focused mainly on the construction industry and not on child labor. The government occasionally provided social services on an ad hoc basis to children found working in markets. Attention to school attendance generally focused more on local children than their foreign peers.