European Parliament (Brussels)

18 June 2002

Equatorial Guinea: Euro-MPs Pass Resolution Condemning Arrests

press release

Brussels — As EU Foreign Ministers continue (Tues - 18/6) a two-day meeting in Luxembourg - which include discussions on current crises in Africa - Euro-MPs highlighted an Urgent Resolution passed late last week (Thurs - 13/6) in Strasbourg condemning arrests in Equatorial Guinea.

In a strongly worded Resolution - tabled following a proposal by Italian Forza Italia Euro-MP Paolo Bartolozzi on behalf of the 233-strong EPP-ED Group and supported by other Political Groups from across Parliament - MEPs stated that since March 2002 dozens of opponents to the regime of Equatorial Guinea's President Teodoro Obiang "have been arbitrarily detained and subsequently tried".

During the emergency debate in the European Parliament, MEPs condemned: "the sentencing of 68 opposition leaders to jail terms ranging from 6 to 20 years as a result of political trials that are internationally considered as unfair and in total disregard of the most fundamental rights of defence". Euro-MPs also warned that since one trial started on 23 May 2002: "independent journalists have faced insidious pressure on a daily basis".

In one instance alone on 14 March 2002 agents working for the President illegally arrested:

- Mr Felipe Ondó Obiang (former Speaker of the Parliament and founder of the Democratic Republican Force (FDR)) and members of his family;

- Mr Emilio Ndong Biyogo, member of the Popular Union opposition party;

- Mr Obiang Ndong Damaso, former Ambassador to the United Nations; and

- Mr Plácido Micó, Secretary-General of the CPDS party.

The detainees have been prevented from contacting their families and lawyers and, according to observers and journalists present at their trial, many (and their relatives) have been subjected to brutal acts of torture and ill-treatment.

In an Emergency Resolution that was passed unanimously by the 626-strong European Parliament on 13 June 2002 [please see below full text in English EN, French FR and Spanish ES] there is a clear message calling "for this political trial to be annulled and demands the immediate release of all the political prisoners and the members of their families". The Resolution also demands: "that the hounding of members of the opposition parties and their families should cease".

With EU Heads of State and Government meeting this weekend (21-22/6) for the Seville EU Summit in Spain, days before the G-8 Summit Meeting in Kananaskis [Alberta, Canada] on Wednesday 26 June (to 28/6) when G-8 leaders will assess African proposals for the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), MEPs warn: "(Equatorial Guinea's) President Obiang to honour the undertakings he has made to the international community and the European Union to initiate a genuine process of democratisation involving the calling of free elections and the guaranteeing of full respect for human rights".

The 233-strong EPP-ED Group has taken the lead on many humanitarian issues including the crises in Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Equatorial Guinea and the Democratic Republic of Congo, plus highlighted the opportunity presented by peace in Angola, and urged Nigeria to halt the stoning to death of women under Sharia Law. Now with Africa's leaders preparing the final NEPAD proposals for the G-8 Summit, many are watching to ensure that this new structure's peer review mechanism really does apply to human rights, economics, elections and good governance.

In a tough message to Equatorial Guinea's President Teodoro Obiang, Parliament's Resolution calls on both the European Council and Commission "to show the utmost firmness in demanding that these undertakings be honoured, and urges both Institutions to apply the democracy clause set out in Articles 96 and 97 of the Cotonou Agreement unless a genuine process of democratisation is initiated".

In conclusion, MEPs want "the Commission on Human Rights to send the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture to Equatorial Guinea, and calls on the Member States to monitor the situation in the country closely and to propose to the UN Commission on Human Rights that it once again appoint a special rapporteur on Equatorial Guinea".

A survey yesterday (Mon - 17/6) in the Canadian daily "National Post" commissioned by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) showed that "a majority of Canadians say they would support paying one per cent more in taxes if they were sure it would be spent on improving the lives of the world's poor". But the same poll of 2,014 adult Canadians (taken between 7 and 24 March 2002) highlights that "nine in 10 Canadians strongly or somewhat agree corruption in developing countries is the main factor in aid not getting to the needy".

Next week's G-8 Summit in Canada will be a major test for Africa's resolve to sort out the problems of corruption, the rule of law, good governance, and human rights, so that developed nations can help rebuild confidence in development aid programmes. - ENDS

Editors' Note: The EPP-ED Group is the largest Political Group in the 626-member European Parliament and represents Conservative and Christian Democrat parties from all 15 EU Member States [53 German MEPs; 37 United Kingdom MEPs; 35 Italian MEPs; 28 Spanish MEPs; 20 French MEPs; 9 Greek MEPs; 9 Dutch MEPs; 9 Portuguese MEPs; 7 Austrian MEPs; 7 Swedish MEPs; 6 Belgian MEPs; 5 Finnish MEPs; 5 Irish MEPs; 2 Luxembourg MEPs; 1 Danish MEP].

European Parliament resolution on the human rights situation in Equatorial Guinea

The European Parliament,

- having regard to its earlier resolutions on the situation in Equatorial Guinea and to the statements made by the Council and Commission on relations between the EU and this country, which is a party to the Cotonou Agreement,

- having regard to the EU Presidency declaration of 10 June 2002 on Equatorial Guinea ,

A. whereas since March this year dozens of opponents to the regime of the President of Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Obiang, have been arbitrarily detained and subsequently tried,

B. whereas on 14 March 2002 agents working for the President illegally arrested Mr Felipe Ondó Obiang (former Speaker of the parliament and founder of the Democratic Republican Force (FDR)) and members of his family, Mr Emilio Ndong Biyogo, member of the Popular Union opposition party, Mr Obiang Ndong Damaso, former Ambassador to the United Nations and Mr Plácido Micó, Secretary-General of the CPDS party,

C. whereas the detainees are prevented from contacting their families and lawyers and whereas, according to the observers and journalists present at their trial, many of these opponents (and their relatives) have been subjected to brutal acts of torture and ill-treatment,

D. whereas the manner in which the trial has been conducted since it opened on 23 May, including the prior dissolution of the Malabo Bar Council by the government and the fact that the accused are at risk of being sentenced to death, has been deplorable,

E. whereas, since the trial started, independent journalists have faced insidious pressure on a daily basis,

1. Condemns the sentencing of 68 opposition leaders to jail terms ranging from 6 to 20 years as a result of political trials that are internationally considered as unfair and in total disregard of the most fundamental rights of defence;

2. Calls for this political trial to be annulled and demands the immediate release of all the political prisoners and the members of their families;

3. Condemns in the strongest possible terms the torture and ill-treatment to which the political prisoners and their families have been subjected (including during the trial, in reprisal for the statements made to the court), in breach of all the human rights conventions signed by Equatorial Guinea;

4. Demands that the hounding of members of the opposition parties and their families should cease;

5. Calls on President Obiang to honour the undertakings he has made to the international community and the European Union to initiate a genuine process of democratisation involving the calling of free elections and the guaranteeing of full respect for human rights;

6. Urges the members of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly to discuss the situation in Equatorial Guinea within the assembly as a matter of urgency;

7. Calls on the Council and Commission, in their relations with the Government of Equatorial Guinea, to show the utmost firmness in demanding that these undertakings be honoured, and urges both institutions to apply the democracy clause set out in Articles 96 and 97 of the Cotonou Agreement unless a genuine process of democratisation is initiated;

8. Calls on the Commission on Human Rights to send the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture to Equatorial Guinea, and calls on the Member States to monitor the situation in the country closely and to propose to the UN Commission on Human Rights that it once again appoint a special rapporteur on Equatorial Guinea;

9. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Co-Presidents of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly, the OAU and the Government of Equatorial Guinea. - ENDS - adopted on 13 June 2002 by the European Parliament

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