The European Union has criticised “a sharp decline” in human rights in Equatorial Guinea where an opposition figure died in custody and over 130 people have been detained since elections last year.
President Teodoro Obiang Nguema seized power in the oil-rich former Spanish colony in 1979 and has faced a string of coup attempts during nearly four decades in office.
Critics accuse him of brutal repression of opponents as well as election fraud and corruption.
“The restrictions on freedom and arrests, particularly those of political opponents … since the elections in November 2017 arouse grave concern,” said Catherine Ray, EU spokeswoman for foreign affairs and security policy, in a statement.
Human rights situation in the Republic of #EquatorialGuinea: As a member of the UN Security Council, Equatorial Guinea is expected to fulfil its international obligations regarding human rights and fundamental freedoms. #EU4HumanRights
— Catherine Ray (@CatherineEUspox) February 2, 2018
“The death in custody of Mr Ebee Ela, a member of the opposition party Ciudadanos por la Innovacion (CI, Citizens for Innovation), confirms the sharp decline in the human rights situation,” Ray said.
Santiago Ebee Ela, 41, who was detained on 2 January, died at the police headquarters in the capital Malabo of “cruel torture”, the CI party has said.
President Nguema said Ebee Ela was “sick” and that the death was not due to ill-treatment and promised an investigation.
Como si fuera poco, a más de 3 meses del presidio del ilustrador Ramón Esono, Obiang Nguema se cargó un muerto, lo niega, y España presiona para que se investigue su muerte. El activista Santiago Ebee Ela, de 41 años, fue detenido el 2/1 y torturado en una comisaría de Malabo. pic.twitter.com/ko7l3b1yvA
— Omer Freixa (@OmerFreixa) January 22, 2018
“Competent authorities in Equatorial Guinea should investigate in appropriate fashion without delay to clarify the reasons for the death,” the EU’s Ray responded.
On 3 January, Malabo announced that security forces had foiled an attempted coup on 24 December, after the arrest of about 30 foreign armed men just inside Cameroon at the junction with Gabonese and Equatorial Guinean territory.
Spanish government demands Equatorial Guinea dictator Obiang holds an investigation into death of opposition politician Ebee Ela in custody. He promised to do as such last week, saying "People die at home, in hospital or wherever they happen to be" https://t.co/WP8kxh0GsJ
— James Badcock (@jpfbadcock) January 22, 2018
The EU said the trials should be fair and in line with international norms.
From the mid-1990s, Equatorial Guinea became one of sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest oil producers, but about two-thirds of its 1.2 million people live below the poverty line.