Freedom in Equatorial Guinea

The Political Context, State of Democracy, Human Rights and the Rule of Law

Capital: Malabo

Population: 1,267,689

GDP 2017 (US$ million): 12,486.75 

Language: Spanish, French, Portuguese

Political Regime Type: Authoritarian Dictatorship (De Facto)

President: Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo

Current Political Context

  • The president is the world’s longest serving president, having served since 1979
  • Vast oil revenues fund the small elite that surrounds the president
  • Currently holds a seat on the Security Council since January 2018

State of Democracy

  • The president dominates all branches of government
  • Legislative and presidential elections held on two separate dates in 2016 lacked independent domestic or international monitoring and verification of the voter census, registration, and ballots
  • The President claimed to received 93.7% of the vote while the ruling party and its coalition claimed to have won 92%
  • The President’s son has been given 3 year suspended prison sentence and EUR 30 million fine by a court in Paris, France for corruption and money laundering while he was Minister of Agriculture and Forestry

State of Rule of Law

  • Mismanagement of public funds, credible allegations of high-level corruption and repression of civil society groups and opposition politicians, and unfair trials, persist
  • Governments and rights groups in a number of countries have initiated money-laundering investigations against government officials
  • Obiang elevated his sun to vice president in June 2016, four weeks after French prosecutors formally requested he be brought to trial 
  • Overall lack of steps of prosecution of those who committed human rights abuses, especially government officials and security forces, as contributed to the growth of impunity within the country

State of Human Rights

  • With so much wealth coming in from oil (GDP per capita growing for 2 decades), little has been done to improve access to key rights like health care and primary educations
  • Only a few private media outlets exist in the country, and they’re largely owned by people close to the president
  • Freedom of association and assembly are severely curtailed, and the government imposes restrictive conditions on the registration and operations of NGOs
  • Any media personnel that address human rights related issues are often faced with intimidation, harassment, and reprisals
  • Authorities continue to harass, intimidate and arbitrarily detain human rights defenders
  • Death sentences are still being handed down

Freedom House Democracy Index Score (2018): 7/100