Equatorial Guinea

Gambia torture hearings start

We are taking a moment to look at what is happening in the rest of the continent, aside from Gabon.

In The Gambia hearings that intend to investigate alleged human rights abuses committed during the 22-year regime of former President Yahya Jammeh have begun.

The exact numbers of people killed or tortured are yet unknown. The 11-member panel hopes to document the scale of the abuses by October 2020.

The hearings are being broadcast live on Facebook:

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More than 1,000 witnesses are expected to testify. Among them are journalists, campaigners, and politicians who criticised Mr Jammeh's rule.

Just wearing a T-shirt calling for democracy was enough to incur the wrath of Mr Jammeh, leading to arbitrary detentions, often without trial, and sometimes death and disappearances.

But in January 2017, under a regionally brokered deal, Mr Jammeh was forced into exile after losing elections.

He went to oil-rich Equatorial Guinea where not much has been heard from him since.

However a recent video surfaced in which he appears to be dancing at an official function with his host, President Teodoro Obiang Nguema. This has led to renewed calls for his extradition to The Gambia to face trial.

President's son demands Brazil returns seized $16m

Mary Harper

Africa editor, BBC World Service

A picture taken on June 25, 2013 shows Teodorin Nguema Obiang (R), the son of Equatorial Guinea's president Teodoro Obiang and the country's vice-president in charge of security and defence, arriving at Malabo's Cathdral to celebrate his 41st birthday
Getty Images
The vice-president is known for his flamboyant lifestyle

Equatorial Guinea has demanded that Brazil hand back more than $16m (£12m) worth of cash and luxury watches confiscated from a delegation accompanying the president's son, Teodorin Nguema Obiang.

Equatorial Guinea's foreign minister described the seizure as a "paltry and unfriendly" act.

Mr Obiang, who is vice-president of Equatorial Guinea, arrived in Brazil on Friday on board a private jet.

Brazil prohibits people from entering the country with more than $2,400 in cash.

Both Mr Obiang and his father deny misusing their country's oil revenue.

Brazil confiscates $16 million from Equatorial Guinea VP's entourage

Cash and luxury watches were in the luggage of Teodorin Nguema Obiang's delegation
A delegation led by the Vice President of Equatorial Guinea - Teodorin Nguema Obiang, son of the longtime president - has had $16 million worth of cash and luxury watches confiscated at an airport in Sao Paulo, Brazil. 

In October 2017, Mr Obiang was sentenced to a three year suspended sentence in France on charges of money laundering. 

Tutu Alicante is Executive Director of EG Justice, an NGO which advocates for human rights in Equatorial Guinea. He explains why he thinks many people in the country won't be surprised by the latest incident.

The Embassy of Equatorial Guinea in Brazil had not replied to a request for comment at the time of publishing. 

(Photo: Teodorin Nguema Obiang. Credit: Getty Images)

Travel ban on Equatorial Guinea MPs

Will Ross

Africa editor, BBC World Service

Parliamentarians in Equatorial Guinea have been banned from travelling outside the country unless the trip is authorised by Vice-President Teodorin Nguema Obiang, the son of the president.

A reporter with the AFP news agency obtained the letter which was sent last month to lawmakers and it says the measure has been put in place on grounds of national interest.

In June a similar ban was imposed on all civil servants.

The restriction is suspected to be as a result of an attempt last year to overthrow President Teodoro Obiang Nguema - Africa's longest serving leader.

The government of Equatorial Guinea said the coup attempt was instigated by civil servants who had travelled to Europe.

President Teodoro Obiang Nguema
Getty Images
President Teodoro Obiang Nguema is Africa's longest serving leader

Equatorial Guinea declares amnesty for political prisoners

BBC World Service

In this file photo taken on May 29, 2015 Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo arrives to attend the inauguration of the Nigerian President at the Eagles Square in Abuja.
Mr Obiang seized power in a coup in 1979.

Equatorial Guinea's president has declared a general amnesty for all political prisoners.

President Teodoro Obiang Nguema's decree was read on national television.

Opposition parties had demanded the release of political detainees as one of the conditions for taking part in what the president has called a national dialogue.

Earlier this year, Equatorial Guinea's main opposition party Citizens for Innovation was dissolved by the authorities and 21 of its members were given long jail sentences following what the government said was a coup attempt by mercenaries.

Mr Obiang seized power in a coup in 1979.

Coup plotter dies in 'freak accident'

An oil baron who was accused of plotting a coup in oil-rich Equatorial Guinea has died in a freak accident at his mansion in London, the UK-based Daily Mail news site reports.

A close friend said Ely Calil, 72, broke his neck, apparently after falling down the stairs at his multi-million pound property, the report said.

Calil - a UK national of Lebanese origin - was alleged to have plotted the coup in 2004 with ex-UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's son, Mark Thatcher, and former British commando and businessman Simon Mann.

The coup attempt was foiled, and Mann was arrested in Zimbabwe and extradited four years later to Equatorial Guinea.

In 2008, he was sentenced to 34 years in prison, although a year later he was released after being pardoned by Teodoro Obiang Nguema - the man he plotted to overthrow.

The Daily Mail quoted Mann as saying the coup failed because Calil promised "many things and failed to deliver".

Mann added:

He was an extraordinary guy. He was very charming, very clever but also devious and manipulative. There are a lot of stories about him."

Simon Mann
Getty Images
Simon Mann was arrested in Zimbabwe as he was en route to Equatorial Guinea
Map of Equatorial Guinea

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Equatorial Guinea opposition banned

BBC World Service

Teodoro Obiang Nguema
President Obiang Nguema has been in power since 1979

Equatorial Guinea's Supreme Court has upheld a ban on the country's main opposition party, as well as lengthy prison sentences for 21 of its members.

The Citizens for Innovation, or CI Party, was dissolved by a court in February after it was accused of involvement in acts of violence ahead of last year's elections.

A lawyer for the CI Party described Monday's court decision as a sentence for dictatorship and shame.

Human rights groups say corruption, poverty, and repression have thrived under the presidency of Teodoro Obiang Nguema, who has been in power since 1979.

In January the government said it had foiled a coup attempt by mercenaries.