Update: Since the issuance of this release, as of 28 April Enrique Asumu has been released from jail. Alfredo Okenve is still in detention.
Global civil society alliance, CIVICUS, is deeply concerned about the arbitrary detention of civil society activists Enrique Asumu and Alfredo Okenve, and severe restrictions on civic space in Equatorial Guinea. Enrique Asumu and Alfredo Okenve are the President and Vice President of the civil society organisation, the Centre for Development Studies and Initiatives (CEID).
The two activists were arrested on 16 April in the capital Malabo following activities commemorating the twentieth anniversary of CEID. They were interrogated by the Minister of Interior for several hours before being taken to a prison in Malabo where they are detained.
“The government of President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, in power for almost 40 years has created unacceptably stifling conditions for political and civil society participation, which are an anathema in this day and age,” said Mandeep Tiwana, Head of Policy and Research at CIVICUS.
Several members of CEID are also at risk of arrest following summons from the authorities to explain their participation at CEID’s 20th anniversary celebrations. CEID facilitates civic engagement on human rights, good governance, community and rural development. The organisation also raises awareness about the management and use of natural resources in Equatorial Guinea.
The arbitrariness of the detention of Enrique Asumu and Alfredo Okenve is symptomatic of the political environment in Equatorial Guinea. Earlier this year, in February 2017, CIVICUS spoke to Alfredo Okenve about the situation in the country revealing a sorry picture of public protests being violently repressed; a majority of civil society organisations being heavily influenced by the state; close monitoring of independent civil society by the authorities; restriction of online freedoms through routine blocking of websites and social media; and the labelling of those expressing democratic dissent as ‘enemies of the state’.
Last year, in March 2016, Equatorial Guinean authorities issued an order to suspend the activities of CEID indefinitely. They accused the organisation of violating the country’s public order law by disseminating messages aimed at inciting youth to violence and civil disobedience during its Youth Forum on tolerance and development on 29 January 2016. In September 2016, CEID announced that it had resumed operations and has since then organised several events attended by public officials including the Prime Minister.
CIVICUS urges the release of the detained activists and respect for internationally guaranteed human rights standards by the government of Equatorial Guinea.
Equatorial Guinea is rated closed by the CIVICUS Monitor.
For more information, please contact
Communication Manager, CIVICUS
Inés M. Pousadela
Policy and Research Officer, CIVICUS