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African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights

Press Statement on the Letter of Appeal issued to the Republic of Equatorial Guinea

On 31 January 2018, the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa (the Special Rapporteur), Commissioner Lawrence Mute, transmitted a Letter of Appeal to H.E. the President of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea in response to reports received regarding the arrest and detention of Mr. Ramón Esono Ebalé, a cartoonist who has been in prison in Equatorial Guinea since 16 September 2017.

The Letter of Appeal raised concerns on the arrest and detention of Mr. Ebalé on charges of counterfeiting money, in light of reports that Mr. Ebalé was in fact arrested in response to his art which regularly criticizes the Government of Equatorial Guinea. Additionally, the Commission raised concerns on the prolonged detention of Mr. Ebalé, given that he was reportedly not formally charged until 82 days after his arrest.

The Special Rapporteur requested clarification from the Government of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea concerning the allegations received, which if true would be in violation of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, including Article 1 on the obligation to adopt legislative or other measures to give effect to the provisions of the African Charter, Article 9 on the right to freedom of expression and Article 25 on the duty to promote human rights.

The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights will remain actively seized of this matter.

Banjul, 02 February 2018