Target: David Nguema Obiang, Attorney General
Goal: Free three men held without charge for protesting the Africa Cup of Nations.
Three men in Equatorial Guinea have been arrested after expressing their criticism of the Africa Cup of Nations, which is being hosted by the country. None of the men has been charged with any crime, and at least one of them has been hit repeatedly by police. Sign the petition and demand that authorities in Equatorial Guinea free the men immediately and respect freedom of expression.
Celestino Okenve, the first of the three men to be arrested, is an economist and retired Universidad Politécnica de Madrid professor. He was handing out pamphlets protesting the Africa Cup of Nations and calling for a boycott of the event when he was arrested on the street by seven policemen. When he inquired as to why he was being arrested, one of the officers hit him. He was hit a second time at the police station, again after inquiring into the reasons for his arrest.
The second man arrested, Antonio Nguema, is a former student of Okenve’s who happened to be passing by during Okenve’s arrest. When he asked what the charges were against Okenve, he too was arrested and taken into custody. The men were taken to Bata Central Police Station.
The third man, Miguel Mbomio, is not acquainted with Okenve or Ngeuma, but was arrested at Bata Central Police Station when an officer noticed Mbomio carrying a pamphlet protesting the Africa Cup of Nations. Mbomio was at the station on unrelated personal business.
None of the men have been charged with any crime, although one of the officers told Okenve at the time of his arrest that “what he was doing was wrong and against the President,” Amnesty International reports. The men have been allowed only brief access to a lawyer, who was not allowed to be present for their interrogations. They have also been denied contact with their families.
It is clear that the men are prisoners of conscience, being held without charge solely for demonstrating their right to freedom of expression. They must be released immediately and unconditionally, and Equatorial Guinea must take steps to ensure that human rights are respected, both during the Cup of Nations and in the future.
Dear Attorney General,
I am writing to urge the immediate release of Celestino Okenve, Antonio Nguema, and Miguel Mbomio, all three of whom have been arrested and held without charge simply for peacefully expressing their views. The men have been denied the legal representation to which they are entitled, and Okenve has been hit by police officers at least twice. They must be released immediately and unconditionally, and Equatorial Guinea must reaffirm its commitment to upholding international human rights standards and fair legal practices.
Okenve was arrested by seven police officers as he handed out pamphlets on the street calling for a boycott of the Africa Cup of Nations. When he asked why he was being arrested, an officer hit him. Nguema, a former student of Okenve’s, happened to be passing by and also inquired as to the reasons for Okenve’s arrest. In response, officers arrested Nguema as well and took both men to Bata Central Police Station, where Okenve inquired again after the reason for his arrest and was hit a second time.
Mbomio, the third man arrested, was at Bata Central Police Station on unrelated personal business when an officer noticed he was carrying a pamphlet protesting the Africa Cup of Nations. He was then arrested as well.
None of the men has been charged with any crime, nor have they been allowed unfettered contact with their families. They have been given brief access to a lawyer, but the lawyer was not allowed to be present for any interrogations by police.
The entire situation is a human rights travesty and must be remedied immediately. Free the men, investigate any instances of torture and ill-treatment, and ensure that Equatorial Guinea is upholding its obligations under international human rights laws and fair trial standards.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Schaengel89 via Wikimedia Commons