Human Trafficking in Equatorial GuineaHuman trafficking in Equatorial Guinea is a substantial issue. Corruption and negligence run deep within its government. In Equatorial Guinea, 76.8 percent of the population lives in poverty. These circumstances make the people of this country extremely vulnerable to exploitation and trafficking.

Top 4 Facts About Human Trafficking in Equatorial Guinea

  1. Equatorial Guinea has remained on Tier 3 from 2011 through 2018. This means that the country does not meet the minimum standards for the elimination of human trafficking. And they are not making necessary efforts to do so. Although there have not been significant improvements concerning the status of human trafficking in the country, the government made progress by addressing this problem. Fortunately, the U.S. is helping Equatorial Guinea develop a plan for this problem. They are continuing to spread public awareness of trafficking within the country. They achieve this by providing shelter and services to victims and investigating more trafficking-related cases. Despite the government taking steps in the right direction, no traffickers have ever been convicted under the Equatoguinean 2004 anti-trafficking law. The government also failed to report any victims, making the exact number unclear. There have even been reports of general corruption by government employees in trafficking-relating cases.
  2. Equatorial Guinea is a source country for human trafficking. The majority of victims are trafficked in Bata, Malabo and Mongomo. These are three wealthy cities in the country that attract many migrant workers who are easily exploited. Women and girls are most vulnerable to sex trafficking and prostitution. In many cases, parents will send their daughters to work for intermediaries in exchange for money. However, these girls are then exploited into domestic servitude and sex trafficking. For men and young boys, forced labor is most prevalent in the mining industry. Traffickers steal boys who are begging on the streets or providing services such as shining shoes. Children from poorer villages are most vulnerable to exploitation. This is due to a lack of education and economic opportunities. Some traffickers even take children with parents’ consent. They promise the family that they will pay for the child’s education but actually selling them into forced labor.
  3. Combating human trafficking in Equatorial Guinea is one of France’s priorities. The French government acknowledges the severity of human trafficking, specifically in West Africa. In 2013, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in France created a strategy to fight this problem. The aim was to decrease trafficking in the Gulf of Guinea countries such as Nigeria, Ghana, and Togo. These countries share the same region as Equatorial Guinea. The transnational human trafficking rate in this region is high. The project focused on stopping cross-border trafficking by increasing the country’s security. By addressing human trafficking in the Gulf of Guinea region, the French government is helping the country escape from its cruel grasp.
  4. The U.S. Embassy is involved with the Equatoguinean government. It is helping the country to address and end human trafficking. The Embassy collects significant data for the annual Trafficking in Persons Report. Additionally, it recognizes the severity of trafficking-related crimes within the country. In order to end human trafficking in Equatorial Guinea, the U.S. Embassy created a list of strategy and recommendations to further anti-trafficking efforts. Some of the main points in this list are:
    • prosecuting traffickers and complicit officials,
    • identifying the trafficked victims and
    • researching the nature of the crime within the country are some of the main points.

A Problem Worth Fighting For

The challenge of eliminating human trafficking in Equatorial Guinea may seem like an impossible task, but it is crucial. This modern-day slavery is a result of corruption and a violation of human rights. Although the status of human trafficking in this nation may seem bleak, the people of the country have reason to be optimistic. Foreign aid from different countries and the acknowledgment of the Equatoguinean government can help eliminate the issue of human trafficking in countries such as Equatorial Guinea.

– Marissa Pekular
Photo: Flickr

Equatorial Guinea
Equatorial Guinea is a small, Spanish-speaking country located off the coast of Central Africa. Similar to many developing nations, Equatorial Guinea continues to work to reduce poverty rates and enhance the quality of life for its citizens.

As part of the effort to meet the targets set by The United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDG), there was a strong focus placed on improving women’s health in Equatorial Guinea. A great emphasis was placed on reducing maternal mortality by strengthening the healthcare infrastructure and expanding the health workforce.

Maternal mortality

Maternal mortality refers to the number of women who die each year due to causes related to pregnancy, childbirth, and/or the period after delivery or termination of pregnancy. The MDG 5 target for maternal health was to reduce the maternal mortality ratio by three quarters between 1990 and 2015 and to achieve universal access to reproductive health.

This translates to a maternal mortality ratio below 75 deaths per 100,000 live births. In order to meet the MGD goal and improve women’s health in Equatorial Guinea, the country needed to improve access to family planning services, encourage consistent prenatal care and quality health facilities with trained workers needed to be established.

Healthcare Infrastructure

In 1992, the country’s Ministry of Health created The National Plan of Action for Women and Children to increase access to family planning services, prenatal care and skilled delivery. A key component of this plan included strengthening the health care infrastructure by establishing a system of polyclinics, regional, provincial and district hospitals. This introduced accessible care throughout the country, especially in vulnerable regions.

The Ministry of Health also instituted a set of guidelines and regulations for these new facilities to improve the quality of care that patients received. Public health education campaigns were then utilized to increase awareness of the healthcare services and to encourage women to access these services. These efforts were successful in increasing the number of women who were aware of the importance and benefits of prenatal care. In fact, women were much more likely to show up for appointments and go earlier in their pregnancies when they had received antenatal education early on.

Healthcare Workforce

In 2008, to ensure that women received quality care, the Foundation for the Development of Nursing (FUDEN) was formed by The Ministry of Health to recruit and train nurses and midwives. Within its first 5 years, FUDEN successfully trained 153 new nurses and midwives. With this strong emphasis placed on expanding the health workforce, part of The Ministry of Health’s goals is to ensure that each village in the country had at least one trained midwife.

The introduction of trained health workers resulted in a direct improvement to women’s health in Equatorial Guinea. The percent of births attended by a skilled health worker increased from 5 percent in 1994 to 65 percent in 2000. The number of women who received prenatal care also increased from 37 percent to 91 percent from 1994 to 2011.

Setting the Goals for 2020

Through improved access to facilities and trained health workers, there was a great improvement in women’s health in Equatorial Guinea. The country successfully achieved MDG 5 with an 81 percent reduction to maternal deaths. As Equatorial Guinea looks to meet the Horizon 2020 goals, there will be a continued focus on improving maternal mortality and women’s health.

The Ministry of Health has developed plans to implement a nationwide reproductive health policy and to use a “Reach Every District” strategy to ensure that all regions are provided with the same resources to improve the health of all citizens. Hopefully, these plans will capitalize on the success of the MDG and continue to improve women’s health in Equatorial Guinea.

– Chinanu Chi-Ukpai
Photo: Flickr

U.S. Benefits from Foreign Aid to Equatorial Guinea
People often think of foreign aid as the provision of emergency assistance without many tangible benefits in return. However, providing foreign aid offers numerous benefits to countries such as the U.S. For the U.S., Equatorial Guinea is by far one of the most important potential trading partners in the world, and aid to Equatorial Guinea is one of the surest ways to create such partnerships. The U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Equatorial Guinea, as it gains access to one of the world’s largest energy exporters.

Equatorial Guinea and Its Neighbors

In order to see how the U.S. benefits from providing aid, it is important to first understand the situation in Equatorial Guinea. As a largely underdeveloped country, Equatorial Guinea also suffers from the woes that plague many of its continental neighbors.

Political turmoil and internal corruption have caused sharp drops in foreign development assistance to the country since 1993. For example, in 2013 the government cracked down on freedom of assembly by shutting down protests and arresting political dissenters, sparking international outcry.

In addition, worsening economic conditions have caused the country’s economy to shrink by nearly 25 percent since 2014 despite this trend of reversed growth being rare among African countries. Most African states have managed to maintain positive economic growth rates in spite of rampant poverty.

For example, although Equatorial Guinea’s fall in growth stabilized at -3.2 percent in 2017 from its all-time low of -9 percent in 2015, most of its neighbors have maintained positive growth rates for years.

Cameroon to the north had GDP growth of 3.2 percent for 2017 and hasn’t dipped below zero since 1993. To the south, Gabon had a growth rate of 1.1 percent for 2017. Although Gabon’s growth has steadily declined since 2008, Equatorial Guinea is unique for having a consistently negative rate several years in a row.

Increasing Economic Prosperity

Nonetheless, the country has a strong export-based economy. In 2016 alone, Equatorial Guinea exported around $4 billion worth of goods, while importing a little over $1 billion. Its trading power has made it one of the few countries in the world with a trade surplus, especially one of that magnitude.

Equatorial Guinea’s economic health relies heavily on its natural resources. In 2016, its largest exports consisted of crude oil (which comprised over half of its exports, at $2.79 billion out of $4.06 billion) and petroleum gas (which accounted for approximately $762 million). Increasing global demand for oil, coupled with heavy reliance on this finite energy product, could make Equatorial Guinea one of the most important developing economies in the 21st century.

The Value of Foreign Aid and Investment

Equatorial Guinea’s economic potential suggests that it is a viable potential trading partner for any country, and providing foreign aid to Equatorial Guinea may be a strong gage for determining how robust such potential trade agreements could be. Increased foreign aid could encourage Equatorial Guinea to work with donor countries in opening new supply chains through trade agreements, complementing international development assistance with long-term economic partnerships.

Providing foreign aid will also help Equatorial Guinea grow its economy and reach its full potential. For example, as foreign donors began slashing development funds to Equatorial Guinea between 2010 and 2014 (from $85 million to $520,000 respectively), its economy began to contract several years later, from $22 billion in 2012 to $12 billion in 2017.

However, despite such alarming figures, there has been some help in the form of an increased focus on infrastructure development. In 2015, China agreed to commit $2 billion to Equatoguinean infrastructure. This support has not only helped revitalize Equatorial Guinea’s economic growth but also brought Equatorial Guinea and China closer together diplomatically.

Equatorial Guinea and the U.S.

In contrast, the U.S. has no trade agreements with Equatorial Guinea. In fact, it currently exports more to Equatorial Guinea (at $278 million) than it imports (at $193 million), signaling a large trade imbalance for Equatorial Guinea.

Furthermore, the U.S. does not supply any foreign aid to Equatorial Guinea. However, it does provide a generous amount to Equatorial Guinea’s neighbors; in 2017, Cameroon received approximately $80 million in U.S. foreign aid funds, while Gabon received over $2 million.

Increased foreign aid to Equatorial Guinea is one of the most practical ways to improve trade relations between the two countries. Each nation has something that the other needs. As one of the wealthiest countries in the world, the U.S. has plenty of foreign aid funds available (specifically, a foreign assistance budget of $50 billion in 2015) to improve the economic outlook of Equatorial Guinea.

Additionally, as one of the largest oil harvesters in the world, Equatorial Guinea has a slew of energy reserves available to export to the U.S., at a total of 1.1 billion barrels of oil as of 2012. It is evident that the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Equatorial Guinea, due to greater access to a growing Equatoguinean hydrocarbon sector.

How the U.S. Benefits from Foreign Aid to Equatorial Guinea

A diversified import sector is critical to the financial well-being of any country. For the U.S., an oil industry with diversified imports creates stable international supply lines and an even stronger economy. Equatorial Guinea’s resources and economic potential suggest that it could be an ideal trading partner.

The U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Equatorial Guinea by improving relations between the two states and opening up new energy markets for American consumers. In addition, robust trade agreements could yield incentives for elevated oil production, thus helping to reverse Equatorial Guinea’s negative economic growth.

– Vincent Giordano

Photo: Flickr

sustainable agriculture in Equatorial GuineaAgrarian-minded agents have shared farming methods online that enable sustainable agriculture in Equatorial Guinea for traditional tribespeople who grow Tabernanthe iboga, a shrub that has many uses in traditional tribal medicinal practices.

One important use of Tabernanthe iboga is to provide hunters and fisherman with stamina and a reduced need to eat and drink as they are hunting and fishing. Iboga also has a lot of other medicinal properties that make its cultivation and use important to the people who live in Equatorial Guinea and surrounding areas. Tabernanthe iboga has been shown to help with diarrhea and various disorders of the mind, and some traditional healers even claim that it helps lessen pain in people who have AIDS.

The Internet Helps Iboga Growers

Before learning new farming methods that encouraged sustainable agriculture in Equatorial Guinea, some of the farmers growing Tabernanthe iboga employed more environmentally destructive slash and burn methods to harvest the plant. Through self-agency by using information about farming available online, the farmers learned about the importance of not removing the whole plant so that the crop can continue to grow in the future, and the need to replace the soil so that the nutrients required to grow the plants do not get destroyed.

The farming methods that were shared online by agrarian-minded agents and used by Iboga growers provide a beacon of light that promotes and supports sustainable agriculture in Equatorial Guinea. However, companies that are not agrarian-minded have passed laws that restrict farmers in Equatorial Guinea from sharing their seeds with other farmers. Such laws, which are designed to protect the profits of biotechnology firms that have created new seeds, hurt farmers in developing countries.

Seed Sovereignty Addressing Restrictions

A political movement called Seed Sovereignty is attempting to repeal the legislation that makes it a crime to save and share seeds. This movement is attempting to restore the right to use seeds to the farmer so that sustainable agriculture in Equatorial Guinea and other areas of the world is possible without needing to buy new seeds each year.

Farmers who violate the law and decide to share the seeds from their harvest with other people can go to prison. In some areas of Africa, the farmer who defies the law by sharing his seeds can spend up to 12 years in prison. Agrarian-minded agents take the opposite approach and empower farmers in places like Equatorial Guinea to protect the plants they grow by sharing their seeds and environmentally-safe farming techniques with others rather than putting them in prison for sharing their knowledge with other people.

An Online Repository of Sustainable Agriculture in Equatorial Guinea

The promotion of methods that support sustainable agriculture practices is needed to help preserve biodiversity and empower farmers in impoverished areas of the world. They offer this help by sharing the knowledge required to farm without destroying the environment so that farmers can produce without worrying about destroying the natural resources that they depend on for food and medicine.

Farmers in Equatorial Guinea have access to new methods to sustainably grow Tabernanthe iboga because of the information shared online by agrarian-minded agents. Tabernanthe iboga is an important plant in Equatorial Guinea, it is a part of their rich culture, and farmers can ensure that Tabernanthe iboga will always be there by growing it using sustainable farming methods.

– Michael Israel

Photo: Google

humanitarian aid to Equatorial GuineaLocated in Central Africa, Equatorial Guinea is a small country that consists of the islands of Bioko and a mainland region where its largest city, Bata, resides. It has a population of about 1.2 million. Per capita, it is the richest country in Africa, with a GDP that ranks forty-third in the world when adjusted for purchasing power parity.

However, this massive wealth is distributed unevenly, and while it may be one of the region’s most powerful oil producers, very few benefit from the oil riches. Its authoritarian government has a streak of terrible human rights abuses, such as human trafficking. Furthermore, because less than half of the population has access to clean drinking water, it often appears as if no significant changes are coming about from humanitarian aid to Equatorial Guinea.

However, this does not mean that there are no groups undertaking vast projects with hopes of improving the country. For example, in 2016 the African Development Bank Group approved a grant of $3.04 million to strengthen the economic connections of Central African countries. This project allowed the creation of a bridge over the Ntem river which will link Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea. By reducing transport costs and times, it positively improves the economic ability and is a successful example of humanitarian aid to Equatorial Guinea.

Economic projects are a significant form of success in humanitarian aid to Equatorial Guinea. For example, in 2009 the African Development Bank Group signed a loan and grant agreement in the country worth up to $70 million. $40 million was used to finance a program to train young workers in middle and senior management in different regions.

With another $15 million, Equatorial Guinea supported the development of healthcare, which particularly benefited pregnant women and children under five years of age. By increasing productivity in all sectors, Equatorial Guinea hopes to improve economic growth which will hopefully improve human development and stability.

In 2006, another program, the Social Needs Fund, focused on addressing infrastructure for the poor. While resources may exist to alleviate poverty, there were few mechanisms to implement these resources. Funded by USAID, it assisted the government to improve social planning and investments, specifically for programs in the Ministry of Health, Education and Women’s Affairs. By focusing on different ministries, USAID was able to examine expenditures and monitor budgets to create more effective programs in each sector.

With continued efforts and foreign support, Equatorial Guinea continues to improve gradually. Development projects have helped push economic growth and have created a more stable and equal society in which the poor can navigate with greater ability.

– Nick McGuire

Photo: Flickr

Growing Up in Exile: Who is Monique Macías?Who is Monique Macías? Currently an author, Monique Macías was one of the only foreign students at the prestigious Mangyongdae Revolutionary School in Pyongyang, North Korea. Now out of exile and in her 40s, Monique Macías often depicts her unconventional upbringing as a black African adolescent in articles and memoirs.

Born in Equatorial Guinea in 1970, only two years after the country gained independence from Spain, her father, Francisco Macías Nguema, was the small country’s first elected president. As a new president, Macías sought to form relationships with leaders of other countries such as North Korean President Kim Il-sung.

Monique Macías stated that her father and Kim Il-sung became fast friends because they had “a lot in common”, pointing out that “both fought against colonial powers and both built their support base through nationalism.”

Regardless, Francisco Macías had a short term due to a series of illegal acts he implemented through the Equatorial Guinean government. In the late 1970s. Francisco Macías was overthrown as president of Equatorial Guinea and tried for numerous crimes including genocide, embezzlement and treason. Francisco Macías was executed by firing squad in the late 1970s.

Foreseeing his exile and later execution, Franciso Macías sent his three children to North Korea to live and receive an education. Monique Macías, along with her sister and brother, attended Mangyongdae Revolutionary School in Pyongyang, North Korea, where they learned to shoot Kalashnikov rifles and participated in daily physical drills that involved running and climbing.

Formerly an all-boys school, the Mangyongdae Revolutionary School made a new class for Macías and her sister as an exception. The special treatment often led other students to ask: who is Monique Macías and why do she and her siblings deserve preferential treatment? Macías was not too young to recognize the special treatment that she and her siblings received in Pyongyang:

“[We] were the only Korean-speaking long-term foreign residents during that period. We lived a privileged lifestyle compared to other foreign students and the majority of North Korean people. Throughout those years Kim Il-sung stayed in regular contact with us…”

Macias lived in exile in Pyongyang for 15 years before relocating in 1994.

So, who is Monique Macías outside of exile? Still affected by the conditions in which she spent her formative years, Macías continues to author memoirs and articles about her incredibly unconventional childhood and discusses how living in Equatorial Guinea, North Korea, Spain and the United States informed her opinions of the North Korean regime.

“There are people in North Korea who know that this is not the right way to live,” she said in an interview with Reuters. “I don’t think it’s going to collapse easily.”

However, Monique Macías does not shy away from defending the country that took her in upon her father’s death and formed her childhood:

“I have found that Western media normally just focuses on nuclear issues, politics or human rights. Together, all this makes people think that North Korea is an evil country and that its people are simply robots….But having lived there, I am proof that all of these things are not always true.”

In the 2000s, Monqiue Macías published her memoir “I’m Monique, From Pyongyang” in Korean.

Photo: Flickr

women's empowerment in equatorial guineaLow rates in the labor force, poverty, discrimination and gender-based violence are just some of the adversities that women living in the Central African nation of Equatorial Guinea still face today. However, in the last five years, the government recognized some of these issues and agreed to develop new plans for women’s empowerment in Equatorial Guinea.

Employment

In 2015, the Equatorial Guinean government recognized the low rate of participation of women in the labor force. A report published by the U.N. in 2014 showed how vulnerable employment rates continue to be higher for women than for men. In a vulnerable working environment, women might suffer low incomes, fundamental rights violations and inadequate working conditions.

In 2013, 82 percent of the female working-age population was part of the country’s labor force, compared to 94 percent of the male working-age population. Today, women represent only around 45 percent of the total labor force, and their income is lower than men’s.

Access to Education

Gender plays a role in disparity in school attendance. According to the U.N. Millennium Development Goals report, girls are more likely to be excluded from education than boys and it is more common for girls to drop out of school among poor households. Despite free education, the ratio of school attendees is 92.1 percent for men and 76.4 percent for women.

Women’s empowerment in Equatorial Guinea was also threatened in 2016, when the Ministry of Education issued a ministerial order according to which girl pupils must submit a pregnancy test result prior enrollment. Pregnant schoolgirls are not admitted by school authorities, forcing teens to seek abortions in many cases.

Gender-Based Violence

Instances of gender-based violence among women in Equatorial Guinea are very high. This includes domestic violence and sexual assaults. In 2011, 63 percent of women 15 and older had suffered some form of violence, with 32 percent being victims of sexual assault. The cultural acceptance of gender-based violence lowers the number of victim reports and legal prosecutions.

Rape is illegal and punishable by 12 to 20 years of imprisonment, but the law does not address spousal rape. Furthermore, in most cases, authorities fail to prosecute the guilty party. According to the U.S. Department of State, police and the judicial system in Equatorial Guinea are more likely to treat domestic violence as a private matter to be resolved in the home.

The Good News

Fortunately, positive steps have been taken for women’s empowerment in Equatorial Guinea. In 2015, the government recognized that, in the past, access to education and some specific careers were “traditionally man dominant,” and it committed to creating better educational and employment opportunities for women. Different projects have also been initiated by cooperation agencies, civil societies and women’s organizations in response to gender-based inequality.

In May 2016, the World Bank Group, in partnership with the Sexual Violence Research Initiative, invested $3.5 million to be spent over five years in different African continents. The investment is for projects which aim to prevent and respond to violence against women. Campaigns and mass demonstrations have also been created in Equatorial Guinea to address gender inequality.

Raising awareness and educating women about their own rights is the first step to obtain women’s empowerment in Equatorial Guinea. It is immensely important that the country’s government and other organizations continue the fight to end women’s inequality.

– Greta Ruffino

Photo: Flickr

Guinea
Equatorial Guinea is one of the largest oil producers in Africa, producing 186,000 barrels of oil per day and ranking 37 out of 98 countries in crude oil production.

Equatorial Guinea’s economy significantly improved after it struck oil in the mid-1990s; its gross domestic product skyrocketed from .254 to 8.663 within eight years. Despite the country’s inherent wealth, over 70 percent of its population lives below the national poverty lines.

The majority of oil money is spent on infrastructure in Equatorial Guinea, leaving little to no funds for health and education. According to the World Bank, Equatorial Guinea spends $80 out of every $100 in its budget on infrastructure and two to three dollars on health and education.

Infrastructure in Equatorial Guinea appears to be a driving force in the country’s political corruption. Human Rights Watch documented the ruling elite’s misdirected spending in a June 2017 report. The elite primarily benefits from the country’s oil wealth by owning stakes in companies that are awarded grossly inflated public infrastructure contracts.

A Parisian court convicted President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo’s son Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, who is also Equatorial Guinea’s vice president, of embezzling millions of euros from his government and laundering it in France. The court seized his assets in France, valued at more than $100 million, in late 2017.

In 2012, the US Department of Justice calculated that Mangue— with an annual salary of less than $100,000 USD— spent $315 million USD between 2004 and 2011. Mangue purchased luxury goods, cars and properties with the $315 million USD— nearly a third more than the Equatoguinean government’s annual spending on health and education combined in 2011.

Mangue exemplifies Equatorial Guinea’s political corruption and its misdirected spending of oil money, but his conviction demonstrates the power of law and accountability. Although infrastructure in Equatorial Guinea remains corrupted, Mangue’s conviction may initiate further investigations into the country’s budget.

– Carolyn Gibson
Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Equatorial Guinea
Equatorial Guinea stands out in Africa as the only nation on the continent that speaks Spanish. It is also unique in its fight against hunger in Africa, even as hunger in Equatorial Guinea itself persists.

The country made news for making the first donation of $30 million to the Africa Solidarity Trust fund, created in 2013. The fund is intended to promote development in neighboring countries. It is not intended to supplant existing aid programs, but make rural African communities more resistant to drought and natural disasters that often lead to food shortages.

This is not to say that hunger in Equatorial Guinea does not exist and is not a consistent issue there. On the contrary, the country’s social safety net is weak, despite the fact that a good number of Guineans are subsistence farmers. About 17.5 percent of the population, or 1.9 million people, are food insecure. Furthermore, natural disasters such as flooding are a continual threat to agriculture.

Additionally, the 2014 Ebola outbreak exacerbated a number of issues in the country, including ethnic tensions and economic inequality. Equatorial Guinea also has a refugee crisis brought on by the instability of some of its neighbors, causing about 4,800 refugees to relocate to the country and putting an extra strain on food and resources.

Income inequality is another less-discussed contributor to hunger in Equatorial Guinea. While the country has a wealth of oil, diamonds and gold, the riches generated from these resources have mostly stayed with the most wealthy members of Guinean society, including authoritarian president Teodoro Obiang. Obiang’s tenure has been marked by political repression and a dim record on human rights.

One of the biggest issues Equatorial Guinea has faced is a lack of visibility to the wider world. Activists are hoping to bring the country’s situation to light, and by extension hunger in Equatorial Guinea. The writer and intellectual Juan Tomas Avila Laurel has written the president of the Spanish legislature requesting that Spain help Equatorial Guinea transition to democracy. Spain and France have brought several corruption cases against members of the government, including one of Obiang’s sons.

Hunger in Equatorial Guinea, exacerbated by corruption, remains a serious issue. Still, it is clear that the situation no longer persists in the dark, and the attention of the world is now on this African nation.

Andrew Revord

Photo: Flickr

Human Rights in Equatorial GuineaThe human rights in Equatorial Guinea are influenced significantly by a nearly omnipotent government. The per capita gross national income is $21,056, which, according to the Human Rights Watch, is the highest in Africa. Unfortunately, much of this is due to citizens who are loyal to President Teodore Obiang Nguema Mbasogo having most of the wealth, whereas the rest of the country is living in poverty.

According to the Human Rights Watch, 26 percent of all children have stunted growth. Nearly half of elementary school-aged children are not enrolled in school and half of the ones who are do not finish. A ruling in July 2017 by the Minister of Education, which expels all pregnant students in an effort to discourage pregnancy, exacerbates the situation.

Human Rights Watch puts many of the violations of human rights in Equatorial Guinea on President Obiang, the president since 1979, and his government. He was recently reelected in April 2016, amid much controversy. Many citizens in opposition of Obiang boycotted the election, given the unlikeliness of his defeat. Those who came out in opposition to Obiang were arrested, sometimes en masse, and held in jail without charges for over one week. In the week before the election, for example, Obiang’s government targeted members of the opposition party, Citizens for Innovation. Even outside of the elections, those opposing the Obiang government are swiftly dealt with, usually under “disturbing the peace,” according to Amnesty International. One story involved police arresting two members of another opposition party for passing out leaflets.

Not only are opposition leaders persecuted by the government, but so are their families. An example of this involved the son and nephew of an opposition leader, whom, according to Amnesty International, the government arrested and held for nine months, only charging and convicting them for revealing state secrets at the end of their incarceration.

The government’s influence reaches beyond silencing its opposition. When President Obiang’s son Teodorin was charged with embezzlement by the French government, Obiang responded by making his son vice president and accusing France of violating his immunity.

In spite of the severe violations of human rights in Equatorial Guinea, many organizations have spoken out for government reform. According to the Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and six other organizations condemned the government for silencing opposition leaders.

The government is making an effort to improve how it treats opposition party. In order to join the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, Equatorial Guinea has to “refrain from actions which result in narrowing or restricting public debate in relation to implementation of the EITI.” In response to this, the government has allowed one of its opposition parties to resume business as of September 2016.

The government is a large complication when it comes to improving the human rights in Equatorial Guinea, but there are small signs of improvement, which hopefully will continue into the future.

Cortney Rowe

Photo: Flickr