afrol News, 24 September - The government of Equatorial Guinea earlier this year made promises to start respecting human rights and engage in democratic reforms. At a new review at the UN, these commitments were now described as "empty rhetoric".
In March this year, the Equatoguinean government at the UN's Human Rights Council as usual had received a strongly critical report about its rights standards and a long list of recommendations.
Surprisingly, government accepted nearly all of these UN recommendations, committing to end torture, assure the independence of the judiciary, respect freedom of expression, end arbitrary and secret detentions, fight corruption, and so on.
In June, government went even further as President Teodoro Obiang Nguema in a speech announced massive reforms that would "turn the page in the history" of his country. In particular, he announced a "comprehensive legal reform" with an aim of promoting human and civil rights. Especially press freedom would now be respected.
Today, however, the UN Human Rights Council was told that no improvements had been registered in Equatorial Guinea. The New York-based group Human Rights Watch (HRW) told the Council that since March, the Equatoguinean government had "produced empty rhetoric and continued abuses rather than real improvements."
"It has sought to enhance its international image through a major public relations push while continuing to disregard economic and social rights, harass civil society activists, impose severe restrictions on freedom of expression, and carry out grossly unfair trials." the HRW representative concluded.
"Such developments contradict the basic commitments made by Equatorial Guinea," he added.
The Council was told examples of arbitrary detentions, torture and unfair trial conducted during this year. These included the documented abduction of Equatoguinean citizen in Benin and their following torture, unfair trial and execution; and arbitrary detention of ten opposition politicians and dozens of Nigerians, later sentenced in an unfair trial.
The human rights group urged the UN Council and the international community to enhance its human rights monitoring of Equatorial Guinea and to insist on the implementation of the promises given.
afrol News - It is called "financial inclusion", and it is a key government policy in Rwanda. The goal is that, by 2020, 90 percent of the population is to have and actively use bank accounts. And in only four years, financial inclusion has doubled in Rwanda.
afrol News - The UN's humanitarian agencies now warn about a devastating famine in Sudan and especially in South Sudan, where the situation is said to be "imploding". Relief officials are appealing to donors to urgently fund life-saving activities in the two countries.
afrol News - Fear is spreading all over West Africa after the health ministry in Guinea confirmed the first Ebola outbreak in this part of Africa. According to official numbers, at least 86 are infected and 59 are dead as a result of this very contagious disease.
afrol News - It is already a crime being homosexual in Ethiopia, but parliament is now making sure the anti-gay laws will be applied in practical life. No pardoning of gays will be allowed in future, but activist fear this only is a signal of further repression being prepared.
afrol News / Africa Renewal - Ethiopia's ambitious plan to build a US$ 4.2 billion dam in the Benishangul-Gumuz region, 40 km from its border with Sudan, is expected to provide 6,000 megawatts of electricity, enough for its population plus some excess it can sell to neighbouring countries.