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Equatorial Guinea: Arbitrary detention of prominent human rights lawyer Mr Fabián Nsue Nguema
On 25 October 2012, one of Equatorial Guinea's most prominent defenders of the rights of political prisoners, human rights lawyer Mr Fabián Nsue Nguema, was moved to the Comisaria Central (Central jail) in Malabo.
He had been held incomunicado in Black Beach prison in Malabo, since he was detained on 22 October 2012. Fabián Nsue Nguema is a prominent human rights lawyer and a member of the opposition party Unión Popular – UP (Popular Union) which frequently denounces human rights violations. He has defended a number of political prisoners in trials.
On 22 October 2012, Fabián Nsue Nguema received a call from the Inspector General of National Security, informing him that he would be allowed to visit his client, who was being detained in Black Beach prison at the time. Consequently, around midday, the human rights defender made his way to the prison but was not granted access immediately. He had contact with his wife twice that afternoon; on both occasions he was still awaiting a meeting with the prison administrator. After the human rights defender failed to return home that night, his wife notified the investigative court of his disappearance the following day. She also attempted to visit the prison but was turned away after prison staff denied to her that he was being detained in the prison. On 24 October, she was finally admitted to the prison, and it was confirmed to her that he was being held there, although she was twice denied permission to see him. On 25 October, he was transferred to the Comisaria Central around 10 pm, and she was permitted to visit him that same night. The human rights defender reports he has not suffered ill-treatment while in detention.
Fabián Nsue Nguema is a very prominent human rights lawyer in Equatorial Guinea, with a long track record of resistance against human rights violations. He is currently representing Augustín Nzogo, who was arrested on or around 16 October 2012 due to connections with the non-governmental organisation Transparency International France. Fabián Nsue Nguema had been trying to visit his client in the prison for a week, when on 22 October 2012 his request was finally granted. He is an especially vocal defender of the rights of political prisoners, having provided legal assistance to a number of high-profile cases, among them that of a number of UP members accused of having assaulted the Presidential palace in February 2009, and the case of a number of leading figures allegedly involved in an attempted coup in March 2004. The human rights defender was tried himself on charges of defamation against the President in July 2002, and sentenced to one year's imprisonment, where he reportedly suffered ill-treatment, also in Black Beach prison.
In the light of his previous conviction and his outspoken defence of the rights of political prisoners as well as the highly insecure climate for human rights defenders in Equatorial Guinea, Front Line Defenders is deeply concerned for Fabián Nsue Nguemba's physical and psychological integrity and security. Equatorial Guinean law prohibits secret and warrantless detention, and as such the fact that he has not been charged officially with a recognisable criminal offence nor given access to his family and legal representatives is a violation of both domestic and international law.