Equatorial Guinea postpones visit of UN human rights expert
A planned visit by a United Nations human rights expert to Equatorial Guinea has been cancelled after the Central African country's Government postponed it suddenly, citing “urgent activities.”
The Special Rapporteur on the question of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Manfred Nowak, issued a statement voicing “strong regret” about the postponement and reminding the “that fact-finding missions are planned long in advance and require extensive research as well as logistical and financial resources.”
The visit was set to begin today and run through 8 February but the Government said it had to be postponed because of “urgent governmental activities in the first trimester of 2008.”
The Special Rapporteur said today he subsequently heard from Vice-Prime Minister for Human Rights Aniceto Ebiaka Moete that the Government was in a process of organizing a census for municipal elections.
In today's statement, Mr. Nowak notes “the assurances of the Government to receive him in April 2008 and the Government's intent to honour its commitment to ensure the visit's success.”
The United Nations previously had a Special Representative monitoring the human rights situation in Equatorial Guinea, but his mandate was terminated by the Commission on Human Rights, a body which has since been replaced by the Human Rights Council.
In an April, 2002 statement on the end of his mandate, the expert, Gustavo Gallon Giraldo, opposed the move, saying the human rights situation there was “still serious” and warranted further monitoring, especially the “massive detentions of political opponents” being carried out since March of that year.