Equatorial Guinea
Urgent Interventions

Government Critic Blocked from Leaving Country Unreasonable Delay in Renewing Cartoonist’s Passpo

Equatorial Guinea:Government Critic Blocked from Leaving Country Unreasonable Delay in RenewingCartoonist’s Passport

Nairobi, May 1, 2018

An internationally acclaimed cartoonist acquitted ontrumped-up charges and released from prison on March 7, 2018, cannot leaveEquatorial Guinea because authorities have stalled on renewing his passport, 9human rights group said today. The charges against Ramón Esono Ebaléappear to have been in retaliation for cartoons that were critical of thegovernment.

An arbitrary or unreasonable delay inrenewing Esono Ebalé’s passport violates his right to leave one’s own country,as enshrined in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and multiple treatiesto which Equatorial Guineais a party. The governmentof Equatorial Guinea should expedite his passport so that he can be reunitedwith his wife and daughter.

"The authorities in Equatorial Guinea should stopprocrastinating and immediately renew Ramón Esono Ebalé’s passport,” saidAngela Quintal, Africa program coordinator for the Committee to ProtectJournalists. “It’s the least they can do, given he was framed in the firstplace. He has suffered enough and should be allowed to join his family.”

Esono Ebalé, who lives in El Salvador, was arrested onSeptember 16, 2017, while visiting Equatorial Guinea torenew his passport. The police interrogatedhim at length about his drawings, but a news broadcast on a state-owned television channel a fewdays after the arrest claimed that police hadfound one million Central African francs(US$1,800) in a car EsonoEbalé was driving. He was formally charged with counterfeiting.

The charge sheet alleged that a police officer,acting on a tip, had asked Esono Ebalé toexchange large bills and had receivedcounterfeit notes in return. However, Esono Ebalé’s lawyer and another person who was atthe February 27 trial, told the organizations that the state’s sole witnessrecanted this story, telling the court that his superiors had ordered him tocharge Esono Ebalé with the crime. Thecourt eventually acquitted Esono Ebalé.

“Ramón should never have been arrestedor spent a single night in prison,” said Tutu Alicante, executive director ofEG Justice. “But for his unjust andprolonged imprisonment, he would have obtained a passport by now, and wouldalready be with his family in El Salvador.”

The human rights groups are Cartoonists RightsNetwork International, Committee to Protect Journalists, EG Justice, FIDH, within the framework of the Observatory for theProtection of Human Rights Defenders, Human Rights Watch, OMCT - WorldOrganisation Against Torture, within the framework of the Observatory for theProtection of Human Rights Defenders, PEN America, PEN International and Reporters Without Borders.

Formore information, please contact:

In Chapel Hill, for EG Justice, Tutu Alicante (Spanish, English, French): +1-615-479-0207 (mobile); or tutu@egjustice.org. Twitter: @TutuAlicante

In New York,for Human Rights Watch, Sarah Saadoun (English): +1-917-502-6694 (mobile); or saadous@hrw.org. Twitter: @sarah_saadoun

In New York,for Committee to Protect Journalists, Angela Quintal (English): +212-300-9004(office); or aquintal@cpj.org. Twitter: @angelaquintal <!-- /* Font Definitions */@font-face {font-family:Arial; panose-1:2 11 6 4 2 2 2 2 2 4; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:auto; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:-536859905 -1073711037 9 0 511 0;}@font-face {font-family:Arial; panose-1:2 11 6 4 2 2 2 2 2 4; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:auto; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:-536859905 -1073711037 9 0 511 0;}@font-face {font-family:Calibri; panose-1:2 15 5 2 2 2 4 3 2 4; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:auto; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:-520092929 1073786111 9 0 415 0;}@font-face {font-family:Georgia; panose-1:2 4 5 2 5 4 5 2 3 3; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:auto; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:647 0 0 0 159 0;} /* Style Definitions */p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-unhide:no; mso-style-qformat:yes; mso-style-parent:""; margin-top:0cm; margin-right:0cm; margin-bottom:8.0pt; margin-left:0cm; line-height:107%; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:11.0pt; font-family:Calibri; mso-fareast-font-family:Calibri; mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:EN-US; mso-fareast-language:EN-US;}a:link, span.MsoHyperlink {mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-parent:""; color:blue; text-decoration:underline; text-underline:single;}a:visited, span.MsoHyperlinkFollowed {mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; color:#954F72; mso-themecolor:followedhyperlink; text-decoration:underline; text-underline:single;}.MsoChpDefault {mso-style-type:export-only; mso-default-props:yes; font-size:11.0pt; mso-ansi-font-size:11.0pt; mso-bidi-font-size:11.0pt; font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-fareast-font-family:Calibri; mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi; mso-ansi-language:EN-US; mso-fareast-language:EN-US;}.MsoPapDefault {mso-style-type:export-only; margin-bottom:8.0pt; line-height:107%;}@page WordSection1 {size:612.0pt 792.0pt; margin:72.0pt 72.0pt 72.0pt 72.0pt; mso-header-margin:36.0pt; mso-footer-margin:36.0pt; mso-paper-source:0;}div.WordSection1 {page:WordSection1;}-->

Sign up now

Subscribe to our latest news & alerts