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HRW: Equatorial Guinea arbitrarily arrests activists

[JURIST] Seven human rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch [advocacy website], on Thursday denounced [press release] the government of Equatorial Guinea for arresting Enrique Asumu and Alfredo Okenve, activists who lead the Center for Development Studies and Initiatives (CEID) [advocacy site; Spanish]. Government authorities barred the organization's president, Asumu, from boarding a plane. When Asumu and vice-president Okenve met with the security minister the next day, the minister interrogated them and then detained them at the police station. The government had ordered the organization to halt its activities in March of 2016. Human rights organizations are upset about the violation of the laws of Equatorial Guinea, which require those arrested to be brought before a judge within 24 hours and formally charged within 72 hours. Tutu Alicante, executive director of the human rights organization EG Justice [advocacy website], said "The authorities have a long history of harassing, arbitrarily detaining, and generally interfering with the work of human rights defenders in Equatorial Guinea.... This latest incident shows the authorities' willingness to trample on the country's due process laws to intimidate and silence dissent."

This is not the first issue in Equatorial Guinea that has drawn concern from human rights groups. In 2011 Human Rights Watch and EG Justice claimed [JURIST report] voter fraud in Equatorial Guinea. Amnesty International condemned the government for the execution of four men convicted [JURIST report] of an attempted assassination on President Obiang in 2009. Obiang defended [JURIST report] the decision, stating that no laws were broken and all necessary legal procedures were followed.

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