Thursday, October 25, 2012

A Missing Human Rights Attorney

The Associated Press, the BBC, L'Express, and many other sources are reporting that Fabian Nsue Nguema, a human rights attorney and opposition leader in Equatorial Guinea, is missing. Nsue went to Malabo's notorious Black Beach prison on Monday to meet with a client, Agustin Esono Nzogo Nsang, a schoolmaster detained there on what some allege are politically motivated embezzlement charges. Sometime around 5:00 p.m., Nsue's phone was cut off; friends and family members report that he never emerged from the prison. One family member who went in search of him reported seeing him in detention. Prison authorities confirmed to Nsue's wife that he is being detained there, but she has not been permitted to see him.

Human Rights Watch and EG Justice have called on the government of Equatorial Guinea to investigate the alleged enforced disappearance, a crime under Equatorial Guinean and international law, and account for Nsue. In 2002, Nsue was imprisoned for six months during which time he was tortured. His arrest then was related to some remarks he had made that were critical of President Obiang, Equatorial Guinea's dictator for life.

If you are so inclined, a call to Equatorial Guinea's embassy in Washington at (202) 518-5700 to express concern for Mr. Nsue's safety would be a good first step toward ensuring that the Obiang regime will not be able to harass human rights defenders with impunity. The embassy's fax number is (202) 518-5252. Written messages may also be sent to

I am reminded of Aung San Suu Kyi's famous line in a commencement address at American University in 1997--an address delivered by her husband because she was under house arrest in Burma at the time: "Please use your liberty to promote ours."