Ndong Bee, et al. v. Equatorial Guinea

Communications Nos. 1152/2003 and 1190/2003
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The Human Rights Committee (the “Committee”) joined two communications which referred to the same facts. The first communication concerned Patricio Ndong Bee who was a prisoner in Black Beach Prison on behalf of himself and four other inmates who were being held incommunicado. The second communication was filed by the wife of yet another prisoner being held incommunicado at Black Beach Prison. The authors alleged that they were victims of violations by Equatorial Guinea of articles 1, paragraph 3(a) and (b), 7, 9, paragraphs 1 to 5 and 14, paragraph 3(a), (b), (c) and (d) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (the “Covenant”).

All alleged victims were linked to opposition political parties. Four of the alleged victims were detained in prison for more than two months without being notified of the charges against them and were finally notified just two days prior to their trial. The fifth alleged victim was kept under house arrest until his trial. The court trying all of the alleged victims (in a mass trial of 144 opponents of the regime) included two-high ranking military officers. The alleged victims were not allowed to prepare their defense or appoint defense lawyers and the lawyers who were assigned to the alleged victims by the government only had a day to examine the charges. The alleged victims were interrogated by the military prosecutor in prison, in front of the officers that had interrogated and tortured them, and several of the alleged victims were sentenced without an opportunity to attend the trial (which had suffered undue delays).  The alleged victims had suffered torture and ill-treatment during their detention, which resulted in the potential paralysis of certain of the alleged victims. Certain of the alleged victims were convicted solely based on their confessions given under torture.

Equatorial Guinea failed to submit any information regarding the admissibility or merits of the case upon committee request.

The Committee confirmed that the authors justified their authority to act on behalf of the alleged victims considering the incommunicado situation in which the alleged victims were being held.

The Committee held that the authors did not substantiate their claim that the proceedings suffered undue delay, as the trial of the alleged victims was initiated on May 23, 2003 and the verdict was handed down on June 6, 2002.

Given the various ill-treatment suffered by the alleged victims, the Committee found that there had been a violation of article 7 of the Covenant. Given that the alleged victims were held for two months before being told why or brought before a court, the Committee found that there had been a violation of the right to liberty, the right to security of person, and the right not to be arbitrarily detained and imprisoned, and therefore a violation of article 9 of the Covenant. Given that the alleged victims were not given time to prepare their defense, not able to select their defense lawyers, were forcibly compelled to sign their confessions and that the court was composed of military personnel, the Committee found that there was a violation of article 14, paragraphs 1 and 3(a), (b), (d) and (g) in conjunction with article 2, paragraph 3(a) and (b) of the Covenant.