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Gabon copycat revolution fails

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  • bobutne
    afrol News, 28 January - An attempt by Gabon s opposition leader André Mba Obame to stage a revolution inspired by Tunisia and the chaos in Côte d Ivoire has
    Message 1 of 10 , Jan 28, 2011
      afrol News, 28 January - An attempt by Gabon's opposition leader André Mba Obame to stage a revolution inspired by Tunisia and the chaos in Côte d'Ivoire has failed to gather enough popular and international support.

      The National Union party was only founded in Libreville in March last year and legalised in April, uniting many of Gabon's main opposition parties. Party president Zacharie Myboto already before the Union's legalisation had to struggle with its upcoming leader André Mba Obame.

      Mr Obame was known as a loose shot as he warned about a possible coup in Gabon, causing a police investigation and a delay in the new party's legalisation.

      On Tuesday, Mr Obame made another unexpected move as he declared himself "President of Gabon," claiming he had won the August 2009 presidential election in the country. Mr Obame in 2009 had stood as an independent candidate, losing out to interim President Ali Bongo in a rather unfair election.

      The opposition leader made the statement on air on the television broadcaster TV+, owned by himself. He took the oath as Gabon's President and named a parallel cabinet of 19 ministers, 17 months after the 2009 elections.

      Angered by the surprise statement and unconstitutional act, President Bongo disbanded the National Union party and sent out security forces to arrest Mr Obame.

      But the opposition leader managed to flee and took refuge in the Libreville offices of the UN. From here, he has sought the UN and the international community to accept him as the lawful President of Gabon - leaning onto the chaotic situation in Côte d'Ivoire, where the UN acknowledges Alassane Ouattara as the rightful leader despite President Laurent Gbagbo's reluctance to step down.

      Also from his UN refuge, Mr Obame managed to mobilise hundreds of his supporters in protest marches, hoping to copy the popular revolution in Tunisia. Protesters yesterday gathered in front of the UN offices, urging for the international recognition of Mr Obame as Gabon's leader.

      While the Bongo regime is both undemocratic and authoritarian, Gabon's similarities with Tunisia and Côte d'Ivoire stopped there. For Gabonese police troops, it was an easy match to disperse the anti-government protesters with tear gas yesterday. Today, there have been no signs of new protest marches.

      Also internationally, the response to Mr Obame's self-declared presidency has been a cold shoulder. No one has recognised his presidency.

      At the African Union (AU), the move rather caused irritation. AU Commission Chairman Jean Ping - himself a Gabonese citizen, said he had learned about the announcement "with surprise and concern." He reminded the Gabonese opposition that the 2009 election was held "in the presence of international observers."

      The AU urged the Gabonese opposition to rather "take pride in their contribution to the stability and respect Gabon enjoys," further urging it to "exercise restraint." Government however was asked to enter dialogue with the opposition "to strengthen its democratic process and attain socio-economic development."

      Mr Obame obtained 25 percent of the votes in the 2009 elections, according to official results, and it is widely understood that his support is not significantly larger among the Gabonese population. It may rather have fallen after the surprise announcement of his presidency.

      http://www.afrol.com/articles/37158
    • François Gouahinga
      Don t count us out just yet. Turn your ears towards OB University. Big storm s brewing. ... De: bobutne Objet: [Gabon Discussion] Gabon
      Message 2 of 10 , Jan 28, 2011
        Don't count us out just yet. Turn your ears towards OB University. Big storm's brewing.


        --- En date de : Ven 28.1.11, bobutne <bobutne@...> a écrit :

        De: bobutne <bobutne@...>
        Objet: [Gabon Discussion] Gabon copycat revolution fails
        À: gabondiscussion@yahoogroups.com
        Date: Vendredi 28 janvier 2011, 21h35







         









        afrol News, 28 January - An attempt by Gabon's opposition leader André Mba Obame to stage a revolution inspired by Tunisia and the chaos in Côte d'Ivoire has failed to gather enough popular and international support.



        The National Union party was only founded in Libreville in March last year and legalised in April, uniting many of Gabon's main opposition parties. Party president Zacharie Myboto already before the Union's legalisation had to struggle with its upcoming leader André Mba Obame.



        Mr Obame was known as a loose shot as he warned about a possible coup in Gabon, causing a police investigation and a delay in the new party's legalisation.



        On Tuesday, Mr Obame made another unexpected move as he declared himself "President of Gabon," claiming he had won the August 2009 presidential election in the country. Mr Obame in 2009 had stood as an independent candidate, losing out to interim President Ali Bongo in a rather unfair election.



        The opposition leader made the statement on air on the television broadcaster TV+, owned by himself. He took the oath as Gabon's President and named a parallel cabinet of 19 ministers, 17 months after the 2009 elections.



        Angered by the surprise statement and unconstitutional act, President Bongo disbanded the National Union party and sent out security forces to arrest Mr Obame.



        But the opposition leader managed to flee and took refuge in the Libreville offices of the UN. From here, he has sought the UN and the international community to accept him as the lawful President of Gabon - leaning onto the chaotic situation in Côte d'Ivoire, where the UN acknowledges Alassane Ouattara as the rightful leader despite President Laurent Gbagbo's reluctance to step down.



        Also from his UN refuge, Mr Obame managed to mobilise hundreds of his supporters in protest marches, hoping to copy the popular revolution in Tunisia. Protesters yesterday gathered in front of the UN offices, urging for the international recognition of Mr Obame as Gabon's leader.



        While the Bongo regime is both undemocratic and authoritarian, Gabon's similarities with Tunisia and Côte d'Ivoire stopped there. For Gabonese police troops, it was an easy match to disperse the anti-government protesters with tear gas yesterday. Today, there have been no signs of new protest marches.



        Also internationally, the response to Mr Obame's self-declared presidency has been a cold shoulder. No one has recognised his presidency.



        At the African Union (AU), the move rather caused irritation. AU Commission Chairman Jean Ping - himself a Gabonese citizen, said he had learned about the announcement "with surprise and concern." He reminded the Gabonese opposition that the 2009 election was held "in the presence of international observers."



        The AU urged the Gabonese opposition to rather "take pride in their contribution to the stability and respect Gabon enjoys," further urging it to "exercise restraint." Government however was asked to enter dialogue with the opposition "to strengthen its democratic process and attain socio-economic development."



        Mr Obame obtained 25 percent of the votes in the 2009 elections, according to official results, and it is widely understood that his support is not significantly larger among the Gabonese population. It may rather have fallen after the surprise announcement of his presidency.



        http://www.afrol.com/articles/37158

























        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • landry lig
        2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices March 11, 2010 Gabon is a republic dominated by a strong presidency and the Democratic Party of Gabon (PDG),
        Message 3 of 10 , Jan 28, 2011
          2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

          March 11, 2010

          Gabon is a republic dominated by a strong presidency and the Democratic Party of
          Gabon (PDG), which has held power since 1968. The population is approximately
          1.4 million. Former president Omar Bongo Ondimba, who ruled the country for 41
          years, died on June 8. His son, PDG leader Ali Bongo Ondimba, was elected to a
          seven-year term on August 30 and inaugurated on October 16. Irregularities
          marred the election process. The PDG dominated the political arena and
          controlled two-thirds of the seats in the National Assembly. Security forces
          including the military answer to civilian authorities and, with few exceptions,
          civilian oversight of the security forces was effective.

          The country's human rights record remained poor. The following human rights
          problems were reported: arbitrary killings by security forces and ritualistic
          killings; use of excessive force, including torture of prisoners and detainees;
          harsh prison conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention; an inefficient
          judiciary susceptible to government influence; restrictions on the right to
          privacy; restrictions on freedom of speech, press, association, and movement;
          harassment of refugees; widespread government corruption; violence and societal
          discrimination against women, persons with HIV/AIDS, and noncitizen Africans;
          and trafficking in persons, particularly children.

          RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

          Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom From:

          a. Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life

          There were unconfirmed reports the government and its forces committed unlawful
          killings. Most of these reports came in the weeks following the presidential
          election. The government claimed three persons died in Port Gentil during
          postelection riots. The newspaper l'Union stated that at least six persons died.
          Opposition reports claimed much higher numbers killed by government security
          forces suppressing the unrest.

          Ritualistic killings occurred and generally went unpunished. For example, in
          June a six-year-old girl was found mutilated in the neighborhood of Petit Paris
          in Libreville. Two mutilated bodies were found on the beach of Libreville: a
          10-year-old girl who was found in March whose clitoris and breasts had been
          removed, and a 37-year-old man who was found mutilated in October. Authorities
          condemned the killings but arrested no one for the crimes.

          The Association to Fight Ritual Crimes (ALCR), a local nongovernmental
          organization (NGO) dedicated to combating ritual crimes, reported 11 persons
          positively identified as victims of ritual crimes, including the examples noted
          above. Another eight cases were likely but unconfirmed. The ALCR estimated at
          least double that figure of ritual crimes occurred in the country but were not
          reported or were incorrectly identified.

          b. Disappearance

          There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances.

          c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

          Although the constitution and law prohibit such practices, credible reports
          persisted of security forces beating prisoners and detainees to extract
          confessions.

          Unconfirmed reports from the African immigrant community asserted that police
          and soldiers occasionally beat noncitizen Africans during operations to identify
          and deport illegal immigrants. Refugees continued to complain of harassment and
          extortion by security forces.

          There were isolated reports that practitioners of certain indigenous religions
          inflicted bodily harm and sometimes killed other persons.

          Prison and Detention Center Conditions

          Prisons were overcrowded, and conditions were harsh. Food, sanitation, and
          ventilation were poor, but basic medical care was provided. NGOs and private
          citizens occasionally made contributions to augment prisoners' poor food
          rations. During the year juveniles were held in their own facilities, and
          pretrial detainees were held with convicted prisoners.

          There were no known visits by human rights monitors to prisons; however, there
          also were no reports that the government impeded such visits.

          d. Arbitrary Arrest or Detention

          The constitution and law prohibit arbitrary arrest and detention, but the
          government did not always observe these prohibitions.

          In Port Gentil, in the days following the presidential election, there were
          numerous reports of extrajudicial incarcerations and detentions.

          Role of the Police and Security Apparatus

          The national police, under the Ministry of Interior, and the gendarmerie, under
          the Ministry of Defense, were responsible for law enforcement and public
          security; the gendarmerie was also responsible for operating checkpoints.
          Elements of the armed forces and the Republican Guard, an elite unit that
          protects the president, sometimes performed internal security functions. The
          police were inefficient, and corruption was a serious problem. Security forces
          often sought bribes at checkpoints to supplement their salaries. The Inspector
          General's Office was responsible for investigating police abuse; however,
          impunity was a problem.

          Arrest Procedures and Treatment While in Detention

          The law requires arrest warrants based on sufficient evidence and issued by a
          duly authorized official; however, security forces frequently disregarded this
          provision. The law allows authorities to initially detain a suspect up to 48
          hours without charge, but police often failed to respect this time limit.
          Detainees usually were promptly informed of charges against them; however,
          authorities often did not file charges expeditiously and they detained persons
          arbitrarily, sometimes for long periods. There is a functioning bail system, and
          conditional release was possible after charges had been announced if further
          investigation was required. Detainees were allowed prompt access to family
          members and to their lawyer or, if indigent, to one provided by the state.

          Members of the security forces continued to detain individuals at roadblocks
          under the guise of checking vehicle registration and identity papers. Security
          forces frequently used such operations to extort money.

          Pretrial detention, limited to six months for a misdemeanor and one year for a
          felony charge, may be extended for six months by the examining magistrate.
          Pretrial detainees have the right of free access to their attorneys, and this
          right was generally respected. Detainees have the right to an expeditious trial,
          but overburdened dockets resulted in prolonged pretrial detention.

          e. Denial of Fair Public Trial

          Although the law provides for an independent judiciary, the judiciary was
          inefficient and remained susceptible to government influence. The president
          appoints and can dismiss judges through the Ministry of Justice, to which the
          judiciary is accountable. Corruption was a problem.

          The judicial system includes regular courts, a military tribunal, and a civilian
          High Court of Justice. The regular court system includes trial courts, appellate
          courts, and the Supreme Court. The Constitutional Court is a separate body
          charged with examining constitutional questions, including the certification of
          elections. The Constitutional Court upheld and reaffirmed that the process for
          succession following president Omar Bongo's death was constitutional. In
          addition the court determined the succession of the interim president and the
          extension of the 45-day period to select a new president were constitutional,
          and it considered and ruled on formal complaints regarding the conduct of the
          election.

          The High Court of Justice is a nonpermanent special body composed of
          professional magistrates. It is constituted by the government as required to
          consider matters of security.

          The military court is appointed each year by the Office of the Presidency and is
          composed of selected magistrates and military personnel. The court provides the
          same basic legal rights as a civilian court.

          Minor disputes may be taken to a local chief, particularly in rural areas, but
          the government did not always recognize their decisions.

          Trial Procedures

          The constitution provides the right to a public trial and to legal counsel, and
          the government generally respected these rights. Defendants are presumed
          innocent. Nevertheless, a judge may deliver an immediate verdict of guilty at
          the initial hearing in a state security trial, if the government presents
          sufficient evidence. Defendants have the right to be present, have access to a
          lawyer--if indigent, to one provided by the state--confront witnesses against
          them, present witnesses or evidence on their own behalf, have access to
          government-held evidence against them through their lawyer, and to appeal. The
          government generally respected these rights. These rights extend to all
          citizens.

          A criminal tribunal is composed of one judge, two deputy judges, and two jurors.

          Political Prisoners and Detainees

          Politically motivated arrests were usually rare; however, following the
          presidential election, numerous credible reports of politically motivated
          detentions and arrests became public.

          International NGOs have not requested formal visits or reviews of political
          prisoners in the last three years, but they are in principle allowed access.

          Civil Judicial Procedures and Remedies

          There was an independent civil judiciary, but it was susceptible to government
          influence and corruption. Corruption was also a problem in the enforcement of
          domestic court orders. Administrative remedies were not generally available.

          f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence

          The constitution and law prohibit such actions; however, the government did not
          respect these prohibitions in practice. As part of criminal investigations,
          police requested and easily obtained search warrants from judges, sometimes
          after the fact.

          Security forces conducted warrantless searches for illegal immigrants and
          criminals, using street stops and identity checks.

          Authorities reportedly routinely monitored private telephone conversations,
          personal mail, and the movement of citizens.

          On September 2, the Telecommunications Regulation Agency suspended telephone
          texting after well-known figures (and journalists) reported receiving telephone
          text messages containing death threats. Texting was again suspended with no
          explanation on October 13 in advance of the inauguration of Ali Bongo Ondimba on
          October 15. Authorities restored telephone texting on November 10.

          Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

          a. Freedom of Speech and Press

          The constitution and law provide for freedom of speech and of the press;
          however, the government generally did not respect these rights in practice. Many
          citizens hesitated to criticize the government for fear of losing their jobs.
          Local journalists generally practiced self-censorship due to harassment by the
          government. In one case in August, a political cartoonist was detained and
          questioned for two days because he drew a series of cartoons lampooning the PDG.
          The few opposition legislators in the National Assembly openly criticized the
          government, but virtually no citizen, journalist, or politician directly
          criticized former president Omar Bongo. After the death of president Bongo,
          however, the media engaged in a more open debate concerning the country's future
          and the presidential election.

          On September 1, five masked gunmen destroyed the transmitter of satellite
          television station Go Africa with automatic gunfire. At the time Go Africa was
          cobroadcasting for a station owned by independent presidential candidate André
          Mba Obame. Mba Obame's television station, TVPlus, had its broadcast cut off by
          authorities on election day on the grounds it misused archival images in a
          program about former president Omar Bongo Ondimba.

          In September opposition supporters assaulted Patrick Bibang, a reporter at Radio
          Africa No.1, as he was trying to make his way through a large opposition
          demonstration.

          On September 25, Albert Yangari, chief editor of l'Union, was detained and held
          for questioning for several hours in connection with postelection reporting on
          violence in Port Gentil.

          On September 29, authorities arrested and detained political cartoonist Pahe for
          three days for allegedly disparaging the country's military in a cartoon.

          On September 3, employees of Radio-Television Nazareth were attacked outside the
          entrance of the national electoral commission in Libreville by opposition
          supporters reacting to the announcement of Ali Bongo Ondimba's election victory.

          The only daily newspaper was the government-affiliated l'Union. Approximately
          nine privately owned weekly or monthly newspapers represented independent views
          and those of various political parties, but most appeared irregularly due to
          financial constraints or, in some cases, government suspension of their
          publication licenses. All newspapers, including l'Union, criticized the
          government and political leaders of all parties, but not the office of the
          president. Following the death of Omar Bongo Ondimba, privately owned newspapers
          appeared more regularly.

          Foreign newspapers and magazines were widely available.

          The government owned and operated two radio stations that broadcast throughout
          the country. Much of their news coverage concerned the activities of government
          officials, although editorials sometimes criticized specific government policies
          or ministers. Seven privately owned radio stations were operating at year's end.
          International radio stations broadcast locally.

          The government owned and operated two television stations. Four privately owned
          television stations transmitted 24 hours a day. Satellite television reception
          was available.

          Libel can be either a criminal offense or a civil matter. The law authorizes the
          government to initiate criminal libel prosecution against persons for libeling
          elected government officials; it also authorizes the state to criminalize civil
          libel suits.

          The law stipulates penalties for libel and other offenses to include a one- to
          three-month publishing suspension for a first offense and a three- to six-month
          suspension for repeat offenses. Editors and authors of libelous articles can be
          jailed for two to six months and fined 500,000 to five million CFA francs
          ($1,100 to $11,000).

          Internet Freedom

          There were no government restrictions on access to the Internet or reports the
          government monitored e-mail or Internet chat rooms. Individuals and groups could
          engage in the peaceful expression of views via the Internet, including by
          e-mail. According to International Telecommunication Union statistics for 2008,
          approximately 6.2 percent of the population used the Internet.

          Academic Freedom and Cultural Events

          There were no government restrictions on academic freedom or cultural events.

          b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

          The constitution and law provide for freedom of assembly and association, and
          the government generally respected these rights in practice prior to president
          Omar Bongo's death. In the period following his death, the presence of security
          forces became common in numerous well-trafficked areas of Libreville. The
          government dissuaded large opposition groups from assembling by not approving
          official requests to demonstrate and by maintaining a large security presence
          throughout urban areas.

          On August 7, an estimated 1,000 demonstrators led by opposition leaders clashed
          with police at a rally calling for then-defense minister Ali Bongo Ondimba to
          resign. The opposition leaders argued Bongo Ondimba should step down from the
          government because he could use his position to advance his own presidential
          campaign. The presidential candidates attending the demonstration did so despite
          not having official approval to demonstrate.

          Opposition candidates were allowed to hold rallies during the two-week official
          election period without interference.

          c. Freedom of Religion

          The constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the government generally
          respected this right.

          In practice the government allowed members of religious groups to assemble,
          practice their religion, and proselytize.

          In recent years some Protestant Christian denominations have alleged government
          television stations accorded free broadcast time to the Catholic Church but not
          to minority religious groups. Some critics alleged the armed forces favored
          Roman Catholics and Muslims in hiring and promotion.

          Societal Abuses and Discrimination

          There was no significant Jewish community, and there were no reports of
          anti-Semitic acts.

          For a more detailed discussion, see the 2009 International Religious Freedom
          Report at www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf.

          d. Freedom of Movement, Internally Displaced Persons, Protection of Refugees,
          and Stateless Persons

          Although the constitution and law provide for freedom of movement within the
          country, foreign travel, emigration, and repatriation, the government frequently
          restricted these rights in practice.

          The government granted refugee status or asylum and cooperated with the Office
          of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other humanitarian
          organizations in assisting refugees and asylum seekers.

          There were no legally mandated restrictions on internal movement, but the
          military, police, and gendarmes continued to stop travelers frequently to check
          identity, residence, and registration documents, or to demand bribes. Members of
          the security forces harassed expatriate Africans working legally as merchants,
          service sector employees, and manual laborers. Some members of the security
          forces extorted bribes with threats of confiscation of residency documents or
          imprisonment. Residency permits cost 150,000 CFA francs ($340) per year, and
          first-time applicants were required to provide the cost of a one-way air ticket
          to their country of origin. In principle, but usually not in practice, the
          government refunded the cost of the air ticket when the individual departed the
          country permanently.

          During September, after the riots in Port-Gentil, all opposition candidates were
          forbidden by the minister of interior to leave the country. The leader of the
          Rally for Gabon party, Paul Mba Abessole, was directly prevented from traveling
          to Cote d'Ivoire on September 8. Other opposition leaders cancelled plans to
          leave the country following the government's prohibiting Mba Abessole from
          traveling. However, four days after the announced ban on travel by opposition
          candidates, former presidential candidate Bruno Ben Moubamba left the country
          without obstruction.

          The law prohibits forced exile, and the government did not use it.

          Protection of Refugees

          The law provides for the granting of asylum or refugee status in accordance with
          the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol,
          and the government has established a system for providing protection to
          refugees. During the post-Omar Bongo Ondimba period, security forces commonly
          set up roadblocks and checkpoints where vehicles were searched. In practice the
          government provided protection against the expulsion or return of refugees to
          countries where their lives or freedom would be threatened on account of their
          race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or
          political opinion. However, refugees complained about widespread harassment,
          extortion, and detention by security forces.

          To reduce mistreatment of refugees, the government started replacing
          UNHCR-issued identity cards with government-issued ones. Steady progress
          continued on card issuance. Approximately 50 percent of refugees in the country
          who qualified had been issued new cards by the end of the year; an estimated
          3,000 remained to be issued. This program, in conjunction with a UNHCR-led
          information campaign, helped reduce discrimination against refugees.

          Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their
          Government

          The constitution and law provide citizens the right to change their government
          peacefully, and citizens partially exercised this right in practice through
          periodic and generally fair elections.

          Elections and Political Participation

          On August 30, the presidential election was held. This was the first election in
          41 years in which former president Omar Bongo Ondimba was not a candidate. The
          election ballots listed 19 candidates. The election was marred by
          irregularities. The announced election results, which indicated Ali Bongo
          Ondimba had won the election with 41 percent of the vote, were contested in the
          Constitutional Court by numerous opposition candidates. Announced results
          indicated the two leading opposition candidates each received approximately 25
          percent of the vote. There were numerous irregularities regarding voting lists,
          voter registration, late opening polls, improperly secured ballot boxes, and
          armed security personnel present in or near voting sites. On October 12, the
          Constitutional Court rejected a few hundred votes and validated Ali Bongo
          Ondimba's victory.

          In April 2008 local elections were held under the previous administration to
          fill 1,190 municipal and departmental seats throughout the country. The ruling
          PDG won overwhelmingly, taking 96 percent of the seats. The independent
          electoral commission reported that only 25 to 30 percent of voters participated
          in the election, and independent observers estimated that the actual abstention
          rate was likely even higher. Polls did not open or close on time at several
          polling places, and elections in a handful of constituencies had to be
          rescheduled because of logistical and other problems. Approximately 70
          candidates brought electoral challenges before the Constitutional Court
          following the elections, and the court reviewed and ruled on all of the
          contested seats by year's end.

          The government is dominated by a strong presidency. When the legislature is not
          in session, the president can veto legislation, dissolve the national
          legislature, call new elections, and issue decrees that have the force of law.
          The legislature generally approved legislation presented to it by the president.
          The president appoints ministers of government and heads of parastatal
          companies.

          A single party, the PDG, has remained in power since its creation by former
          president Omar Bongo Ondimba in 1968.

          Women participated freely in the political process. Women held governmental
          positions from the ministerial level down and in all branches of government.
          Voting and political activism by women was common, and female voter numbers were
          increasing. There were six women in President Ali Bongo Ondimba's cabinet.

          Members of all major ethnic groups continued to occupy prominent government
          positions; however, members of the president's Bateke ethnic group and other
          southerners held a disproportionately large number of key positions in the
          security forces.

          Indigenous Pygmies rarely participated in the political process.

          Section 4 Official Corruption and Government Transparency

          Official corruption was widespread, and there was extensive media coverage of
          police abuses, particularly at checkpoints.
          The most recent World Bank Worldwide Governance Indicators reflected that
          corruption was a severe problem.

          The law makes official corruption an offense punishable under the law with fines
          and possible incarceration. The Commission Against Illegal Enrichment is the
          primary body responsible for combating official corruption.

          On March 2, the country ratified the African Union convention on corruption
          deterrence. Throughout much of the year, the corruption laws were rarely used.
          However, the president made anticorruption efforts a major emphasis in the first
          months following his investiture.

          New government initiatives reinforce laws regarding required reporting by
          officials holding public office, obliging them to declare their wealth within
          three months following appointment. The Commission Against Illegal Enrichment
          may ask them to resign if they do not do so. During the year the government
          instituted a National Day Against Corruption (December 9) and launched a media
          campaign to raise public awareness of the issue. At year's end the commission
          was carrying out 35 investigations, including 12 cases started during the year,
          involving government officials.

          The anticorruption commission required civil servants to disclose their
          financial assets before assuming office; however, this requirement was not
          always followed in practice.

          The law does not provide for public access to government information, and the
          government generally did not allow such access in practice.

          In October President Ali Bongo Ondimba recalled and ordered the arrest of
          Philibert Andzembe, the governor of the Central Bank of Central African States,
          on corruption charges. The government arrested two other officials on the same
          corruption charges, although the charges against one were dropped. The other
          accused individuals were under house arrest at year's end. President Ali Bongo
          Ondimba's chief of staff resigned amid corruption charges associated with the
          scandal.

          Section 5 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental
          Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights

          Some local human rights NGOs and activists operated without government
          restriction, investigating and publishing their findings. Government officials
          took no known actions on their recommendations.

          There were no reports of the government restricting the work of international
          human rights and humanitarian NGOs, and the government worked closely and
          effectively with representatives of the UN, including the UN Children's Fund
          (UNICEF) and the UNHCR.

          Local human rights NGOs included ALCR (combating ritual crime), Cri de Femmes
          (women's rights), EBANDO (pygmy rights), AVOGAB (women's and orphan's rights),
          Groupe Consience (promoting sex workers' rights), Reseau de Defense des Droits
          Humains du Gabon (an association of human rights NGOs), and others. The
          government did not hinder the work of these domestic NGOs or restrict their
          right to voice their opinions.

          Section 6 Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons

          Although the constitution and law prohibit discrimination based on national
          origin, race, gender, disability, language, or social status, the government did
          not enforce these provisions consistently.

          Women

          Rape is against the law and carries a penalty of between five and 10 years'
          imprisonment; however, rape cases were seldom prosecuted. Rape was widespread.
          Only limited medical and legal assistance for rape victims was available. There
          are no provisions in the law regarding spousal rape.

          The law prohibits domestic violence; however, it was believed to be common,
          especially in rural areas. Penalties for domestic violence range from two months
          to 15 years in prison. Police rarely intervened in such incidents, and women
          virtually never filed complaints with civil authorities. The government operated
          a counseling group to provide support for victims of abuse.

          Although it is illegal, female genital mutilation (FGM) was believed to occur
          among the noncitizen Africans in the country; however, there were no specific
          reports of such practices during the year.

          The law prohibits prostitution, and it was not a widespread problem. Penalties
          for soliciting a prostitute include from six months to two years' imprisonment
          and a fine of up to 1,068,221 CFA ($2,200). Penalties for prostitution include
          jail for three months to one year and fines of up to 240,000 CFA ($530).

          There is no law that prohibits sexual harassment, and it was not a widespread
          problem. The government and NGOs reported cases of female domestic workers
          (often victims of child trafficking) who had been sexually molested by
          employers.

          The government recognized the basic right of couples and individuals to decide
          freely and responsibly the number, spacing, and timing of their children.

          During the year authorities repealed a parliamentary decree prohibiting the use
          of contraceptives. However, access to contraceptives was a problem, and many
          women had difficulty acquiring reliable contraceptives. Health clinics and local
          health NGOs operated freely in disseminating information on the use of
          contraceptives and family planning.

          The government guaranteed free childbirth services, but health statistics from
          local NGOs, such as the Mouvement Gabonais Pour le Bien Etre Familial, showed a
          high infant mortality rate of approximately 99 in 1,000 births. Maternal
          mortality was also high, with 500 deaths in every 100,000 deliveries.

          Men and women received equal access to diagnosis and treatment for sexually
          transmitted infections. Local health NGOs and clinics reported 10 of 100
          patients on average tested positive for HIV/AIDS.

          The government offers limited access to social insurance to vulnerable or
          impoverished citizens through the National Fund for Health Insurance.

          The law provides for equal rights and access for women in education, business,
          investment, employment, credit, and pay for similar work; however, women
          continued to face considerable societal and legal discrimination, especially in
          rural areas. While poor women frequently suffered discrimination, women among
          the educated urban population were treated more equally. Women owned businesses
          and property, participated in politics, and worked throughout the government and
          in the private sector.

          Regulation requires that a woman obtain her husband's permission to travel
          abroad, although this regulation was very rarely enforced. Written authorization
          by both parents is required for minor children to travel outside the country.

          Children

          Citizenship is conferred through one's parents and not by birth in the country.
          At least one parent must be a citizen to transmit citizenship.

          Registration of all births is mandatory, but individuals frequently complained
          of late or nonexistent registration. However, the great majority of births were
          registered appropriately.

          In general the government showed a commitment to children's rights and welfare.
          It publicly expressed its commitment to youth; provided 13,000 academic
          scholarships during the year; and used oil revenues to build schools, pay
          teacher salaries, and promote education, including in rural areas. However,
          there were numerous reports of shortages of classrooms and teachers in public
          schools. Education is compulsory until age 16 and was generally available
          through sixth grade.

          There was some evidence of physical abuse of children. There were occasional
          reports family members sexually abused girls who had passed puberty. When
          reports of abuse surfaced, accused abusers were arrested and tried.

          Although it is illegal, FGM was believed to occur among the resident population
          of noncitizen Africans. Ritual crimes targeting children occurred and usually
          involved the amputation of limbs, genitals, or both. It is believed ritual
          crimes are tied to traditional religious practices. The Ministry of Justice was
          carrying out a study on ritual crimes, but in most cases ritual crimes were
          treated as criminal killings.

          The age of consent and for marriage is 15 years of age for girls and 18 for
          boys. Child marriage is rare. The statutory rape law states that 15 years is the
          minimum legal age for a minor (of either sex)) and an adult to have sex.

          Children in the large community of noncitizen Africans continued to face serious
          problems, including child trafficking and other abuses.

          According to the penal code, lewd pictures and photographs "against the morals
          of society" are outlawed. This law is used against pornography of all kinds.
          Punishment for the possession of pornography includes possible jail time from
          six months to one year, fines up to 222,000 CFA ($460), or both.

          Trafficking in Persons

          The law prohibits trafficking in persons; however, there were reports that
          persons, particularly women and children, were trafficked to the country.
          Internal trafficking from rural to urban areas occurred but remained difficult
          to quantify.

          The law specifically prohibits child trafficking. The law criminalizes all forms
          of forced labor with penalties from one to six months and fines of 30,000 to
          60,000 CFA ($65 to $130). Traffickers can face conspiracy charges, with
          penalties from six months to two years. No accurate statistics were available on
          the number of trafficking victims in the country, although most trafficking
          victims were from French-speaking West Africa (Cote d'Ivoire, Togo, Benin, and
          Senegal) and Nigeria.

          The police and an interministerial committee composed of representatives from
          the labor, justice, foreign affairs, and family ministries were responsible for
          combating trafficking. The government also cooperated with UNICEF, the
          International Labor Organization, and diplomatic missions in the country to
          address trafficking.

          The country was a destination for child trafficking, with victims trafficked
          primarily from Benin, Nigeria, Togo, Guinea, and Mali. Smaller numbers were
          trafficked from Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso, and Cameroon, although children were
          increasingly trafficked from other countries as well. Most arrived by boat and
          were trafficked to Libreville or Port Gentil. Boys were trafficked primarily for
          street hawking and forced labor in handicraft workshops, while girls were
          primarily trafficked for domestic servitude, forced market vending, restaurant
          labor, and commercial sexual exploitation. Nigerian children, in particular,
          were trafficked to the country to work in the informal commercial sector as
          mechanics. Trafficked children generally worked long hours, were subjected to
          physical abuse, received inadequate food, and received no wages or schooling.

          The law provides for prison sentences for traffickers of five to 15 years'
          imprisonment and fines from 10 million to 20 million CFA ($22,000 to $44,000).
          However, the government's antitrafficking law enforcement efforts were mixed.
          The government made significant efforts to comply with minimum standards for the
          elimination of trafficking, including continuing its efforts to intercept and
          assist victims; however, the government did not show progress in convicting
          offenders. There were several arrests for trafficking offenses and, in some
          cases, prolonged detention of suspects. However, prosecution was infrequent, and
          the government did not report any trafficking convictions during the year. In
          November President Bongo Ondimba named a new head to the antitrafficking in
          persons court. Authorities required some suspected traffickers to pay the cost
          of repatriating trafficked victims to their countries of origin; however, the
          consequent absence of victims made successful prosecution of traffickers more
          difficult. The government assisted in cross-border trafficking prosecutions. The
          country is a member of the Economic Community of Central Africa's multilateral
          Cooperation Agreement to Combat Trafficking of Persons in West and Central
          Africa.

          Government agencies, in cooperation with UNICEF, provided care for trafficking
          victims, in some cases through NGOs. The rights of labor trafficking victims
          were generally respected. Welcome centers were established for adult victims of
          trafficking; victims were no longer housed in jails.

          UNICEF and the government sponsored a toll-free 24-hour assistance hotline for
          child trafficking victims, which arranged free transport to a victims' shelter.
          A government-funded reception center offered protection and assistance for
          trafficking victims, including food, education, medical care, and repatriation
          assistance. A second center, run by Carmelite nuns, provided similar services
          for older girls and young women.

          The Department of State's annual Trafficking in Persons Report can be found at
          www.state.gov/g/tip.

          Persons with Disabilities

          There are no laws prohibiting discrimination against persons with disabilities
          or providing for access to buildings or services; however, there were no reports
          of official discrimination against persons with disabilities. There was some
          societal discrimination against persons with disabilities, and employment
          opportunities and treatment facilities were limited.

          Indigenous People

          Pygmies are the earliest known inhabitants of the country. Small numbers of
          Pygmies continue to live in large tracts of rainforest in the northeast. Most
          Pygmies, however, were relocated to communities along the major roads during the
          late colonial and early postindependence period. The law grants them the same
          civil rights as other citizens, but Pygmies remained largely outside of formal
          authority, keeping their own traditions, independent communities, and local
          decision-making structures. Pygmies suffered societal discrimination, often
          lived in extreme poverty, and did not have easy access to public services. Their
          Bantu neighbors often exploited their labor by paying them much less than the
          minimum wage. Despite their equal status under the law, Pygmies generally
          believed they had little recourse if mistreated by Bantu. There were no specific
          government programs or policies to assist Pygmies.

          Societal Abuses, Discrimination, and Acts of Violence Based on Sexual
          Orientation and Gender Identity

          There is no law criminalizing homosexual or transgender activity. Discrimination
          and violence occasioned by homosexual and transgender conduct was not a problem.

          Other Societal Violence or Discrimination

          There was considerable discrimination against persons with HIV/AIDS. Local NGOs
          worked closely with the Minister of Health to combat both the associated stigma
          and the spread of the disease.

          Section 7 Worker Rights

          a. The Right of Association

          The law places no restrictions on the right of association and recognizes the
          right of citizens to form and join trade and labor unions; workers exercised
          these rights in practice. The small private-sector industrial workforce was
          generally unionized. Unions must register with the government to be recognized
          officially, and registration was granted routinely.

          According to the Ministry of Labor, there were more than 136 unions. The
          ministry estimated there were 40,000 union members in total--10,000 in the
          public sector and 30,000 in the private sector.

          The law provides workers the right to strike; however, they may do so only after
          giving eight days' advance notification and only after arbitration fails. Public
          sector employees' right to strike is limited if a strike could jeopardize public
          safety. The law prohibits government action against individual strikers that
          abide by the notification and arbitration provisions.

          b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

          The law allows unions to conduct their activities without government
          interference, and the government protected this right. The law provides for
          collective bargaining by industry, not by firm. Collectively bargained
          agreements set wages for entire industries. Labor and management met to
          negotiate differences, with observers from the Ministry of Labor. Agreements
          negotiated by unions also applied to nonunion workers.

          Discrimination on the basis of union membership is illegal. Employers who are
          found guilty by civil courts of having engaged in such discrimination may be
          required to compensate employees. Trade unions in both the public and private
          sectors often faced discrimination. Their demands or requests for negotiations
          were sometimes ignored or denied. Workers did not face termination due to trade
          union activity.

          There are no export processing zones.

          c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

          The law prohibits forced or compulsory labor, including by children; however,
          there were unconfirmed reports that such practices occurred. Forced child labor
          occurred but was not a systemic problem. Boys were forced to work in local
          handicraft workshops; girls were primarily trafficked for forced domestic
          servitude, market vending, restaurant labor, and commercial sexual exploitation.

          d. Prohibition of Child Labor and Minimum Age for Employment

          Although children below the age of 16 may not legally work without the express
          consent of the Ministries of Labor, Education, and Public Health, in practice
          child labor was a serious problem. According to the law, fines between 290,000
          CFA to 480,000 CFA ($640 to $1,060) and prison sentences are appropriate
          punishments for violations of the minimum age for work. The ministries
          rigorously enforced this law in urban areas with respect to citizen children,
          and few citizens under the age of 18 years old worked in the formal wage sector;
          however, child labor occurred in rural areas, where the law was seldom enforced.
          Child prostitution occurred in the country.

          An unknown number of children, primarily noncitizens, worked in marketplaces or
          performed domestic work; many of these children were reportedly victims of child
          trafficking. Such children generally did not attend school, received only
          limited medical attention, and were often exploited by employers or foster
          families. Laws forbidding child labor covered these children, but abuses often
          were not reported.

          The constitution and labor code protect children against exploitation. The
          Ministry of Justice is responsible for implementing and enforcing child labor
          laws and regulations. Inspectors from the Ministry of Labor are responsible for
          receiving, investigating, and addressing child labor complaints. However,
          violations were not systematically addressed because the inspection force was
          inadequate, and complaints were routinely not investigated. The government
          viewed child labor and child trafficking as closely linked. Many victims of
          trafficking were children brought to the country and forced to work. Domestic
          servitude was a sector with an unusually high number of child laborers
          trafficked into the country. The government took no notable action to combat
          child labor.

          e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

          The national monthly minimum wage is 80,000 CFA ($172); government workers
          received an additional monthly allowance of 20,000 CFA ($43) per child.
          Government workers also received transportation, housing, and family benefits.
          The law does not mandate housing or family benefits for private sector workers.
          The minimum wage did not provide a decent standard of living for a worker and
          family. The Ministry of Labor was responsible for enforcing the minimum wage
          standards and, in general, it did so effectively.

          The labor code governs working conditions and benefits for all formal sectors
          and provides a broad range of protection to workers; however, the government
          sometimes did not respect these protections. According to the law,
          representatives of labor, management, and the government are required to meet
          annually to examine economic and labor conditions and to recommend a minimum
          wage rate to the president, who then issues an annual decree. This procedure has
          not been followed since 1994, partly because the government has been following a
          policy of wage austerity recommended by international financial institutions.
          There are various minimum wage rates depending on occupation or industry, but
          they have not been changed since 1994. There is no minimum wage applied to the
          informal sector.

          The labor code stipulates a 40-hour workweek with a minimum rest period of 48
          consecutive hours. Employers must compensate workers for overtime work.

          According to the labor code and related decrees, the daily limit can be extended
          to perform specified preparatory or complementary work, including work necessary
          to start machines in a factory; supervisors whose presence at the workplace is
          indispensable may also have hours extended. The additional time ranges from 30
          minutes to two hours, depending on the type of work.

          The daily limit does not apply to establishments in which work is performed on a
          continuous basis and those providing services that cannot be subject to a daily
          limit, including retail, transport, dock work, hotels and catering,
          housekeeping, guard services, other security, medical establishments, domestic
          work, and the press.

          The daily limit can be extended for urgent work to prevent or respond to
          accidents. The additional hours are without limit on the first day and two hours
          on following days. The general limit for overtime is 20 hours per week.

          Overtime compensation varies, since it is determined by collective agreements or
          government regulations.

          Companies in the formal sector generally paid competitive wages and granted the
          fringe benefits required by law, including maternity leave and six weeks of
          annual paid vacation.

          The Ministry of Health established occupational health and safety standards but
          did not enforce or regulate them. The application of labor standards varied from
          company to company and between industries. In the formal sector, workers may
          remove themselves from dangerous work situations without fear of retribution.

          The government reportedly did not enforce labor code provisions in sectors where
          the majority of the labor force was foreign. Foreign workers, both documented
          and undocumented, were obliged to work under substandard conditions; were
          dismissed without notice or recourse; or, especially in the case of illegal
          immigrants, were mistreated physically. Employers frequently paid noncitizens
          less and required them to work longer hours, often hiring them on a short term,
          casual basis to avoid paying taxes, social security contributions, and other
          benefits.





          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • bobutne
          If Gabon needs a revolution, the same could be said for approximately 80% of the rest of the world that has one-party systems.
          Message 4 of 10 , Jan 29, 2011
            If Gabon needs a revolution, the same could be said for approximately 80% of the rest of the world that has one-party systems.

            --- In gabondiscussion@yahoogroups.com, landry lig <landry_lig@...> wrote:
            >
            > 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
            >
            > March 11, 2010
            >
            > Gabon is a republic dominated by a strong presidency and the Democratic Party of
            > Gabon (PDG), which has held power since 1968. The population is approximately
            > 1.4 million. Former president Omar Bongo Ondimba, who ruled the country for 41
            > years, died on June 8. His son, PDG leader Ali Bongo Ondimba, was elected to a
            > seven-year term on August 30 and inaugurated on October 16. Irregularities
            > marred the election process. The PDG dominated the political arena and
            > controlled two-thirds of the seats in the National Assembly. Security forces
            > including the military answer to civilian authorities and, with few exceptions,
            > civilian oversight of the security forces was effective.
            >
            > The country's human rights record remained poor. The following human rights
            > problems were reported: arbitrary killings by security forces and ritualistic
            > killings; use of excessive force, including torture of prisoners and detainees;
            > harsh prison conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention; an inefficient
            > judiciary susceptible to government influence; restrictions on the right to
            > privacy; restrictions on freedom of speech, press, association, and movement;
            > harassment of refugees; widespread government corruption; violence and societal
            > discrimination against women, persons with HIV/AIDS, and noncitizen Africans;
            > and trafficking in persons, particularly children.
            >
            > RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
            >
            > Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom From:
            >
            > a. Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life
            >
            > There were unconfirmed reports the government and its forces committed unlawful
            > killings. Most of these reports came in the weeks following the presidential
            > election. The government claimed three persons died in Port Gentil during
            > postelection riots. The newspaper l'Union stated that at least six persons died.
            > Opposition reports claimed much higher numbers killed by government security
            > forces suppressing the unrest.
            >
            > Ritualistic killings occurred and generally went unpunished. For example, in
            > June a six-year-old girl was found mutilated in the neighborhood of Petit Paris
            > in Libreville. Two mutilated bodies were found on the beach of Libreville: a
            > 10-year-old girl who was found in March whose clitoris and breasts had been
            > removed, and a 37-year-old man who was found mutilated in October. Authorities
            > condemned the killings but arrested no one for the crimes.
            >
            > The Association to Fight Ritual Crimes (ALCR), a local nongovernmental
            > organization (NGO) dedicated to combating ritual crimes, reported 11 persons
            > positively identified as victims of ritual crimes, including the examples noted
            > above. Another eight cases were likely but unconfirmed. The ALCR estimated at
            > least double that figure of ritual crimes occurred in the country but were not
            > reported or were incorrectly identified.
            >
            > b. Disappearance
            >
            > There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances.
            >
            > c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
            >
            > Although the constitution and law prohibit such practices, credible reports
            > persisted of security forces beating prisoners and detainees to extract
            > confessions.
            >
            > Unconfirmed reports from the African immigrant community asserted that police
            > and soldiers occasionally beat noncitizen Africans during operations to identify
            > and deport illegal immigrants. Refugees continued to complain of harassment and
            > extortion by security forces.
            >
            > There were isolated reports that practitioners of certain indigenous religions
            > inflicted bodily harm and sometimes killed other persons.
            >
            > Prison and Detention Center Conditions
            >
            > Prisons were overcrowded, and conditions were harsh. Food, sanitation, and
            > ventilation were poor, but basic medical care was provided. NGOs and private
            > citizens occasionally made contributions to augment prisoners' poor food
            > rations. During the year juveniles were held in their own facilities, and
            > pretrial detainees were held with convicted prisoners.
            >
            > There were no known visits by human rights monitors to prisons; however, there
            > also were no reports that the government impeded such visits.
            >
            > d. Arbitrary Arrest or Detention
            >
            > The constitution and law prohibit arbitrary arrest and detention, but the
            > government did not always observe these prohibitions.
            >
            > In Port Gentil, in the days following the presidential election, there were
            > numerous reports of extrajudicial incarcerations and detentions.
            >
            > Role of the Police and Security Apparatus
            >
            > The national police, under the Ministry of Interior, and the gendarmerie, under
            > the Ministry of Defense, were responsible for law enforcement and public
            > security; the gendarmerie was also responsible for operating checkpoints.
            > Elements of the armed forces and the Republican Guard, an elite unit that
            > protects the president, sometimes performed internal security functions. The
            > police were inefficient, and corruption was a serious problem. Security forces
            > often sought bribes at checkpoints to supplement their salaries. The Inspector
            > General's Office was responsible for investigating police abuse; however,
            > impunity was a problem.
            >
            > Arrest Procedures and Treatment While in Detention
            >
            > The law requires arrest warrants based on sufficient evidence and issued by a
            > duly authorized official; however, security forces frequently disregarded this
            > provision. The law allows authorities to initially detain a suspect up to 48
            > hours without charge, but police often failed to respect this time limit.
            > Detainees usually were promptly informed of charges against them; however,
            > authorities often did not file charges expeditiously and they detained persons
            > arbitrarily, sometimes for long periods. There is a functioning bail system, and
            > conditional release was possible after charges had been announced if further
            > investigation was required. Detainees were allowed prompt access to family
            > members and to their lawyer or, if indigent, to one provided by the state.
            >
            > Members of the security forces continued to detain individuals at roadblocks
            > under the guise of checking vehicle registration and identity papers. Security
            > forces frequently used such operations to extort money.
            >
            > Pretrial detention, limited to six months for a misdemeanor and one year for a
            > felony charge, may be extended for six months by the examining magistrate.
            > Pretrial detainees have the right of free access to their attorneys, and this
            > right was generally respected. Detainees have the right to an expeditious trial,
            > but overburdened dockets resulted in prolonged pretrial detention.
            >
            > e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
            >
            > Although the law provides for an independent judiciary, the judiciary was
            > inefficient and remained susceptible to government influence. The president
            > appoints and can dismiss judges through the Ministry of Justice, to which the
            > judiciary is accountable. Corruption was a problem.
            >
            > The judicial system includes regular courts, a military tribunal, and a civilian
            > High Court of Justice. The regular court system includes trial courts, appellate
            > courts, and the Supreme Court. The Constitutional Court is a separate body
            > charged with examining constitutional questions, including the certification of
            > elections. The Constitutional Court upheld and reaffirmed that the process for
            > succession following president Omar Bongo's death was constitutional. In
            > addition the court determined the succession of the interim president and the
            > extension of the 45-day period to select a new president were constitutional,
            > and it considered and ruled on formal complaints regarding the conduct of the
            > election.
            >
            > The High Court of Justice is a nonpermanent special body composed of
            > professional magistrates. It is constituted by the government as required to
            > consider matters of security.
            >
            > The military court is appointed each year by the Office of the Presidency and is
            > composed of selected magistrates and military personnel. The court provides the
            > same basic legal rights as a civilian court.
            >
            > Minor disputes may be taken to a local chief, particularly in rural areas, but
            > the government did not always recognize their decisions.
            >
            > Trial Procedures
            >
            > The constitution provides the right to a public trial and to legal counsel, and
            > the government generally respected these rights. Defendants are presumed
            > innocent. Nevertheless, a judge may deliver an immediate verdict of guilty at
            > the initial hearing in a state security trial, if the government presents
            > sufficient evidence. Defendants have the right to be present, have access to a
            > lawyer--if indigent, to one provided by the state--confront witnesses against
            > them, present witnesses or evidence on their own behalf, have access to
            > government-held evidence against them through their lawyer, and to appeal. The
            > government generally respected these rights. These rights extend to all
            > citizens.
            >
            > A criminal tribunal is composed of one judge, two deputy judges, and two jurors.
            >
            > Political Prisoners and Detainees
            >
            > Politically motivated arrests were usually rare; however, following the
            > presidential election, numerous credible reports of politically motivated
            > detentions and arrests became public.
            >
            > International NGOs have not requested formal visits or reviews of political
            > prisoners in the last three years, but they are in principle allowed access.
            >
            > Civil Judicial Procedures and Remedies
            >
            > There was an independent civil judiciary, but it was susceptible to government
            > influence and corruption. Corruption was also a problem in the enforcement of
            > domestic court orders. Administrative remedies were not generally available.
            >
            > f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence
            >
            > The constitution and law prohibit such actions; however, the government did not
            > respect these prohibitions in practice. As part of criminal investigations,
            > police requested and easily obtained search warrants from judges, sometimes
            > after the fact.
            >
            > Security forces conducted warrantless searches for illegal immigrants and
            > criminals, using street stops and identity checks.
            >
            > Authorities reportedly routinely monitored private telephone conversations,
            > personal mail, and the movement of citizens.
            >
            > On September 2, the Telecommunications Regulation Agency suspended telephone
            > texting after well-known figures (and journalists) reported receiving telephone
            > text messages containing death threats. Texting was again suspended with no
            > explanation on October 13 in advance of the inauguration of Ali Bongo Ondimba on
            > October 15. Authorities restored telephone texting on November 10.
            >
            > Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
            >
            > a. Freedom of Speech and Press
            >
            > The constitution and law provide for freedom of speech and of the press;
            > however, the government generally did not respect these rights in practice. Many
            > citizens hesitated to criticize the government for fear of losing their jobs.
            > Local journalists generally practiced self-censorship due to harassment by the
            > government. In one case in August, a political cartoonist was detained and
            > questioned for two days because he drew a series of cartoons lampooning the PDG.
            > The few opposition legislators in the National Assembly openly criticized the
            > government, but virtually no citizen, journalist, or politician directly
            > criticized former president Omar Bongo. After the death of president Bongo,
            > however, the media engaged in a more open debate concerning the country's future
            > and the presidential election.
            >
            > On September 1, five masked gunmen destroyed the transmitter of satellite
            > television station Go Africa with automatic gunfire. At the time Go Africa was
            > cobroadcasting for a station owned by independent presidential candidate André
            > Mba Obame. Mba Obame's television station, TVPlus, had its broadcast cut off by
            > authorities on election day on the grounds it misused archival images in a
            > program about former president Omar Bongo Ondimba.
            >
            > In September opposition supporters assaulted Patrick Bibang, a reporter at Radio
            > Africa No.1, as he was trying to make his way through a large opposition
            > demonstration.
            >
            > On September 25, Albert Yangari, chief editor of l'Union, was detained and held
            > for questioning for several hours in connection with postelection reporting on
            > violence in Port Gentil.
            >
            > On September 29, authorities arrested and detained political cartoonist Pahe for
            > three days for allegedly disparaging the country's military in a cartoon.
            >
            > On September 3, employees of Radio-Television Nazareth were attacked outside the
            > entrance of the national electoral commission in Libreville by opposition
            > supporters reacting to the announcement of Ali Bongo Ondimba's election victory.
            >
            > The only daily newspaper was the government-affiliated l'Union. Approximately
            > nine privately owned weekly or monthly newspapers represented independent views
            > and those of various political parties, but most appeared irregularly due to
            > financial constraints or, in some cases, government suspension of their
            > publication licenses. All newspapers, including l'Union, criticized the
            > government and political leaders of all parties, but not the office of the
            > president. Following the death of Omar Bongo Ondimba, privately owned newspapers
            > appeared more regularly.
            >
            > Foreign newspapers and magazines were widely available.
            >
            > The government owned and operated two radio stations that broadcast throughout
            > the country. Much of their news coverage concerned the activities of government
            > officials, although editorials sometimes criticized specific government policies
            > or ministers. Seven privately owned radio stations were operating at year's end.
            > International radio stations broadcast locally.
            >
            > The government owned and operated two television stations. Four privately owned
            > television stations transmitted 24 hours a day. Satellite television reception
            > was available.
            >
            > Libel can be either a criminal offense or a civil matter. The law authorizes the
            > government to initiate criminal libel prosecution against persons for libeling
            > elected government officials; it also authorizes the state to criminalize civil
            > libel suits.
            >
            > The law stipulates penalties for libel and other offenses to include a one- to
            > three-month publishing suspension for a first offense and a three- to six-month
            > suspension for repeat offenses. Editors and authors of libelous articles can be
            > jailed for two to six months and fined 500,000 to five million CFA francs
            > ($1,100 to $11,000).
            >
            > Internet Freedom
            >
            > There were no government restrictions on access to the Internet or reports the
            > government monitored e-mail or Internet chat rooms. Individuals and groups could
            > engage in the peaceful expression of views via the Internet, including by
            > e-mail. According to International Telecommunication Union statistics for 2008,
            > approximately 6.2 percent of the population used the Internet.
            >
            > Academic Freedom and Cultural Events
            >
            > There were no government restrictions on academic freedom or cultural events.
            >
            > b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association
            >
            > The constitution and law provide for freedom of assembly and association, and
            > the government generally respected these rights in practice prior to president
            > Omar Bongo's death. In the period following his death, the presence of security
            > forces became common in numerous well-trafficked areas of Libreville. The
            > government dissuaded large opposition groups from assembling by not approving
            > official requests to demonstrate and by maintaining a large security presence
            > throughout urban areas.
            >
            > On August 7, an estimated 1,000 demonstrators led by opposition leaders clashed
            > with police at a rally calling for then-defense minister Ali Bongo Ondimba to
            > resign. The opposition leaders argued Bongo Ondimba should step down from the
            > government because he could use his position to advance his own presidential
            > campaign. The presidential candidates attending the demonstration did so despite
            > not having official approval to demonstrate.
            >
            > Opposition candidates were allowed to hold rallies during the two-week official
            > election period without interference.
            >
            > c. Freedom of Religion
            >
            > The constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the government generally
            > respected this right.
            >
            > In practice the government allowed members of religious groups to assemble,
            > practice their religion, and proselytize.
            >
            > In recent years some Protestant Christian denominations have alleged government
            > television stations accorded free broadcast time to the Catholic Church but not
            > to minority religious groups. Some critics alleged the armed forces favored
            > Roman Catholics and Muslims in hiring and promotion.
            >
            > Societal Abuses and Discrimination
            >
            > There was no significant Jewish community, and there were no reports of
            > anti-Semitic acts.
            >
            > For a more detailed discussion, see the 2009 International Religious Freedom
            > Report at www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf.
            >
            > d. Freedom of Movement, Internally Displaced Persons, Protection of Refugees,
            > and Stateless Persons
            >
            > Although the constitution and law provide for freedom of movement within the
            > country, foreign travel, emigration, and repatriation, the government frequently
            > restricted these rights in practice.
            >
            > The government granted refugee status or asylum and cooperated with the Office
            > of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other humanitarian
            > organizations in assisting refugees and asylum seekers.
            >
            > There were no legally mandated restrictions on internal movement, but the
            > military, police, and gendarmes continued to stop travelers frequently to check
            > identity, residence, and registration documents, or to demand bribes. Members of
            > the security forces harassed expatriate Africans working legally as merchants,
            > service sector employees, and manual laborers. Some members of the security
            > forces extorted bribes with threats of confiscation of residency documents or
            > imprisonment. Residency permits cost 150,000 CFA francs ($340) per year, and
            > first-time applicants were required to provide the cost of a one-way air ticket
            > to their country of origin. In principle, but usually not in practice, the
            > government refunded the cost of the air ticket when the individual departed the
            > country permanently.
            >
            > During September, after the riots in Port-Gentil, all opposition candidates were
            > forbidden by the minister of interior to leave the country. The leader of the
            > Rally for Gabon party, Paul Mba Abessole, was directly prevented from traveling
            > to Cote d'Ivoire on September 8. Other opposition leaders cancelled plans to
            > leave the country following the government's prohibiting Mba Abessole from
            > traveling. However, four days after the announced ban on travel by opposition
            > candidates, former presidential candidate Bruno Ben Moubamba left the country
            > without obstruction.
            >
            > The law prohibits forced exile, and the government did not use it.
            >
            > Protection of Refugees
            >
            > The law provides for the granting of asylum or refugee status in accordance with
            > the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol,
            > and the government has established a system for providing protection to
            > refugees. During the post-Omar Bongo Ondimba period, security forces commonly
            > set up roadblocks and checkpoints where vehicles were searched. In practice the
            > government provided protection against the expulsion or return of refugees to
            > countries where their lives or freedom would be threatened on account of their
            > race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or
            > political opinion. However, refugees complained about widespread harassment,
            > extortion, and detention by security forces.
            >
            > To reduce mistreatment of refugees, the government started replacing
            > UNHCR-issued identity cards with government-issued ones. Steady progress
            > continued on card issuance. Approximately 50 percent of refugees in the country
            > who qualified had been issued new cards by the end of the year; an estimated
            > 3,000 remained to be issued. This program, in conjunction with a UNHCR-led
            > information campaign, helped reduce discrimination against refugees.
            >
            > Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their
            > Government
            >
            > The constitution and law provide citizens the right to change their government
            > peacefully, and citizens partially exercised this right in practice through
            > periodic and generally fair elections.
            >
            > Elections and Political Participation
            >
            > On August 30, the presidential election was held. This was the first election in
            > 41 years in which former president Omar Bongo Ondimba was not a candidate. The
            > election ballots listed 19 candidates. The election was marred by
            > irregularities. The announced election results, which indicated Ali Bongo
            > Ondimba had won the election with 41 percent of the vote, were contested in the
            > Constitutional Court by numerous opposition candidates. Announced results
            > indicated the two leading opposition candidates each received approximately 25
            > percent of the vote. There were numerous irregularities regarding voting lists,
            > voter registration, late opening polls, improperly secured ballot boxes, and
            > armed security personnel present in or near voting sites. On October 12, the
            > Constitutional Court rejected a few hundred votes and validated Ali Bongo
            > Ondimba's victory.
            >
            > In April 2008 local elections were held under the previous administration to
            > fill 1,190 municipal and departmental seats throughout the country. The ruling
            > PDG won overwhelmingly, taking 96 percent of the seats. The independent
            > electoral commission reported that only 25 to 30 percent of voters participated
            > in the election, and independent observers estimated that the actual abstention
            > rate was likely even higher. Polls did not open or close on time at several
            > polling places, and elections in a handful of constituencies had to be
            > rescheduled because of logistical and other problems. Approximately 70
            > candidates brought electoral challenges before the Constitutional Court
            > following the elections, and the court reviewed and ruled on all of the
            > contested seats by year's end.
            >
            > The government is dominated by a strong presidency. When the legislature is not
            > in session, the president can veto legislation, dissolve the national
            > legislature, call new elections, and issue decrees that have the force of law.
            > The legislature generally approved legislation presented to it by the president.
            > The president appoints ministers of government and heads of parastatal
            > companies.
            >
            > A single party, the PDG, has remained in power since its creation by former
            > president Omar Bongo Ondimba in 1968.
            >
            > Women participated freely in the political process. Women held governmental
            > positions from the ministerial level down and in all branches of government.
            > Voting and political activism by women was common, and female voter numbers were
            > increasing. There were six women in President Ali Bongo Ondimba's cabinet.
            >
            > Members of all major ethnic groups continued to occupy prominent government
            > positions; however, members of the president's Bateke ethnic group and other
            > southerners held a disproportionately large number of key positions in the
            > security forces.
            >
            > Indigenous Pygmies rarely participated in the political process.
            >
            > Section 4 Official Corruption and Government Transparency
            >
            > Official corruption was widespread, and there was extensive media coverage of
            > police abuses, particularly at checkpoints.
            > The most recent World Bank Worldwide Governance Indicators reflected that
            > corruption was a severe problem.
            >
            > The law makes official corruption an offense punishable under the law with fines
            > and possible incarceration. The Commission Against Illegal Enrichment is the
            > primary body responsible for combating official corruption.
            >
            > On March 2, the country ratified the African Union convention on corruption
            > deterrence. Throughout much of the year, the corruption laws were rarely used.
            > However, the president made anticorruption efforts a major emphasis in the first
            > months following his investiture.
            >
            > New government initiatives reinforce laws regarding required reporting by
            > officials holding public office, obliging them to declare their wealth within
            > three months following appointment. The Commission Against Illegal Enrichment
            > may ask them to resign if they do not do so. During the year the government
            > instituted a National Day Against Corruption (December 9) and launched a media
            > campaign to raise public awareness of the issue. At year's end the commission
            > was carrying out 35 investigations, including 12 cases started during the year,
            > involving government officials.
            >
            > The anticorruption commission required civil servants to disclose their
            > financial assets before assuming office; however, this requirement was not
            > always followed in practice.
            >
            > The law does not provide for public access to government information, and the
            > government generally did not allow such access in practice.
            >
            > In October President Ali Bongo Ondimba recalled and ordered the arrest of
            > Philibert Andzembe, the governor of the Central Bank of Central African States,
            > on corruption charges. The government arrested two other officials on the same
            > corruption charges, although the charges against one were dropped. The other
            > accused individuals were under house arrest at year's end. President Ali Bongo
            > Ondimba's chief of staff resigned amid corruption charges associated with the
            > scandal.
            >
            > Section 5 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental
            > Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights
            >
            > Some local human rights NGOs and activists operated without government
            > restriction, investigating and publishing their findings. Government officials
            > took no known actions on their recommendations.
            >
            > There were no reports of the government restricting the work of international
            > human rights and humanitarian NGOs, and the government worked closely and
            > effectively with representatives of the UN, including the UN Children's Fund
            > (UNICEF) and the UNHCR.
            >
            > Local human rights NGOs included ALCR (combating ritual crime), Cri de Femmes
            > (women's rights), EBANDO (pygmy rights), AVOGAB (women's and orphan's rights),
            > Groupe Consience (promoting sex workers' rights), Reseau de Defense des Droits
            > Humains du Gabon (an association of human rights NGOs), and others. The
            > government did not hinder the work of these domestic NGOs or restrict their
            > right to voice their opinions.
            >
            > Section 6 Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons
            >
            > Although the constitution and law prohibit discrimination based on national
            > origin, race, gender, disability, language, or social status, the government did
            > not enforce these provisions consistently.
            >
            > Women
            >
            > Rape is against the law and carries a penalty of between five and 10 years'
            > imprisonment; however, rape cases were seldom prosecuted. Rape was widespread.
            > Only limited medical and legal assistance for rape victims was available. There
            > are no provisions in the law regarding spousal rape.
            >
            > The law prohibits domestic violence; however, it was believed to be common,
            > especially in rural areas. Penalties for domestic violence range from two months
            > to 15 years in prison. Police rarely intervened in such incidents, and women
            > virtually never filed complaints with civil authorities. The government operated
            > a counseling group to provide support for victims of abuse.
            >
            > Although it is illegal, female genital mutilation (FGM) was believed to occur
            > among the noncitizen Africans in the country; however, there were no specific
            > reports of such practices during the year.
            >
            > The law prohibits prostitution, and it was not a widespread problem. Penalties
            > for soliciting a prostitute include from six months to two years' imprisonment
            > and a fine of up to 1,068,221 CFA ($2,200). Penalties for prostitution include
            > jail for three months to one year and fines of up to 240,000 CFA ($530).
            >
            > There is no law that prohibits sexual harassment, and it was not a widespread
            > problem. The government and NGOs reported cases of female domestic workers
            > (often victims of child trafficking) who had been sexually molested by
            > employers.
            >
            > The government recognized the basic right of couples and individuals to decide
            > freely and responsibly the number, spacing, and timing of their children.
            >
            > During the year authorities repealed a parliamentary decree prohibiting the use
            > of contraceptives. However, access to contraceptives was a problem, and many
            > women had difficulty acquiring reliable contraceptives. Health clinics and local
            > health NGOs operated freely in disseminating information on the use of
            > contraceptives and family planning.
            >
            > The government guaranteed free childbirth services, but health statistics from
            > local NGOs, such as the Mouvement Gabonais Pour le Bien Etre Familial, showed a
            > high infant mortality rate of approximately 99 in 1,000 births. Maternal
            > mortality was also high, with 500 deaths in every 100,000 deliveries.
            >
            > Men and women received equal access to diagnosis and treatment for sexually
            > transmitted infections. Local health NGOs and clinics reported 10 of 100
            > patients on average tested positive for HIV/AIDS.
            >
            > The government offers limited access to social insurance to vulnerable or
            > impoverished citizens through the National Fund for Health Insurance.
            >
            > The law provides for equal rights and access for women in education, business,
            > investment, employment, credit, and pay for similar work; however, women
            > continued to face considerable societal and legal discrimination, especially in
            > rural areas. While poor women frequently suffered discrimination, women among
            > the educated urban population were treated more equally. Women owned businesses
            > and property, participated in politics, and worked throughout the government and
            > in the private sector.
            >
            > Regulation requires that a woman obtain her husband's permission to travel
            > abroad, although this regulation was very rarely enforced. Written authorization
            > by both parents is required for minor children to travel outside the country.
            >
            > Children
            >
            > Citizenship is conferred through one's parents and not by birth in the country.
            > At least one parent must be a citizen to transmit citizenship.
            >
            > Registration of all births is mandatory, but individuals frequently complained
            > of late or nonexistent registration. However, the great majority of births were
            > registered appropriately.
            >
            > In general the government showed a commitment to children's rights and welfare.
            > It publicly expressed its commitment to youth; provided 13,000 academic
            > scholarships during the year; and used oil revenues to build schools, pay
            > teacher salaries, and promote education, including in rural areas. However,
            > there were numerous reports of shortages of classrooms and teachers in public
            > schools. Education is compulsory until age 16 and was generally available
            > through sixth grade.
            >
            > There was some evidence of physical abuse of children. There were occasional
            > reports family members sexually abused girls who had passed puberty. When
            > reports of abuse surfaced, accused abusers were arrested and tried.
            >
            > Although it is illegal, FGM was believed to occur among the resident population
            > of noncitizen Africans. Ritual crimes targeting children occurred and usually
            > involved the amputation of limbs, genitals, or both. It is believed ritual
            > crimes are tied to traditional religious practices. The Ministry of Justice was
            > carrying out a study on ritual crimes, but in most cases ritual crimes were
            > treated as criminal killings.
            >
            > The age of consent and for marriage is 15 years of age for girls and 18 for
            > boys. Child marriage is rare. The statutory rape law states that 15 years is the
            > minimum legal age for a minor (of either sex)) and an adult to have sex.
            >
            > Children in the large community of noncitizen Africans continued to face serious
            > problems, including child trafficking and other abuses.
            >
            > According to the penal code, lewd pictures and photographs "against the morals
            > of society" are outlawed. This law is used against pornography of all kinds.
            > Punishment for the possession of pornography includes possible jail time from
            > six months to one year, fines up to 222,000 CFA ($460), or both.
            >
            > Trafficking in Persons
            >
            > The law prohibits trafficking in persons; however, there were reports that
            > persons, particularly women and children, were trafficked to the country.
            > Internal trafficking from rural to urban areas occurred but remained difficult
            > to quantify.
            >
            > The law specifically prohibits child trafficking. The law criminalizes all forms
            > of forced labor with penalties from one to six months and fines of 30,000 to
            > 60,000 CFA ($65 to $130). Traffickers can face conspiracy charges, with
            > penalties from six months to two years. No accurate statistics were available on
            > the number of trafficking victims in the country, although most trafficking
            > victims were from French-speaking West Africa (Cote d'Ivoire, Togo, Benin, and
            > Senegal) and Nigeria.
            >
            > The police and an interministerial committee composed of representatives from
            > the labor, justice, foreign affairs, and family ministries were responsible for
            > combating trafficking. The government also cooperated with UNICEF, the
            > International Labor Organization, and diplomatic missions in the country to
            > address trafficking.
            >
            > The country was a destination for child trafficking, with victims trafficked
            > primarily from Benin, Nigeria, Togo, Guinea, and Mali. Smaller numbers were
            > trafficked from Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso, and Cameroon, although children were
            > increasingly trafficked from other countries as well. Most arrived by boat and
            > were trafficked to Libreville or Port Gentil. Boys were trafficked primarily for
            > street hawking and forced labor in handicraft workshops, while girls were
            > primarily trafficked for domestic servitude, forced market vending, restaurant
            > labor, and commercial sexual exploitation. Nigerian children, in particular,
            > were trafficked to the country to work in the informal commercial sector as
            > mechanics. Trafficked children generally worked long hours, were subjected to
            > physical abuse, received inadequate food, and received no wages or schooling.
            >
            > The law provides for prison sentences for traffickers of five to 15 years'
            > imprisonment and fines from 10 million to 20 million CFA ($22,000 to $44,000).
            > However, the government's antitrafficking law enforcement efforts were mixed.
            > The government made significant efforts to comply with minimum standards for the
            > elimination of trafficking, including continuing its efforts to intercept and
            > assist victims; however, the government did not show progress in convicting
            > offenders. There were several arrests for trafficking offenses and, in some
            > cases, prolonged detention of suspects. However, prosecution was infrequent, and
            > the government did not report any trafficking convictions during the year. In
            > November President Bongo Ondimba named a new head to the antitrafficking in
            > persons court. Authorities required some suspected traffickers to pay the cost
            > of repatriating trafficked victims to their countries of origin; however, the
            > consequent absence of victims made successful prosecution of traffickers more
            > difficult. The government assisted in cross-border trafficking prosecutions. The
            > country is a member of the Economic Community of Central Africa's multilateral
            > Cooperation Agreement to Combat Trafficking of Persons in West and Central
            > Africa.
            >
            > Government agencies, in cooperation with UNICEF, provided care for trafficking
            > victims, in some cases through NGOs. The rights of labor trafficking victims
            > were generally respected. Welcome centers were established for adult victims of
            > trafficking; victims were no longer housed in jails.
            >
            > UNICEF and the government sponsored a toll-free 24-hour assistance hotline for
            > child trafficking victims, which arranged free transport to a victims' shelter.
            > A government-funded reception center offered protection and assistance for
            > trafficking victims, including food, education, medical care, and repatriation
            > assistance. A second center, run by Carmelite nuns, provided similar services
            > for older girls and young women.
            >
            > The Department of State's annual Trafficking in Persons Report can be found at
            > www.state.gov/g/tip.
            >
            > Persons with Disabilities
            >
            > There are no laws prohibiting discrimination against persons with disabilities
            > or providing for access to buildings or services; however, there were no reports
            > of official discrimination against persons with disabilities. There was some
            > societal discrimination against persons with disabilities, and employment
            > opportunities and treatment facilities were limited.
            >
            > Indigenous People
            >
            > Pygmies are the earliest known inhabitants of the country. Small numbers of
            > Pygmies continue to live in large tracts of rainforest in the northeast. Most
            > Pygmies, however, were relocated to communities along the major roads during the
            > late colonial and early postindependence period. The law grants them the same
            > civil rights as other citizens, but Pygmies remained largely outside of formal
            > authority, keeping their own traditions, independent communities, and local
            > decision-making structures. Pygmies suffered societal discrimination, often
            > lived in extreme poverty, and did not have easy access to public services. Their
            > Bantu neighbors often exploited their labor by paying them much less than the
            > minimum wage. Despite their equal status under the law, Pygmies generally
            > believed they had little recourse if mistreated by Bantu. There were no specific
            > government programs or policies to assist Pygmies.
            >
            > Societal Abuses, Discrimination, and Acts of Violence Based on Sexual
            > Orientation and Gender Identity
            >
            > There is no law criminalizing homosexual or transgender activity. Discrimination
            > and violence occasioned by homosexual and transgender conduct was not a problem.
            >
            > Other Societal Violence or Discrimination
            >
            > There was considerable discrimination against persons with HIV/AIDS. Local NGOs
            > worked closely with the Minister of Health to combat both the associated stigma
            > and the spread of the disease.
            >
            > Section 7 Worker Rights
            >
            > a. The Right of Association
            >
            > The law places no restrictions on the right of association and recognizes the
            > right of citizens to form and join trade and labor unions; workers exercised
            > these rights in practice. The small private-sector industrial workforce was
            > generally unionized. Unions must register with the government to be recognized
            > officially, and registration was granted routinely.
            >
            > According to the Ministry of Labor, there were more than 136 unions. The
            > ministry estimated there were 40,000 union members in total--10,000 in the
            > public sector and 30,000 in the private sector.
            >
            > The law provides workers the right to strike; however, they may do so only after
            > giving eight days' advance notification and only after arbitration fails. Public
            > sector employees' right to strike is limited if a strike could jeopardize public
            > safety. The law prohibits government action against individual strikers that
            > abide by the notification and arbitration provisions.
            >
            > b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively
            >
            > The law allows unions to conduct their activities without government
            > interference, and the government protected this right. The law provides for
            > collective bargaining by industry, not by firm. Collectively bargained
            > agreements set wages for entire industries. Labor and management met to
            > negotiate differences, with observers from the Ministry of Labor. Agreements
            > negotiated by unions also applied to nonunion workers.
            >
            > Discrimination on the basis of union membership is illegal. Employers who are
            > found guilty by civil courts of having engaged in such discrimination may be
            > required to compensate employees. Trade unions in both the public and private
            > sectors often faced discrimination. Their demands or requests for negotiations
            > were sometimes ignored or denied. Workers did not face termination due to trade
            > union activity.
            >
            > There are no export processing zones.
            >
            > c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor
            >
            > The law prohibits forced or compulsory labor, including by children; however,
            > there were unconfirmed reports that such practices occurred. Forced child labor
            > occurred but was not a systemic problem. Boys were forced to work in local
            > handicraft workshops; girls were primarily trafficked for forced domestic
            > servitude, market vending, restaurant labor, and commercial sexual exploitation.
            >
            > d. Prohibition of Child Labor and Minimum Age for Employment
            >
            > Although children below the age of 16 may not legally work without the express
            > consent of the Ministries of Labor, Education, and Public Health, in practice
            > child labor was a serious problem. According to the law, fines between 290,000
            > CFA to 480,000 CFA ($640 to $1,060) and prison sentences are appropriate
            > punishments for violations of the minimum age for work. The ministries
            > rigorously enforced this law in urban areas with respect to citizen children,
            > and few citizens under the age of 18 years old worked in the formal wage sector;
            > however, child labor occurred in rural areas, where the law was seldom enforced.
            > Child prostitution occurred in the country.
            >
            > An unknown number of children, primarily noncitizens, worked in marketplaces or
            > performed domestic work; many of these children were reportedly victims of child
            > trafficking. Such children generally did not attend school, received only
            > limited medical attention, and were often exploited by employers or foster
            > families. Laws forbidding child labor covered these children, but abuses often
            > were not reported.
            >
            > The constitution and labor code protect children against exploitation. The
            > Ministry of Justice is responsible for implementing and enforcing child labor
            > laws and regulations. Inspectors from the Ministry of Labor are responsible for
            > receiving, investigating, and addressing child labor complaints. However,
            > violations were not systematically addressed because the inspection force was
            > inadequate, and complaints were routinely not investigated. The government
            > viewed child labor and child trafficking as closely linked. Many victims of
            > trafficking were children brought to the country and forced to work. Domestic
            > servitude was a sector with an unusually high number of child laborers
            > trafficked into the country. The government took no notable action to combat
            > child labor.
            >
            > e. Acceptable Conditions of Work
            >
            > The national monthly minimum wage is 80,000 CFA ($172); government workers
            > received an additional monthly allowance of 20,000 CFA ($43) per child.
            > Government workers also received transportation, housing, and family benefits.
            > The law does not mandate housing or family benefits for private sector workers.
            > The minimum wage did not provide a decent standard of living for a worker and
            > family. The Ministry of Labor was responsible for enforcing the minimum wage
            > standards and, in general, it did so effectively.
            >
            > The labor code governs working conditions and benefits for all formal sectors
            > and provides a broad range of protection to workers; however, the government
            > sometimes did not respect these protections. According to the law,
            > representatives of labor, management, and the government are required to meet
            > annually to examine economic and labor conditions and to recommend a minimum
            > wage rate to the president, who then issues an annual decree. This procedure has
            > not been followed since 1994, partly because the government has been following a
            > policy of wage austerity recommended by international financial institutions.
            > There are various minimum wage rates depending on occupation or industry, but
            > they have not been changed since 1994. There is no minimum wage applied to the
            > informal sector.
            >
            > The labor code stipulates a 40-hour workweek with a minimum rest period of 48
            > consecutive hours. Employers must compensate workers for overtime work.
            >
            > According to the labor code and related decrees, the daily limit can be extended
            > to perform specified preparatory or complementary work, including work necessary
            > to start machines in a factory; supervisors whose presence at the workplace is
            > indispensable may also have hours extended. The additional time ranges from 30
            > minutes to two hours, depending on the type of work.
            >
            > The daily limit does not apply to establishments in which work is performed on a
            > continuous basis and those providing services that cannot be subject to a daily
            > limit, including retail, transport, dock work, hotels and catering,
            > housekeeping, guard services, other security, medical establishments, domestic
            > work, and the press.
            >
            > The daily limit can be extended for urgent work to prevent or respond to
            > accidents. The additional hours are without limit on the first day and two hours
            > on following days. The general limit for overtime is 20 hours per week.
            >
            > Overtime compensation varies, since it is determined by collective agreements or
            > government regulations.
            >
            > Companies in the formal sector generally paid competitive wages and granted the
            > fringe benefits required by law, including maternity leave and six weeks of
            > annual paid vacation.
            >
            > The Ministry of Health established occupational health and safety standards but
            > did not enforce or regulate them. The application of labor standards varied from
            > company to company and between industries. In the formal sector, workers may
            > remove themselves from dangerous work situations without fear of retribution.
            >
            > The government reportedly did not enforce labor code provisions in sectors where
            > the majority of the labor force was foreign. Foreign workers, both documented
            > and undocumented, were obliged to work under substandard conditions; were
            > dismissed without notice or recourse; or, especially in the case of illegal
            > immigrants, were mistreated physically. Employers frequently paid noncitizens
            > less and required them to work longer hours, often hiring them on a short term,
            > casual basis to avoid paying taxes, social security contributions, and other
            > benefits.
            >
            >
            >
            >
            >
            > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            >
          • Brad Hodges
            Rage Against the Machine en ont dit long...il y a longtemps... ________________________________ From: bobutne To:
            Message 5 of 10 , Jan 29, 2011
              Rage Against the Machine en ont dit long...il y a longtemps...





              ________________________________
              From: bobutne <bobutne@...>
              To: gabondiscussion@yahoogroups.com
              Sent: Sat, January 29, 2011 12:26:56 PM
              Subject: [Gabon Discussion] Re: why a revolution is needed in Gabon?


              If Gabon needs a revolution, the same could be said for approximately 80% of the
              rest of the world that has one-party systems.


              --- In gabondiscussion@yahoogroups.com, landry lig <landry_lig@...> wrote:
              >
              > 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
              >
              > March 11, 2010
              >
              > Gabon is a republic dominated by a strong presidency and the Democratic Party
              >of
              >
              > Gabon (PDG), which has held power since 1968. The population is approximately
              > 1.4 million. Former president Omar Bongo Ondimba, who ruled the country for 41

              > years, died on June 8. His son, PDG leader Ali Bongo Ondimba, was elected to a

              > seven-year term on August 30 and inaugurated on October 16. Irregularities
              > marred the election process. The PDG dominated the political arena and
              > controlled two-thirds of the seats in the National Assembly. Security forces
              > including the military answer to civilian authorities and, with few exceptions,
              >
              > civilian oversight of the security forces was effective.
              >
              > The country's human rights record remained poor. The following human rights
              > problems were reported: arbitrary killings by security forces and ritualistic
              > killings; use of excessive force, including torture of prisoners and detainees;
              >
              > harsh prison conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention; an inefficient
              > judiciary susceptible to government influence; restrictions on the right to
              > privacy; restrictions on freedom of speech, press, association, and movement;
              > harassment of refugees; widespread government corruption; violence and societal
              >
              > discrimination against women, persons with HIV/AIDS, and noncitizen Africans;
              > and trafficking in persons, particularly children.
              >
              > RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
              >
              > Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom From:
              >
              > a. Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life
              >
              > There were unconfirmed reports the government and its forces committed unlawful
              >
              > killings. Most of these reports came in the weeks following the presidential
              > election. The government claimed three persons died in Port Gentil during
              > postelection riots. The newspaper l'Union stated that at least six persons
              >died.
              >
              > Opposition reports claimed much higher numbers killed by government security
              > forces suppressing the unrest.
              >
              > Ritualistic killings occurred and generally went unpunished. For example, in
              > June a six-year-old girl was found mutilated in the neighborhood of Petit Paris
              >
              > in Libreville. Two mutilated bodies were found on the beach of Libreville: a
              > 10-year-old girl who was found in March whose clitoris and breasts had been
              > removed, and a 37-year-old man who was found mutilated in October. Authorities

              > condemned the killings but arrested no one for the crimes.
              >
              > The Association to Fight Ritual Crimes (ALCR), a local nongovernmental
              > organization (NGO) dedicated to combating ritual crimes, reported 11 persons
              > positively identified as victims of ritual crimes, including the examples noted
              >
              > above. Another eight cases were likely but unconfirmed. The ALCR estimated at
              > least double that figure of ritual crimes occurred in the country but were not

              > reported or were incorrectly identified.
              >
              > b. Disappearance
              >
              > There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances.
              >
              > c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
              >
              > Although the constitution and law prohibit such practices, credible reports
              > persisted of security forces beating prisoners and detainees to extract
              > confessions.
              >
              > Unconfirmed reports from the African immigrant community asserted that police
              > and soldiers occasionally beat noncitizen Africans during operations to
              >identify
              >
              > and deport illegal immigrants. Refugees continued to complain of harassment and
              >
              > extortion by security forces.
              >
              > There were isolated reports that practitioners of certain indigenous religions

              > inflicted bodily harm and sometimes killed other persons.
              >
              > Prison and Detention Center Conditions
              >
              > Prisons were overcrowded, and conditions were harsh. Food, sanitation, and
              > ventilation were poor, but basic medical care was provided. NGOs and private
              > citizens occasionally made contributions to augment prisoners' poor food
              > rations. During the year juveniles were held in their own facilities, and
              > pretrial detainees were held with convicted prisoners.
              >
              > There were no known visits by human rights monitors to prisons; however, there

              > also were no reports that the government impeded such visits.
              >
              > d. Arbitrary Arrest or Detention
              >
              > The constitution and law prohibit arbitrary arrest and detention, but the
              > government did not always observe these prohibitions.
              >
              > In Port Gentil, in the days following the presidential election, there were
              > numerous reports of extrajudicial incarcerations and detentions.
              >
              > Role of the Police and Security Apparatus
              >
              > The national police, under the Ministry of Interior, and the gendarmerie, under
              >
              > the Ministry of Defense, were responsible for law enforcement and public
              > security; the gendarmerie was also responsible for operating checkpoints.
              > Elements of the armed forces and the Republican Guard, an elite unit that
              > protects the president, sometimes performed internal security functions. The
              > police were inefficient, and corruption was a serious problem. Security forces

              > often sought bribes at checkpoints to supplement their salaries. The Inspector

              > General's Office was responsible for investigating police abuse; however,
              > impunity was a problem.
              >
              > Arrest Procedures and Treatment While in Detention
              >
              > The law requires arrest warrants based on sufficient evidence and issued by a
              > duly authorized official; however, security forces frequently disregarded this

              > provision. The law allows authorities to initially detain a suspect up to 48
              > hours without charge, but police often failed to respect this time limit.
              > Detainees usually were promptly informed of charges against them; however,
              > authorities often did not file charges expeditiously and they detained persons

              > arbitrarily, sometimes for long periods. There is a functioning bail system,
              >and
              >
              > conditional release was possible after charges had been announced if further
              > investigation was required. Detainees were allowed prompt access to family
              > members and to their lawyer or, if indigent, to one provided by the state.
              >
              > Members of the security forces continued to detain individuals at roadblocks
              > under the guise of checking vehicle registration and identity papers. Security

              > forces frequently used such operations to extort money.
              >
              > Pretrial detention, limited to six months for a misdemeanor and one year for a

              > felony charge, may be extended for six months by the examining magistrate.
              > Pretrial detainees have the right of free access to their attorneys, and this
              > right was generally respected. Detainees have the right to an expeditious
              >trial,
              >
              > but overburdened dockets resulted in prolonged pretrial detention.
              >
              > e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
              >
              > Although the law provides for an independent judiciary, the judiciary was
              > inefficient and remained susceptible to government influence. The president
              > appoints and can dismiss judges through the Ministry of Justice, to which the
              > judiciary is accountable. Corruption was a problem.
              >
              > The judicial system includes regular courts, a military tribunal, and a
              >civilian
              >
              > High Court of Justice. The regular court system includes trial courts,
              >appellate
              >
              > courts, and the Supreme Court. The Constitutional Court is a separate body
              > charged with examining constitutional questions, including the certification of
              >
              > elections. The Constitutional Court upheld and reaffirmed that the process
              >for
              >
              > succession following president Omar Bongo's death was constitutional. In
              > addition the court determined the succession of the interim president and the
              > extension of the 45-day period to select a new president were constitutional,
              > and it considered and ruled on formal complaints regarding the conduct of the
              > election.
              >
              > The High Court of Justice is a nonpermanent special body composed of
              > professional magistrates. It is constituted by the government as required to
              > consider matters of security.
              >
              > The military court is appointed each year by the Office of the Presidency and
              >is
              >
              > composed of selected magistrates and military personnel. The court provides the
              >
              > same basic legal rights as a civilian court.
              >
              > Minor disputes may be taken to a local chief, particularly in rural areas, but

              > the government did not always recognize their decisions.
              >
              > Trial Procedures
              >
              > The constitution provides the right to a public trial and to legal counsel, and
              >
              > the government generally respected these rights. Defendants are presumed
              > innocent. Nevertheless, a judge may deliver an immediate verdict of guilty at
              > the initial hearing in a state security trial, if the government presents
              > sufficient evidence. Defendants have the right to be present, have access to a

              > lawyer--if indigent, to one provided by the state--confront witnesses against
              > them, present witnesses or evidence on their own behalf, have access to
              > government-held evidence against them through their lawyer, and to appeal. The

              > government generally respected these rights. These rights extend to all
              > citizens.
              >
              > A criminal tribunal is composed of one judge, two deputy judges, and two
              >jurors.
              >
              > Political Prisoners and Detainees
              >
              > Politically motivated arrests were usually rare; however, following the
              > presidential election, numerous credible reports of politically motivated
              > detentions and arrests became public.
              >
              > International NGOs have not requested formal visits or reviews of political
              > prisoners in the last three years, but they are in principle allowed access.
              >
              > Civil Judicial Procedures and Remedies
              >
              > There was an independent civil judiciary, but it was susceptible to government

              > influence and corruption. Corruption was also a problem in the enforcement of
              > domestic court orders. Administrative remedies were not generally available.
              >
              > f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence
              >
              > The constitution and law prohibit such actions; however, the government did not
              >
              > respect these prohibitions in practice. As part of criminal investigations,
              > police requested and easily obtained search warrants from judges, sometimes
              > after the fact.
              >
              > Security forces conducted warrantless searches for illegal immigrants and
              > criminals, using street stops and identity checks.
              >
              > Authorities reportedly routinely monitored private telephone conversations,
              > personal mail, and the movement of citizens.
              >
              > On September 2, the Telecommunications Regulation Agency suspended telephone
              > texting after well-known figures (and journalists) reported receiving telephone
              >
              > text messages containing death threats. Texting was again suspended with no
              > explanation on October 13 in advance of the inauguration of Ali Bongo Ondimba
              >on
              >
              > October 15. Authorities restored telephone texting on November 10.
              >
              > Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
              >
              > a. Freedom of Speech and Press
              >
              > The constitution and law provide for freedom of speech and of the press;
              > however, the government generally did not respect these rights in practice.
              >Many
              >
              > citizens hesitated to criticize the government for fear of losing their jobs.
              > Local journalists generally practiced self-censorship due to harassment by the

              > government. In one case in August, a political cartoonist was detained and
              > questioned for two days because he drew a series of cartoons lampooning the
              >PDG.
              >
              > The few opposition legislators in the National Assembly openly criticized the
              > government, but virtually no citizen, journalist, or politician directly
              > criticized former president Omar Bongo. After the death of president Bongo,
              > however, the media engaged in a more open debate concerning the country's
              >future
              >
              > and the presidential election.
              >
              > On September 1, five masked gunmen destroyed the transmitter of satellite
              > television station Go Africa with automatic gunfire. At the time Go Africa was

              > cobroadcasting for a station owned by independent presidential candidate André

              > Mba Obame. Mba Obame's television station, TVPlus, had its broadcast cut off by
              >
              > authorities on election day on the grounds it misused archival images in a
              > program about former president Omar Bongo Ondimba.
              >
              > In September opposition supporters assaulted Patrick Bibang, a reporter at
              >Radio
              >
              > Africa No.1, as he was trying to make his way through a large opposition
              > demonstration.
              >
              > On September 25, Albert Yangari, chief editor of l'Union, was detained and held
              >
              > for questioning for several hours in connection with postelection reporting on

              > violence in Port Gentil.
              >
              > On September 29, authorities arrested and detained political cartoonist Pahe
              >for
              >
              > three days for allegedly disparaging the country's military in a cartoon.
              >
              > On September 3, employees of Radio-Television Nazareth were attacked outside
              >the
              >
              > entrance of the national electoral commission in Libreville by opposition
              > supporters reacting to the announcement of Ali Bongo Ondimba's election
              >victory.
              >
              > The only daily newspaper was the government-affiliated l'Union. Approximately
              > nine privately owned weekly or monthly newspapers represented independent views
              >
              > and those of various political parties, but most appeared irregularly due to
              > financial constraints or, in some cases, government suspension of their
              > publication licenses. All newspapers, including l'Union, criticized the
              > government and political leaders of all parties, but not the office of the
              > president. Following the death of Omar Bongo Ondimba, privately owned
              >newspapers
              >
              > appeared more regularly.
              >
              > Foreign newspapers and magazines were widely available.
              >
              > The government owned and operated two radio stations that broadcast throughout

              > the country. Much of their news coverage concerned the activities of government
              >
              > officials, although editorials sometimes criticized specific government
              >policies
              >
              > or ministers. Seven privately owned radio stations were operating at year's
              >end.
              >
              > International radio stations broadcast locally.
              >
              > The government owned and operated two television stations. Four privately owned
              >
              > television stations transmitted 24 hours a day. Satellite television reception

              > was available.
              >
              > Libel can be either a criminal offense or a civil matter. The law authorizes
              >the
              >
              > government to initiate criminal libel prosecution against persons for libeling

              > elected government officials; it also authorizes the state to criminalize civil
              >
              > libel suits.
              >
              > The law stipulates penalties for libel and other offenses to include a one- to

              > three-month publishing suspension for a first offense and a three- to six-month
              >
              > suspension for repeat offenses. Editors and authors of libelous articles can be
              >
              > jailed for two to six months and fined 500,000 to five million CFA francs
              > ($1,100 to $11,000).
              >
              > Internet Freedom
              >
              > There were no government restrictions on access to the Internet or reports the

              > government monitored e-mail or Internet chat rooms. Individuals and groups
              >could
              >
              > engage in the peaceful expression of views via the Internet, including by
              > e-mail. According to International Telecommunication Union statistics for 2008,
              >
              > approximately 6.2 percent of the population used the Internet.
              >
              > Academic Freedom and Cultural Events
              >
              > There were no government restrictions on academic freedom or cultural events.
              >
              > b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association
              >
              > The constitution and law provide for freedom of assembly and association, and
              > the government generally respected these rights in practice prior to president

              > Omar Bongo's death. In the period following his death, the presence of security
              >
              > forces became common in numerous well-trafficked areas of Libreville. The
              > government dissuaded large opposition groups from assembling by not approving
              > official requests to demonstrate and by maintaining a large security presence
              > throughout urban areas.
              >
              > On August 7, an estimated 1,000 demonstrators led by opposition leaders clashed
              >
              > with police at a rally calling for then-defense minister Ali Bongo Ondimba to
              > resign. The opposition leaders argued Bongo Ondimba should step down from the
              > government because he could use his position to advance his own presidential
              > campaign. The presidential candidates attending the demonstration did so
              >despite
              >
              > not having official approval to demonstrate.
              >
              > Opposition candidates were allowed to hold rallies during the two-week official
              >
              > election period without interference.
              >
              > c. Freedom of Religion
              >
              > The constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the government generally
              >
              > respected this right.
              >
              > In practice the government allowed members of religious groups to assemble,
              > practice their religion, and proselytize.
              >
              > In recent years some Protestant Christian denominations have alleged government
              >
              > television stations accorded free broadcast time to the Catholic Church but not
              >
              > to minority religious groups. Some critics alleged the armed forces favored
              > Roman Catholics and Muslims in hiring and promotion.
              >
              > Societal Abuses and Discrimination
              >
              > There was no significant Jewish community, and there were no reports of
              > anti-Semitic acts.
              >
              > For a more detailed discussion, see the 2009 International Religious Freedom
              > Report at www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf.
              >
              > d. Freedom of Movement, Internally Displaced Persons, Protection of Refugees,
              > and Stateless Persons
              >
              > Although the constitution and law provide for freedom of movement within the
              > country, foreign travel, emigration, and repatriation, the government
              >frequently
              >
              > restricted these rights in practice.
              >
              > The government granted refugee status or asylum and cooperated with the Office

              > of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other humanitarian
              > organizations in assisting refugees and asylum seekers.
              >
              > There were no legally mandated restrictions on internal movement, but the
              > military, police, and gendarmes continued to stop travelers frequently to check
              >
              > identity, residence, and registration documents, or to demand bribes. Members
              >of
              >
              > the security forces harassed expatriate Africans working legally as merchants,

              > service sector employees, and manual laborers. Some members of the security
              > forces extorted bribes with threats of confiscation of residency documents or
              > imprisonment. Residency permits cost 150,000 CFA francs ($340) per year, and
              > first-time applicants were required to provide the cost of a one-way air ticket
              >
              > to their country of origin. In principle, but usually not in practice, the
              > government refunded the cost of the air ticket when the individual departed the
              >
              > country permanently.
              >
              > During September, after the riots in Port-Gentil, all opposition candidates
              >were
              >
              > forbidden by the minister of interior to leave the country. The leader of the
              > Rally for Gabon party, Paul Mba Abessole, was directly prevented from traveling
              >
              > to Cote d'Ivoire on September 8. Other opposition leaders cancelled plans to
              > leave the country following the government's prohibiting Mba Abessole from
              > traveling. However, four days after the announced ban on travel by opposition
              > candidates, former presidential candidate Bruno Ben Moubamba left the country
              > without obstruction.
              >
              > The law prohibits forced exile, and the government did not use it.
              >
              > Protection of Refugees
              >
              > The law provides for the granting of asylum or refugee status in accordance
              >with
              >
              > the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol,
              > and the government has established a system for providing protection to
              > refugees. During the post-Omar Bongo Ondimba period, security forces commonly
              > set up roadblocks and checkpoints where vehicles were searched. In practice the
              >
              > government provided protection against the expulsion or return of refugees to
              > countries where their lives or freedom would be threatened on account of their

              > race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or
              > political opinion. However, refugees complained about widespread harassment,
              > extortion, and detention by security forces.
              >
              > To reduce mistreatment of refugees, the government started replacing
              > UNHCR-issued identity cards with government-issued ones. Steady progress
              > continued on card issuance. Approximately 50 percent of refugees in the country
              >
              > who qualified had been issued new cards by the end of the year; an estimated
              > 3,000 remained to be issued. This program, in conjunction with a UNHCR-led
              > information campaign, helped reduce discrimination against refugees.
              >
              > Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their
              > Government
              >
              > The constitution and law provide citizens the right to change their government

              > peacefully, and citizens partially exercised this right in practice through
              > periodic and generally fair elections.
              >
              > Elections and Political Participation
              >
              > On August 30, the presidential election was held. This was the first election
              >in
              >
              > 41 years in which former president Omar Bongo Ondimba was not a candidate. The

              > election ballots listed 19 candidates. The election was marred by
              > irregularities. The announced election results, which indicated Ali Bongo
              > Ondimba had won the election with 41 percent of the vote, were contested in the
              >
              > Constitutional Court by numerous opposition candidates. Announced results
              > indicated the two leading opposition candidates each received approximately 25

              > percent of the vote. There were numerous irregularities regarding voting lists,
              >
              > voter registration, late opening polls, improperly secured ballot boxes, and
              > armed security personnel present in or near voting sites. On October 12, the
              > Constitutional Court rejected a few hundred votes and validated Ali Bongo
              > Ondimba's victory.
              >
              > In April 2008 local elections were held under the previous administration to
              > fill 1,190 municipal and departmental seats throughout the country. The ruling

              > PDG won overwhelmingly, taking 96 percent of the seats. The independent
              > electoral commission reported that only 25 to 30 percent of voters participated
              >
              > in the election, and independent observers estimated that the actual abstention
              >
              > rate was likely even higher. Polls did not open or close on time at several
              > polling places, and elections in a handful of constituencies had to be
              > rescheduled because of logistical and other problems. Approximately 70
              > candidates brought electoral challenges before the Constitutional Court
              > following the elections, and the court reviewed and ruled on all of the
              > contested seats by year's end.
              >
              > The government is dominated by a strong presidency. When the legislature is not
              >
              > in session, the president can veto legislation, dissolve the national
              > legislature, call new elections, and issue decrees that have the force of law.

              > The legislature generally approved legislation presented to it by the
              >president.
              >
              > The president appoints ministers of government and heads of parastatal
              > companies.
              >
              > A single party, the PDG, has remained in power since its creation by former
              > president Omar Bongo Ondimba in 1968.
              >
              > Women participated freely in the political process. Women held governmental
              > positions from the ministerial level down and in all branches of government.
              > Voting and political activism by women was common, and female voter numbers
              >were
              >
              > increasing. There were six women in President Ali Bongo Ondimba's cabinet.
              >
              > Members of all major ethnic groups continued to occupy prominent government
              > positions; however, members of the president's Bateke ethnic group and other
              > southerners held a disproportionately large number of key positions in the
              > security forces.
              >
              > Indigenous Pygmies rarely participated in the political process.
              >
              > Section 4 Official Corruption and Government Transparency
              >
              > Official corruption was widespread, and there was extensive media coverage of
              > police abuses, particularly at checkpoints.
              > The most recent World Bank Worldwide Governance Indicators reflected that
              > corruption was a severe problem.
              >
              > The law makes official corruption an offense punishable under the law with
              >fines
              >
              > and possible incarceration. The Commission Against Illegal Enrichment is the
              > primary body responsible for combating official corruption.
              >
              > On March 2, the country ratified the African Union convention on corruption
              > deterrence. Throughout much of the year, the corruption laws were rarely used.

              > However, the president made anticorruption efforts a major emphasis in the
              >first
              >
              > months following his investiture.
              >
              > New government initiatives reinforce laws regarding required reporting by
              > officials holding public office, obliging them to declare their wealth within
              > three months following appointment. The Commission Against Illegal Enrichment
              > may ask them to resign if they do not do so. During the year the government
              > instituted a National Day Against Corruption (December 9) and launched a media

              > campaign to raise public awareness of the issue. At year's end the commission
              > was carrying out 35 investigations, including 12 cases started during the year,
              >
              > involving government officials.
              >
              > The anticorruption commission required civil servants to disclose their
              > financial assets before assuming office; however, this requirement was not
              > always followed in practice.
              >
              > The law does not provide for public access to government information, and the
              > government generally did not allow such access in practice.
              >
              > In October President Ali Bongo Ondimba recalled and ordered the arrest of
              > Philibert Andzembe, the governor of the Central Bank of Central African States,
              >
              > on corruption charges. The government arrested two other officials on the same

              > corruption charges, although the charges against one were dropped. The other
              > accused individuals were under house arrest at year's end. President Ali Bongo

              > Ondimba's chief of staff resigned amid corruption charges associated with the
              > scandal.
              >
              > Section 5 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental
              > Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights
              >
              > Some local human rights NGOs and activists operated without government
              > restriction, investigating and publishing their findings. Government officials

              > took no known actions on their recommendations.
              >
              > There were no reports of the government restricting the work of international
              > human rights and humanitarian NGOs, and the government worked closely and
              > effectively with representatives of the UN, including the UN Children's Fund
              > (UNICEF) and the UNHCR.
              >
              > Local human rights NGOs included ALCR (combating ritual crime), Cri de Femmes
              > (women's rights), EBANDO (pygmy rights), AVOGAB (women's and orphan's rights),

              > Groupe Consience (promoting sex workers' rights), Reseau de Defense des Droits

              > Humains du Gabon (an association of human rights NGOs), and others. The
              > government did not hinder the work of these domestic NGOs or restrict their
              > right to voice their opinions.
              >
              > Section 6 Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons
              >
              > Although the constitution and law prohibit discrimination based on national
              > origin, race, gender, disability, language, or social status, the government
              >did
              >
              > not enforce these provisions consistently.
              >
              > Women
              >
              > Rape is against the law and carries a penalty of between five and 10 years'
              > imprisonment; however, rape cases were seldom prosecuted. Rape was widespread.

              > Only limited medical and legal assistance for rape victims was available. There
              >
              > are no provisions in the law regarding spousal rape.
              >
              > The law prohibits domestic violence; however, it was believed to be common,
              > especially in rural areas. Penalties for domestic violence range from two
              >months
              >
              > to 15 years in prison. Police rarely intervened in such incidents, and women
              > virtually never filed complaints with civil authorities. The government
              >operated
              >
              > a counseling group to provide support for victims of abuse.
              >
              > Although it is illegal, female genital mutilation (FGM) was believed to occur
              > among the noncitizen Africans in the country; however, there were no specific
              > reports of such practices during the year.
              >
              > The law prohibits prostitution, and it was not a widespread problem. Penalties

              > for soliciting a prostitute include from six months to two years' imprisonment

              > and a fine of up to 1,068,221 CFA ($2,200). Penalties for prostitution include

              > jail for three months to one year and fines of up to 240,000 CFA ($530).
              >
              > There is no law that prohibits sexual harassment, and it was not a widespread
              > problem. The government and NGOs reported cases of female domestic workers
              > (often victims of child trafficking) who had been sexually molested by
              > employers.
              >
              > The government recognized the basic right of couples and individuals to decide

              > freely and responsibly the number, spacing, and timing of their children.
              >
              > During the year authorities repealed a parliamentary decree prohibiting the use
              >
              > of contraceptives. However, access to contraceptives was a problem, and many
              > women had difficulty acquiring reliable contraceptives. Health clinics and
              >local
              >
              > health NGOs operated freely in disseminating information on the use of
              > contraceptives and family planning.
              >
              > The government guaranteed free childbirth services, but health statistics from

              > local NGOs, such as the Mouvement Gabonais Pour le Bien Etre Familial, showed a
              >
              > high infant mortality rate of approximately 99 in 1,000 births. Maternal
              > mortality was also high, with 500 deaths in every 100,000 deliveries.
              >
              > Men and women received equal access to diagnosis and treatment for sexually
              > transmitted infections. Local health NGOs and clinics reported 10 of 100
              > patients on average tested positive for HIV/AIDS.
              >
              > The government offers limited access to social insurance to vulnerable or
              > impoverished citizens through the National Fund for Health Insurance.
              >
              > The law provides for equal rights and access for women in education, business,

              > investment, employment, credit, and pay for similar work; however, women
              > continued to face considerable societal and legal discrimination, especially in
              >
              > rural areas. While poor women frequently suffered discrimination, women among
              > the educated urban population were treated more equally. Women owned businesses
              >
              > and property, participated in politics, and worked throughout the government
              >and
              >
              > in the private sector.
              >
              > Regulation requires that a woman obtain her husband's permission to travel
              > abroad, although this regulation was very rarely enforced. Written
              >authorization
              >
              > by both parents is required for minor children to travel outside the country.
              >
              > Children
              >
              > Citizenship is conferred through one's parents and not by birth in the country.
              >
              > At least one parent must be a citizen to transmit citizenship.
              >
              > Registration of all births is mandatory, but individuals frequently complained

              > of late or nonexistent registration. However, the great majority of births were
              >
              > registered appropriately.
              >
              > In general the government showed a commitment to children's rights and welfare.
              >
              > It publicly expressed its commitment to youth; provided 13,000 academic
              > scholarships during the year; and used oil revenues to build schools, pay
              > teacher salaries, and promote education, including in rural areas. However,
              > there were numerous reports of shortages of classrooms and teachers in public
              > schools. Education is compulsory until age 16 and was generally available
              > through sixth grade.
              >
              > There was some evidence of physical abuse of children. There were occasional
              > reports family members sexually abused girls who had passed puberty. When
              > reports of abuse surfaced, accused abusers were arrested and tried.
              >
              > Although it is illegal, FGM was believed to occur among the resident population
              >
              > of noncitizen Africans. Ritual crimes targeting children occurred and usually
              > involved the amputation of limbs, genitals, or both. It is believed ritual
              > crimes are tied to traditional religious practices. The Ministry of Justice was
              >
              > carrying out a study on ritual crimes, but in most cases ritual crimes were
              > treated as criminal killings.
              >
              > The age of consent and for marriage is 15 years of age for girls and 18 for
              > boys. Child marriage is rare. The statutory rape law states that 15 years is
              >the
              >
              > minimum legal age for a minor (of either sex)) and an adult to have sex.
              >
              > Children in the large community of noncitizen Africans continued to face
              >serious
              >
              > problems, including child trafficking and other abuses.
              >
              > According to the penal code, lewd pictures and photographs "against the morals

              > of society" are outlawed. This law is used against pornography of all kinds.
              > Punishment for the possession of pornography includes possible jail time from
              > six months to one year, fines up to 222,000 CFA ($460), or both.
              >
              > Trafficking in Persons
              >
              > The law prohibits trafficking in persons; however, there were reports that
              > persons, particularly women and children, were trafficked to the country.
              > Internal trafficking from rural to urban areas occurred but remained difficult

              > to quantify.
              >
              > The law specifically prohibits child trafficking. The law criminalizes all
              >forms
              >
              > of forced labor with penalties from one to six months and fines of 30,000 to
              > 60,000 CFA ($65 to $130). Traffickers can face conspiracy charges, with
              > penalties from six months to two years. No accurate statistics were available
              >on
              >
              > the number of trafficking victims in the country, although most trafficking
              > victims were from French-speaking West Africa (Cote d'Ivoire, Togo, Benin, and

              > Senegal) and Nigeria.
              >
              > The police and an interministerial committee composed of representatives from
              > the labor, justice, foreign affairs, and family ministries were responsible for
              >
              > combating trafficking. The government also cooperated with UNICEF, the
              > International Labor Organization, and diplomatic missions in the country to
              > address trafficking.
              >
              > The country was a destination for child trafficking, with victims trafficked
              > primarily from Benin, Nigeria, Togo, Guinea, and Mali. Smaller numbers were
              > trafficked from Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso, and Cameroon, although children
              >were
              >
              > increasingly trafficked from other countries as well. Most arrived by boat and

              > were trafficked to Libreville or Port Gentil. Boys were trafficked primarily
              >for
              >
              > street hawking and forced labor in handicraft workshops, while girls were
              > primarily trafficked for domestic servitude, forced market vending, restaurant

              > labor, and commercial sexual exploitation. Nigerian children, in particular,
              > were trafficked to the country to work in the informal commercial sector as
              > mechanics. Trafficked children generally worked long hours, were subjected to
              > physical abuse, received inadequate food, and received no wages or schooling.
              >
              > The law provides for prison sentences for traffickers of five to 15 years'
              > imprisonment and fines from 10 million to 20 million CFA ($22,000 to $44,000).

              > However, the government's antitrafficking law enforcement efforts were mixed.
              > The government made significant efforts to comply with minimum standards for
              >the
              >
              > elimination of trafficking, including continuing its efforts to intercept and
              > assist victims; however, the government did not show progress in convicting
              > offenders. There were several arrests for trafficking offenses and, in some
              > cases, prolonged detention of suspects. However, prosecution was infrequent,
              >and
              >
              > the government did not report any trafficking convictions during the year. In
              > November President Bongo Ondimba named a new head to the antitrafficking in
              > persons court. Authorities required some suspected traffickers to pay the cost

              > of repatriating trafficked victims to their countries of origin; however, the
              > consequent absence of victims made successful prosecution of traffickers more
              > difficult. The government assisted in cross-border trafficking prosecutions.
              >The
              >
              > country is a member of the Economic Community of Central Africa's multilateral

              > Cooperation Agreement to Combat Trafficking of Persons in West and Central
              > Africa.
              >
              > Government agencies, in cooperation with UNICEF, provided care for trafficking

              > victims, in some cases through NGOs. The rights of labor trafficking victims
              > were generally respected. Welcome centers were established for adult victims of
              >
              > trafficking; victims were no longer housed in jails.
              >
              > UNICEF and the government sponsored a toll-free 24-hour assistance hotline for

              > child trafficking victims, which arranged free transport to a victims' shelter.
              >
              > A government-funded reception center offered protection and assistance for
              > trafficking victims, including food, education, medical care, and repatriation

              > assistance. A second center, run by Carmelite nuns, provided similar services
              > for older girls and young women.
              >
              > The Department of State's annual Trafficking in Persons Report can be found at

              > www.state.gov/g/tip.
              >
              > Persons with Disabilities
              >
              > There are no laws prohibiting discrimination against persons with disabilities

              > or providing for access to buildings or services; however, there were no
              >reports
              >
              > of official discrimination against persons with disabilities. There was some
              > societal discrimination against persons with disabilities, and employment
              > opportunities and treatment facilities were limited.
              >
              > Indigenous People
              >
              > Pygmies are the earliest known inhabitants of the country. Small numbers of
              > Pygmies continue to live in large tracts of rainforest in the northeast. Most
              > Pygmies, however, were relocated to communities along the major roads during
              >the
              >
              > late colonial and early postindependence period. The law grants them the same
              > civil rights as other citizens, but Pygmies remained largely outside of formal

              > authority, keeping their own traditions, independent communities, and local
              > decision-making structures. Pygmies suffered societal discrimination, often
              > lived in extreme poverty, and did not have easy access to public services.
              >Their
              >
              > Bantu neighbors often exploited their labor by paying them much less than the
              > minimum wage. Despite their equal status under the law, Pygmies generally
              > believed they had little recourse if mistreated by Bantu. There were no
              >specific
              >
              > government programs or policies to assist Pygmies.
              >
              > Societal Abuses, Discrimination, and Acts of Violence Based on Sexual
              > Orientation and Gender Identity
              >
              > There is no law criminalizing homosexual or transgender activity.
              >Discrimination
              >
              > and violence occasioned by homosexual and transgender conduct was not a
              >problem.
              >
              > Other Societal Violence or Discrimination
              >
              > There was considerable discrimination against persons with HIV/AIDS. Local NGOs
              >
              > worked closely with the Minister of Health to combat both the associated stigma
              >
              > and the spread of the disease.
              >
              > Section 7 Worker Rights
              >
              > a. The Right of Association
              >
              > The law places no restrictions on the right of association and recognizes the
              > right of citizens to form and join trade and labor unions; workers exercised
              > these rights in practice. The small private-sector industrial workforce was
              > generally unionized. Unions must register with the government to be recognized

              > officially, and registration was granted routinely.
              >
              > According to the Ministry of Labor, there were more than 136 unions. The
              > ministry estimated there were 40,000 union members in total--10,000 in the
              > public sector and 30,000 in the private sector.
              >
              > The law provides workers the right to strike; however, they may do so only
              >after
              >
              > giving eight days' advance notification and only after arbitration fails.
              >Public
              >
              > sector employees' right to strike is limited if a strike could jeopardize
              >public
              >
              > safety. The law prohibits government action against individual strikers that
              > abide by the notification and arbitration provisions.
              >
              > b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively
              >
              > The law allows unions to conduct their activities without government
              > interference, and the government protected this right. The law provides for
              > collective bargaining by industry, not by firm. Collectively bargained
              > agreements set wages for entire industries. Labor and management met to
              > negotiate differences, with observers from the Ministry of Labor. Agreements
              > negotiated by unions also applied to nonunion workers.
              >
              > Discrimination on the basis of union membership is illegal. Employers who are
              > found guilty by civil courts of having engaged in such discrimination may be
              > required to compensate employees. Trade unions in both the public and private
              > sectors often faced discrimination. Their demands or requests for negotiations

              > were sometimes ignored or denied. Workers did not face termination due to trade
              >
              > union activity.
              >
              > There are no export processing zones.
              >
              > c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor
              >
              > The law prohibits forced or compulsory labor, including by children; however,
              > there were unconfirmed reports that such practices occurred. Forced child labor
              >
              > occurred but was not a systemic problem. Boys were forced to work in local
              > handicraft workshops; girls were primarily trafficked for forced domestic
              > servitude, market vending, restaurant labor, and commercial sexual
              >exploitation.
              >
              > d. Prohibition of Child Labor and Minimum Age for Employment
              >
              > Although children below the age of 16 may not legally work without the express

              > consent of the Ministries of Labor, Education, and Public Health, in practice
              > child labor was a serious problem. According to the law, fines between 290,000

              > CFA to 480,000 CFA ($640 to $1,060) and prison sentences are appropriate
              > punishments for violations of the minimum age for work. The ministries
              > rigorously enforced this law in urban areas with respect to citizen children,
              > and few citizens under the age of 18 years old worked in the formal wage
              >sector;
              >
              > however, child labor occurred in rural areas, where the law was seldom
              >enforced.
              >
              > Child prostitution occurred in the country.
              >
              > An unknown number of children, primarily noncitizens, worked in marketplaces or
              >
              > performed domestic work; many of these children were reportedly victims of
              >child
              >
              > trafficking. Such children generally did not attend school, received only
              > limited medical attention, and were often exploited by employers or foster
              > families. Laws forbidding child labor covered these children, but abuses often

              > were not reported.
              >
              > The constitution and labor code protect children against exploitation. The
              > Ministry of Justice is responsible for implementing and enforcing child labor
              > laws and regulations. Inspectors from the Ministry of Labor are responsible for
              >
              > receiving, investigating, and addressing child labor complaints. However,
              > violations were not systematically addressed because the inspection force was
              > inadequate, and complaints were routinely not investigated. The government
              > viewed child labor and child trafficking as closely linked. Many victims of
              > trafficking were children brought to the country and forced to work. Domestic
              > servitude was a sector with an unusually high number of child laborers
              > trafficked into the country. The government took no notable action to combat
              > child labor.
              >
              > e. Acceptable Conditions of Work
              >
              > The national monthly minimum wage is 80,000 CFA ($172); government workers
              > received an additional monthly allowance of 20,000 CFA ($43) per child.
              > Government workers also received transportation, housing, and family benefits.

              > The law does not mandate housing or family benefits for private sector workers.
              >
              > The minimum wage did not provide a decent standard of living for a worker and
              > family. The Ministry of Labor was responsible for enforcing the minimum wage
              > standards and, in general, it did so effectively.
              >
              > The labor code governs working conditions and benefits for all formal sectors
              > and provides a broad range of protection to workers; however, the government
              > sometimes did not respect these protections. According to the law,
              > representatives of labor, management, and the government are required to meet
              > annually to examine economic and labor conditions and to recommend a minimum
              > wage rate to the president, who then issues an annual decree. This procedure
              >has
              >
              > not been followed since 1994, partly because the government has been following
              >a
              >
              > policy of wage austerity recommended by international financial institutions.
              > There are various minimum wage rates depending on occupation or industry, but
              > they have not been changed since 1994. There is no minimum wage applied to the

              > informal sector.
              >
              > The labor code stipulates a 40-hour workweek with a minimum rest period of 48
              > consecutive hours. Employers must compensate workers for overtime work.
              >
              > According to the labor code and related decrees, the daily limit can be
              >extended
              >
              > to perform specified preparatory or complementary work, including work
              >necessary
              >
              > to start machines in a factory; supervisors whose presence at the workplace is

              > indispensable may also have hours extended. The additional time ranges from 30

              > minutes to two hours, depending on the type of work.
              >
              > The daily limit does not apply to establishments in which work is performed on
              >a
              >
              > continuous basis and those providing services that cannot be subject to a daily
              >
              > limit, including retail, transport, dock work, hotels and catering,
              > housekeeping, guard services, other security, medical establishments, domestic

              > work, and the press.
              >
              > The daily limit can be extended for urgent work to prevent or respond to
              > accidents. The additional hours are without limit on the first day and two
              >hours
              >
              > on following days. The general limit for overtime is 20 hours per week.
              >
              > Overtime compensation varies, since it is determined by collective agreements
              >or
              >
              > government regulations.
              >
              > Companies in the formal sector generally paid competitive wages and granted the
              >
              > fringe benefits required by law, including maternity leave and six weeks of
              > annual paid vacation.
              >
              > The Ministry of Health established occupational health and safety standards but
              >
              > did not enforce or regulate them. The application of labor standards varied
              >from
              >
              > company to company and between industries. In the formal sector, workers may
              > remove themselves from dangerous work situations without fear of retribution.
              >
              > The government reportedly did not enforce labor code provisions in sectors
              >where
              >
              > the majority of the labor force was foreign. Foreign workers, both documented
              > and undocumented, were obliged to work under substandard conditions; were
              > dismissed without notice or recourse; or, especially in the case of illegal
              > immigrants, were mistreated physically. Employers frequently paid noncitizens
              > less and required them to work longer hours, often hiring them on a short term,
              >
              > casual basis to avoid paying taxes, social security contributions, and other
              > benefits.
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >
              > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              >







              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • landry lig
              Police use tear gas to break up Gabon protest Sat Jan 29, 2011 8:35pm GMT Print | Single Page LIBREVILLE Jan 29 (Reuters) - Riot police in Gabon fired tear gas
              Message 6 of 10 , Jan 29, 2011
                Police use tear gas to break up Gabon protest
                Sat Jan 29, 2011 8:35pm GMT

                Print | Single Page
                LIBREVILLE Jan 29 (Reuters) - Riot police in Gabon fired tear gas to break up a
                protest by around 5,000 opposition supporters on Saturday, with witnesses saying
                that up to 20 people were wounded in the clashes.
                It was the second such protest since opposition leader Andre Mba Obame declared
                himself president on Tuesday and urged Gabonese to take inspiration from
                Tunisia's popular uprising that ousted former leader Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.
                One policeman was beaten badly in the street clashes in an opposition stronghold
                of the capital Libreville. Witnesses said that other injuries sustained on
                either side were minor.
                The central African oil exporter has been troubled since a 2009 election won by
                Ali Bongo Odimba, but which the main opposition group says was rigged.
                Bongo's election in 2009 allowed him to take over from his father Omar and led
                to days of rioting across the country as opponents accused him of vote-rigging.
                However he won broad international recognition as the winner and has set about a
                policy of diversifying the economy.
                Final results put Bongo first with 41.79 percent, veteran opposition figure
                Pierre Mamboundou second with 25.66 percent and Mba Obame third with 25.33
                percent. (Reporting by Phal Gualbert Mezui Ndong; writing by Mark John; Editing
                by Maria Golovnina)




                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • landry lig
                A great American president drafted the following words: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by
                Message 7 of 10 , Jan 29, 2011
                  A great American president drafted the following words: “We hold these truths to
                  be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their
                  Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and
                  the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are
                  instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the
                  governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these
                  ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute
                  new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its
                  powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety
                  and happiness. ”

                  We are convinced that when Thomas Jefferson drafted these words, he knew that
                  all man were equal in the eyes of God.
                  The Gabonese people are fighting today for the same unalienable rights (life,
                  liberty and the pursuit of happiness). The Gabonese people know that the
                  American people fought for these unalienable rights during the American
                  Revolution against the mighty British Empire and France fought during the French
                  Revolution against the French monarchy.





                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                • landry lig
                  Gabonese (in and outside Gabon) will determine their own fate I do agree. But to suggest that Gabonese do not need any outside help is to suggest that French
                  Message 8 of 10 , Jan 30, 2011
                    Gabonese (in and outside Gabon) will determine their own fate I do agree. But
                    to suggest that Gabonese do not need any outside help is to suggest that French
                    people (Lafayette and Louis XVI) did not have to help the Americans during the
                    American Revolution. Where do you think the Gabonese (in Gabon) will find the
                    resources to defeat the current authoritarian government? Yes, a "Thomas
                    Jefferson" could have emerged in Gabon with a support from outside Gabon.




                    ________________________________
                    From: bobutne <bobutne@...>
                    To: gabondiscussion@yahoogroups.com
                    Sent: Sun, January 30, 2011 9:33:05 AM
                    Subject: [Gabon Discussion] Re: why a revolution is needed in Gabon?


                    Gabonese (in Gabon) are going to determine their own fate regardless of what
                    their expat community preaches from abroad. Also, they do not need the French,
                    Chinese, Americans, etc. butting in as they normally do. Will a "Thomas
                    Jefferson" emerge in Gabon?


                    --- In gabondiscussion@yahoogroups.com, landry lig <landry_lig@...> wrote:
                    >
                    > A great American president drafted the following words: “We hold these truths
                    >to
                    >
                    > be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their
                    >
                    > Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and
                    >
                    > the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are
                    > instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the
                    > governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these
                    > ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute
                    >
                    > new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its
                    > powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety
                    > and happiness. ”
                    >
                    > We are convinced that when Thomas Jefferson drafted these words, he knew that
                    > all man were equal in the eyes of God.
                    > The Gabonese people are fighting today for the same unalienable rights (life,
                    > liberty and the pursuit of happiness). The Gabonese people know that the
                    > American people fought for these unalienable rights during the American
                    > Revolution against the mighty British Empire and France fought during the
                    >French
                    >
                    > Revolution against the French monarchy.
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                    >







                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                  • dupont3@juno.com
                    Come on! There is no authoritarian government in Gabon. Gabon is a stable country with the most capable leader elected a majority of the people.Frauds like
                    Message 9 of 10 , Jan 30, 2011
                      Come on! There is no authoritarian government in Gabon. Gabon is a stable country with the most capable leader elected a majority of the people.Frauds like Obame can rally some supporters But the will of the people does not want that type of person running the country. At the end of the day Gabon is better off with Ali Bongo and the skills he brinGs to the job. When a more capable leader that can earn the respect of the people comes along then we can talk about that intelligently but let's not talk about revolution like it is some type of fad that comes and goes. Let's not prop up some phony with bad ideas cause of a corrupt need to change the players and gain power.


                      ---------- Original Message ----------
                      From: landry lig <landry_lig@...>
                      To: gabondiscussion@yahoogroups.com
                      Subject: Re: [Gabon Discussion] Re: why a revolution is needed in Gabon?
                      Date: Sun, 30 Jan 2011 08:34:52 -0800 (PST)


                      Gabonese (in and outside Gabon) will determine their own fate I do agree. But
                      to suggest that Gabonese do not need any outside help is to suggest that French
                      people (Lafayette and Louis XVI) did not have to help the Americans during the
                      American Revolution. Where do you think the Gabonese (in Gabon) will find the
                      resources to defeat the current authoritarian government? Yes, a "Thomas
                      Jefferson" could have emerged in Gabon with a support from outside Gabon.




                      ________________________________
                      From: bobutne <bobutne@...>
                      To: gabondiscussion@yahoogroups.com
                      Sent: Sun, January 30, 2011 9:33:05 AM
                      Subject: [Gabon Discussion] Re: why a revolution is needed in Gabon?


                      Gabonese (in Gabon) are going to determine their own fate regardless of what
                      their expat community preaches from abroad. Also, they do not need the French,
                      Chinese, Americans, etc. butting in as they normally do. Will a "Thomas
                      Jefferson" emerge in Gabon?


                      --- In gabondiscussion@yahoogroups.com, landry lig <landry_lig@...> wrote:
                      >
                      > A great American president drafted the following words: “We hold these truths
                      >to
                      >
                      > be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their
                      >
                      > Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and
                      >
                      > the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are
                      > instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the
                      > governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these
                      > ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute
                      >
                      > new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its
                      > powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety
                      > and happiness. ”
                      >
                      > We are convinced that when Thomas Jefferson drafted these words, he knew that
                      > all man were equal in the eyes of God.
                      > The Gabonese people are fighting today for the same unalienable rights (life,
                      > liberty and the pursuit of happiness). The Gabonese people know that the
                      > American people fought for these unalienable rights during the American
                      > Revolution against the mighty British Empire and France fought during the
                      >French
                      >
                      > Revolution against the French monarchy.
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                      >







                      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]



                      ------------------------------------

                      Yahoo! Groups Links



                      ____________________________________________________________
                      Globe Life Insurance
                      $1* Buys $50,000 Life Insurance. Adults or Children. No Medical Exam.
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                    • François Gouahinga
                      As predicted: Gabon: affrontements entre étudiants et gendarmes à Libreville Pneus enflammés devant l université Omar Bongo de Libreville où des
                      Message 10 of 10 , Feb 10, 2011
                        As predicted:

                        Gabon: affrontements entre étudiants et gendarmes à Libreville




                        Pneus enflammés devant l'université Omar Bongo de Libreville où des étudiants ont manifesté le 10 février 2011
                        © AFP Wils Yanick Maniengui

                        LIBREVILLE (AFP) -
                        jeudi 10 février 2011 - 15h39
                        - Des affrontements
                        entre étudiants, réclamant le paiement de leurs bourses, et gendarmes
                        ont débuté jeudi à l'université Omar Bongo (UOB) de Libreville.

                        Les
                        jeunes, retranchés dans l'UOB, ont lancé des cailloux et autres
                        projectiles sur les forces de l'ordre qui ont répondu par de nombreux
                        tirs de grenades lacrymogène.Il y a eu au moins trois blessés légers parmi les étudiants atteints par des éclats de grenade, a constaté l'AFP.
                        Les
                        étudiants réclament le paiement de leurs bourses: environ la moitié des
                        17.000 étudiants de l'université touchent une bourse de 66.000 F CFA
                        (100 euros). Celles-ci n'ont pas été payées depuis sept mois, ont
                        affirmé plusieurs manifestants à l'AFP. Selon un étudiant, seuls les
                        nouveaux bacheliers ont touché leur dû.
                        Les
                        étudiants ont décidé d'un gel des cours en assemblée générale dans la
                        matinée et ont ensuite voulu "monter une barricade" sur l'avenue devant
                        l'université: "On voulait montrer notre mécontentement. C'est la seule
                        manière de nous faire entendre", a affirmé l'un d'entre eux sous couvert
                        de l'anonymat
                        Ils ont été délogés par les gendarmes et les affrontements ont continué pendant l'après-midi.
                        Les
                        étudiants réclament aussi de meilleures conditions d'études et
                        notamment la rénovation des bâtiments, des sanitaires ainsi que plus
                        d'enseignants. "L'université est un dépotoir. Les bâtiments s'écroulent,
                        les tables sont cassées, les effectifs sont pléthoriques. Certains font
                        cours debout", a affirmé un autre.
                        Certains
                        demandent aussi la "réintégration" des trois professeurs sympathisants
                        de l'Union nationale (UN) du président autoproclamé du Gabon André Mba
                        Obame. Ces trois enseignants font partie du "gouvernement" de l'UN et
                        sont réfugiés depuis l'autoprolamation au siège d'une agence onusienne
                        de Libreville.
                        En
                        févier 2010, des affrontements entre étudiants et gendarmes avaient fait
                        une vingtaine de blessés dont un grave. les étudiants avaient reçu
                        leurs bourses quelques jours plus tard.

                        --- En date de : Ven 28.1.11, François Gouahinga <gouaf@...> a écrit :

                        De: François Gouahinga <gouaf@...>
                        Objet: [Gabon Discussion] Re : Gabon copycat revolution fails
                        À: gabondiscussion@yahoogroups.com
                        Date: Vendredi 28 janvier 2011, 22h53







                         









                        Don't count us out just yet. Turn your ears towards OB University. Big storm's brewing.



                        --- En date de : Ven 28.1.11, bobutne <bobutne@...> a écrit :



                        De: bobutne <bobutne@...>

                        Objet: [Gabon Discussion] Gabon copycat revolution fails

                        À: gabondiscussion@yahoogroups.com

                        Date: Vendredi 28 janvier 2011, 21h35



                         



                        afrol News, 28 January - An attempt by Gabon's opposition leader André Mba Obame to stage a revolution inspired by Tunisia and the chaos in Côte d'Ivoire has failed to gather enough popular and international support.



                        The National Union party was only founded in Libreville in March last year and legalised in April, uniting many of Gabon's main opposition parties. Party president Zacharie Myboto already before the Union's legalisation had to struggle with its upcoming leader André Mba Obame.



                        Mr Obame was known as a loose shot as he warned about a possible coup in Gabon, causing a police investigation and a delay in the new party's legalisation.



                        On Tuesday, Mr Obame made another unexpected move as he declared himself "President of Gabon," claiming he had won the August 2009 presidential election in the country. Mr Obame in 2009 had stood as an independent candidate, losing out to interim President Ali Bongo in a rather unfair election.



                        The opposition leader made the statement on air on the television broadcaster TV+, owned by himself. He took the oath as Gabon's President and named a parallel cabinet of 19 ministers, 17 months after the 2009 elections.



                        Angered by the surprise statement and unconstitutional act, President Bongo disbanded the National Union party and sent out security forces to arrest Mr Obame.



                        But the opposition leader managed to flee and took refuge in the Libreville offices of the UN. From here, he has sought the UN and the international community to accept him as the lawful President of Gabon - leaning onto the chaotic situation in Côte d'Ivoire, where the UN acknowledges Alassane Ouattara as the rightful leader despite President Laurent Gbagbo's reluctance to step down.



                        Also from his UN refuge, Mr Obame managed to mobilise hundreds of his supporters in protest marches, hoping to copy the popular revolution in Tunisia. Protesters yesterday gathered in front of the UN offices, urging for the international recognition of Mr Obame as Gabon's leader.



                        While the Bongo regime is both undemocratic and authoritarian, Gabon's similarities with Tunisia and Côte d'Ivoire stopped there. For Gabonese police troops, it was an easy match to disperse the anti-government protesters with tear gas yesterday. Today, there have been no signs of new protest marches.



                        Also internationally, the response to Mr Obame's self-declared presidency has been a cold shoulder. No one has recognised his presidency.



                        At the African Union (AU), the move rather caused irritation. AU Commission Chairman Jean Ping - himself a Gabonese citizen, said he had learned about the announcement "with surprise and concern." He reminded the Gabonese opposition that the 2009 election was held "in the presence of international observers."



                        The AU urged the Gabonese opposition to rather "take pride in their contribution to the stability and respect Gabon enjoys," further urging it to "exercise restraint." Government however was asked to enter dialogue with the opposition "to strengthen its democratic process and attain socio-economic development."



                        Mr Obame obtained 25 percent of the votes in the 2009 elections, according to official results, and it is widely understood that his support is not significantly larger among the Gabonese population. It may rather have fallen after the surprise announcement of his presidency.



                        http://www.afrol.com/articles/37158



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