Rights groups salute release of prominent artist
Publish date: 12 March 2018
Issue Number: 765
Diary: IBA Legalbrief Africa
Category: Equatorial Guinea
Human rights groups have saluted an Equatorial Guinea court for releasing an artist imprisoned for nearly six months. The prosecution dropped all charges against Ramón Ebalé, a cartoonist whose work is often critical of the government. This after the police officer who had charged him with graft admitted making the accusation based on orders from his superiors. ‘It is a huge relief that the prosecution dropped its charges against Ramon, but they should never have been pressed in the first place,’ said Salil Tripathi, chair of PEN International's Writers-in-Prison Committee. ‘We urge the authorities to guarantee his safe return to his family, allow him to continue creating his hard-hitting cartoons, and ensure that Equatorial Guinea respects the right to freedom of expression.’ A report on the allAfrica site notes that a global #FreeNseRamon coalition, consisting of hundreds of artists, activists and organisations devoted to protecting artistic freedom, freedom of expression and other human rights, carried out a campaign to direct international attention to his situation. Tutu Alicante, director of EG Justice, which promotes human rights in Equatorial Guinea, said the court ruling ‘is a testament of the power of collective work of hundreds of artists, concerned citizens, and NGOs’.