Copies of weekly confiscated, civil society activist prevented from leaving the country

Expression

7,000 copies of the weekly Moutouki were confiscated on 17th January 2020 after the national media regulator Haute Autorité de la Communication (HAC; High Authority for Communication) made a public announcement, saying that the article ‘Petit Prince Consort’ in the weekly violated the Communication Code. The article claims that President Ali Bongo’s son, Noureddin Bongo Valentin, who also recently became presidential affairs coordinator, is accused by civil society groups of corruption, misuse of public funds and money laundering. According to the HAC, the article contains ‘malicious, suspicious and tendentious’ allegations that constitute ‘persecution, calumny and insult’. The decision to confiscate was made without giving the weekly’s editor a chance to refute HAC’s accusations. According to Reporters without Borders (RSF), newspapers of the Oloumambe Press – who also own Moutouki – have been suspended seven times for a combined total of 18 months. Arnaud Froger of RSF said:

“Compounding the arbitrary nature of this decision, the HAC did not even trouble to question the journalist or inform him of its observations, although it can do this. This politically motivated sanction, imposed with the sole aim of protecting the presidential family’s interests, is far from conforming to the duties of an independent media regulator.”

Association

Trade unionist, civil society leader and member of the pro-democracy movement Tournons la Page Marcel Libama was prevented by the High Authority of Security (Haute autorité de sûreté) from leaving the country and to board a flight to Pointe-Noire, Republic of Congo, on 18th January 2020. Libama was on his way to attend a conference. According to the activist, the travel ban was linked to a corruption complaint he made, together with three other civil society leaders, against Nourredin Bongo Valentin a few days earlier on 13th January 2020. The civil society actors accuse the son of President Ali Bongo of corruption, misuse of public funds and money-laundering.