Equatorial Guinea: Lawyer Gemma Jones was arbitrarily detained for more than three hours at the National Police station in the capital city of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea, Malabo.
On 15 September 2021, Equatoguinean lawyer Gemma Jones was unjustifiably detained by the police, preventing her from intervening at the International Day of Democracy.
Equatoguinean lawyer Gemma Jones, who heads the law firm, JONES & SACRISTAN, founded in 2020 and based in the capital city of Malabo, specialises in business consultancy as well as human rights advocacy.
Gemma Jones has recently publicly denounced, through social networks, the lack of motivation and inadmissibility of a complaint filed by her office before the Court of Instruction No. 2 of the city of Malabo in a case involving the national electricity company (SEGESA) and some of its employees. The complaint referred to the dubious practices of SEGESA inspectors and the infringement of the property rights of Equatorial Guinean citizens by the company.
As a result of this complaint and her public statements, the lawyer’s office suffered an abrupt power cut without just cause.
On 15 September 2021, agents of the judicial brigade went to the office of JONES & SACRISTÁN to ask Gemma Jones to go to the Gendarmerie to make a statement without justifying the reason for the summons. Upon arrival at the judicial office, she was informed of an investigation into the leaking of the competitive examination for the B1 category of the state civil service organised on 12 September.
The lawyer made her telephone number available to investigators, evidencing her lack of involvement in the events under investigation. Despite this clarification, Gemma Jones was arbitrarily detained for more than three hours, preventing her from speaking at the International Day of Democracy event organised by the US Embassy in Malabo.
The Observatory denounces pressure and intimidation against lawyer Gemma JONES
The Observatory recalls that the independence of lawyers is one of the main indicators of democratic health and the consolidation of the rule of law. This is in accordance with the provisions of the United Nations Principles on the Role of Lawyers.
The Observatory recalls the UN Principles on the Role of Lawyers, and in particular Principles 16 and 23 which state the following:
Principle 16: ” Governments shall ensure that lawyers (a) are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference; (b) are able to travel and to consult with their clients freely both within their own country and abroad; and (c) shall not suffer, or be threatened with, prosecution or administrative, economic or other sanctions for any action taken in accordance with recognized professional duties, standards and ethics.”
Principle 23: “ Lawyers like other citizens are entitled to freedom of expression, belief, association and assembly. In particular, they shall have the right to take part in public discussion of matters concerning the law, the administration of justice and the promotion and protection of human rights and to join or form local, national or international organizations and attend their meetings, without suffering professional restrictions by reason of their lawful action or their membership in a lawful organization. In exercising these rights, lawyers shall always conduct themselves in accordance with the law and the recognized standards and ethics of the legal profession.”