Gabon

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Persistent violations
  • Use of, and conditions in, detention for children[1]
  • Early marriage[2]
  • Violence against children[3]
  • Trafficking of children[4]
  • Inadequate education provision, particularly for girls[5]
  • Corporal punishment[6]

For more details, go here

Footnotes
  1. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Human Rights Committee, Universal Periodic Review
  2. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, Universal Periodic Review
  3. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child< UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women
  4. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women
  5. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, Universal Periodic Review
  6. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child< Universal Periodic Review



Introduction

One of the most prosperous countries in Sub Saharan Africa, Gabon sits on the continent’s central West coast, bordered by Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon and the Republic of Congo. Independent from France since 1960, Gabon made moves towards multi-party democracy during the 1990s, though the results of the 2009 election were challenged by one of the losing parties. Ongoing issues include juvenile justice, media intimidation and lack of regular reporting to UN human rights bodies.


Geography

Gabon lies on the equator on the west coast of Africa and shares borders with Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon and the Republic of Congo. 85 per cent of the territory is covered in rainforest, 12 per cent of which is protected as national parkland, the highest proportion of such protection in any country in the world. The capital city is Libreville.


Population and Language

Gabon's population has more than doubled over the last three decades to its current level of 1.5 million,[1] and continues to rise at just under two per cent annually. French is the country's official language[2] though Fang, Myene, Bapounou and Badjabi are also spoken among the ethnic groups which give their names to the languages.


History and Politics

In 1839, the country now known as Gabon came under the control of the French Empire, and remained so until the country gained its independence in 1960. Leon Mba emerged as President in the years immediately after independence, his position maintained by French intervention in 1964 following the only coup in Gabon's modern history. Upon the death of Mba in 1967, Albert Bernard Bongo, who took the name Omar Bongo upon his conversion to Islam, took office and established a one party state. The discovery of oil and the subsequent economic growth created a level of political stability that has been historically uncommon in the region, but as growth slowed in the 1980s opposition grew leading to democratic reforms in the 1990s. President Bongo remained in power throughout the reforms as the leader of the Parti Democratique Gabonais (PDG) who matched his electoral success with majorities in the Parliament. Upon the death of President Omar Bongo, his son, Ali Bongo, was chosen as leader of the PDF and was elected President later that year amid allegations of electoral fraud.[3]


Economy

The discovery of oil in Gabon more than forty years ago has brought the country high per capita income and levels of human development compared to other sub-Saharan African states, though at 106th on the human development index, the country falls short of those with comparable per capita income.[4] The World Bank has noted the country's historically poor economic performance and fiscal management, but has recognised improvements over the last five years. Higher oil prices alongside fiscal adjustment and structural reforms, including privatisation and transparency initiatives, have served to improve financial management. The global economic crisis of 2008-9 severely impacted upon the value of the export commodities that are key to the Gabonese economy, particularly oil, manganese, wood, rubber and services. Growth entered negative figures for the first time since 2000, though the World Bank has projected that growth will exceed 5 per cent from 2010.[5]


Media and Civil Society

Gabonese law provides Constitutional guarantees of freedom expression and of the press, but legal harassment, threats and financial pressure on journalists are common. Freedom House has noted an improvement of the situation for the media in the country since President Ali Bongo came to power, but continues to document cases of governmental pressure. In 2010, a journalist with the daily L'Union newspaper was convicted of criminal defamation in relation to a person who was not named in the article in question, and later the same year the editor of Le Temps was imprisoned for failing to pay a fine in relation to a defamation charge.[6] The newspaper Ezombolo was also subject to a temporary ban in 2010 for “persistently insulting the head of state”.[7]

Reporters Without Borders rated the country 101 out of 179 in its 2011/12 Press Freedom Index.[8]


Human Rights and Children's Rights

Gabon is a party to most international human rights Conventions, though it has not signed or ratified the two optional protocols to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and or the complaints protocol of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. However, the country has a poor record on engaging with human rights mechanisms, and has not reported to any of the UN Treaty Bodies since 2005. Nonetheless, concerns have persistently been raised over the country's record on juvenile justice, particularly with regards to the detention of children in overcrowded conditions and for lengthy periods prior to trial.[9]

In September 2012, Gabon became one of the first countries to ratify the Optional Protocol on a communications procedure for the CRC.


Footnotes:

  1. UNDESA, "Population Statistics 2011"
  2. Constitution of Gabon, art. 2
  3. See BBC, "Gabon profile: leaders" 14 June 2012 and "Gabon's Ali Bongo calls for calm" 5 September 2009
  4. UNDP, "Gabon human development indicators"
  5. The World Bank, "Gabon: Country Brief"
  6. Freedom House, "Freedom of the Press 2011: Gabon"
  7. Reporters Without Borders, "New temporary ban on newspaper Ezombolo" 27 May 2010
  8. Reporters Without Borders, "Press Freedom Index 2011/12"
  9. CRIN, "Gabon: Persistent violations of children's rights" 11 July 2012

Sources:

Quick Facts

  • Population: 1,563,900 (UNDP, 2012)
  • Population under 18: 642,000 (UNICEF, 2011)
  • Number of internet users: 159,012 (8.2% of the population) (Internet World Stats, 2012)
  • Human Development Index ranking: 106 (UNDP, 2012)
  • Happy Planet ranking: N/A