1. The Committee considered the second periodic report of Gabon (CCPR/C/128/Add.1)
at its 1886th and 1887th meetings on 27 October 2000 (CCPR/C/SR.1886
and 1887), and adopted the following concluding observations at its
1894th meeting, held on 2 November 2000 (CCPR/C/SR.1894).
2. The Committee
found the introduction to the second periodic report of Gabon and the
additional written material interesting. It is thankful that the report
was submitted on time and notes the efforts made by the State party
delegation to answer the Committee's questions. It regrets, however,
that the report is so brief, offering some information on Gabonese legislation,
but no specific details on the implementation of the Covenant. It emphasizes
that the State party has not followed the guidelines for the submission
of reports or taken account of the concerns the Committee expressed
in its concluding observations following the consideration of the initial
B. Positive aspects
3. The Committee welcomes Gabon's shift towards a multi-party, pluralistic
democracy, particularly since the amendments to the Constitution in
1994 and 1997.
4. It notes
with satisfaction that the Covenant is directly applicable in Gabon.
5. The Committee
is pleased that individuals may submit appeals directly to the Constitutional
Court, which could additionally strengthen the remedies available to
them in the event of violations of the Covenant.
6. The Committee
takes note of the establishment of a ministry with responsibility for
human rights and of a 14-member national human rights commission as
an official body to promote and protect human rights with jurisdiction
to consider applications from individuals. It welcomes the creation
of an interministerial commission to identify and remove discriminatory
legislative provisions, particularly with regard to women.
7. It notes
that the police are no longer a part of the Armed Forces and no longer
come under the authority of the military command in the Ministry of
C. Principal subjects of concern and recommendations
8. The Committee
reiterates the concern expressed in its 1996 concluding observations
that the non-discrimination clauses contained in articles 2, 3 and 26
of the Covenant are not fully reflected in the Constitution.
9. The Committee
notes that there are customs and traditions in the State party, having
a bearing on, among other things, equality between men and women, that
may hamper the full implementation of some provisions of the Covenant.
In particular, the Committee deplores the fact that polygamy is still
practised in Gabon and refers to its general comment No. 28, which states
that polygamy is incompatible with equality of treatment with regard
to the right to marry. "Polygamy violates the dignity of women. It is
an inadmissible discrimination against women" (CCPR/C/21/Rev.1/Add.10,
para. 24). The Committee also observes that a number of legislative
provisions in Gabon are not compatible with the Covenant, including
article 252 of the Civil Code requiring a woman to be obedient to her
husband. Lastly, the Committee notes that, in the event of her husband's
death, a woman inherits only the usufruct of a quarter of the property
left by her husband, and only after her children.
party must review its legislation and practice in order to ensure that
women have the same rights as men, including rights of ownership and
inheritance. It must take specific action to increase the involvement
of women in political, economic and social life and ensure that there
is no discrimination based on customary law in matters such as marriage,
divorce and inheritance. Polygamy must be abolished and article 252
of the Civil Code repealed. It is the duty of the State party to do
everything necessary to ensure that the Covenant is respected.
Committee notes the lack of information concerning article 4, paragraph
2, of the Covenant; it is concerned about the lack of safeguards and
effective remedies available to individuals during a state of emergency.
the State party to clarify the rights of the Covenant affected by the
various types of state of emergency. Gabon should establish effective
remedies in legislation that are applicable during a state of emergency.
11. The Committee
notes that the State Security Court is still in existence even if it
is not functioning.
Gabon to abolish it.
12. The Committee
notes the State party's declared policy of not applying the death penalty,
and that no one has been executed since 1981.
invites the State party to take the required steps to accede to the
Second Optional Protocol to the Covenant on the abolition of the death
13. The Committee
notes that the safeguards provided for in article 9 of the Covenant
are not fully respected either in law or in practice. It is particularly
concerned about the length of time people can spend in police custody
and pre-trial detention. It points out that article 9, paragraph 3,
of the Covenant stipulates that "It shall not be the general rule that
persons awaiting trial shall be detained in custody".
party should take action to ensure that detention in police custody
never lasts longer than 48 hours and that detainees have access to lawyers
from the moment of their detention. The State party must ensure full
de facto compliance with the provisions of article 9, paragraph 3, of
14. The Committee
notes the delegation's statement that, in prison, detainees are segregated,
accused persons being kept separate from convicted persons and juveniles
from adults. It is, however, concerned to learn that such segregation
is still not practised in some rural prisons. Although, since the consideration
of the previous report, Gabon has made efforts to restructure its prisons
and has built two new ones, the Committee is still concerned about the
dilapidated state of the old prisons, the overcrowding and the lack
party must bring prison conditions into line with article 10 of the
Covenant and the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners,
making those rules available to the police, the Armed Forces, prison
staff and anyone else responsible for conducting interrogations, as
well as to persons deprived of their liberty.
15. The Committee
reiterates its concern about the practice of putting people in prison
for civil debts, which is in breach of article 11 of the Covenant.
party must abolish imprisonment for debt.
16. As regards
the rights of non-Gabonese citizens and refugees living in Gabon, the
Committee notes that foreign workers are still required to have exit
visas, in contravention of article 12 of the Covenant.
party must do away with this requirement.
17. The Committee
is concerned to note that the State party denies the existence of minorities
in its territory. The Committee is concerned to note that the steps
taken to guarantee the rights of people belonging to minorities, as
set forth in article 27 of the Covenant, are inadequate, particularly
with regard to the Baka people.
party must take positive, effective steps to guarantee the rights of
people belonging to all minorities.
18. The Committee
is concerned about the exploitation of children, including foreign children.
It notes that the Libreville Conference in February 2000 showed this
to be a veritable scourge.
party must take all necessary steps to ensure that children enjoy special
protection, in accordance with its obligations under article 24 of the
19. The Committee
notes with regret that the powers vested in the National Council of
Communication to monitor programmes and impose penalties on organs of
the press are an obstacle to the exercise of freedom of the press. It
deplores the harassment of journalists.
invites the State party to bring its legislation into line with article
19 by doing away with censorship and penalties against organs of the
press and ensuring that journalists may safely exercise their functions.
D. Dissemination of information about the Covenant
20. The Committee
has scheduled the submission of the third periodic report for 31 October
2003. This report should be prepared in accordance with the Committee's
revised guidelines, provide gender disaggregated data and up-to-date
statistics on the status of women and give particular prominence to
the recommendations made in these concluding observations. The Committee
requests that these concluding observations and the next periodic report
should be widely circulated to the general public, including civil society
and non-governmental organizations active in Gabon.