The following information reports U.S. Government priorities and activities of the U.S. mission in Gabon to promote democracy and human rights. For background on Gabon's human rights conditions, please see the 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
and the International Religious Freedom Reports
Part 1: U.S. Government Democracy Objectives
U.S. priorities for the advancement of democracy and human rights in the country include the strengthening of democratic institutions, good governance, and transparency. Gabon experienced a constitutional transition of power in 2009, after the death of President Omar Bongo Ondimba, Africa's longest-serving head of state. The U.S. Government continues to work closely with government officials, political parties, and civil society to support accountable and transparent democratic institutions, laws, and political processes. The U.S. Government participates in efforts to coordinate democracy and governance initiatives with other international donors. The U.S. ambassador meets with both government and opposition leaders and with representatives from Gabonese society to stress the importance of political participation and ensures that other U.S. officials do the same.
The ambassador and U.S. Government representatives spoke publicly on behalf of women's rights, democratic reform, security force professionalization, and a free press. The mission is dedicated to combating trafficking in persons, restrictions on the press, corruption, and violence against women.
Part 2: Supporting Top Priorities and Other Aspects of Human Rights and Democratic Governance
The U.S. Government's support for democratic institutions, good governance, and transparency occurs on many levels. The U.S. Government fielded unofficial monitors throughout the country during the August 2009 presidential election. Respect for human rights is an important component of U.S.-funded training for military and police officials. The United States also supports the development of a more vibrant civil society through support for community associations and other groups, including environmental organizations, farmer collectives, and activists advocating minorities' and women's rights. The U.S. Government sponsored civil society initiatives to promote awareness and enfranchisement of isolated communities and marginalized populations.
The United States continues to implement a public diplomacy program in the country, including frequent appearances by the U.S. ambassador in the local media. In events ranging from a self-help project signing ceremony to the opening of an American Corner in a municipal library, the ambassador has consistently emphasized the importance of women's rights, democratic reform, and freedom of the press. The mission also reached out to Muslim communities and held a well-attended Iftar dinner during Ramadan to bring together a broad spectrum of Gabonese political and religious leaders.
The U.S. Government regularly held events with members of government and civil society, including journalists and trade union representatives, to discuss and underscore the importance of worker rights, press freedom, and political participation. The United States continues to promote press freedom and good journalistic ethics. The United States has been successful in identifying journalists, politicians, and civil society leaders with a wide range of backgrounds and political perspectives to participate in exchange programs to the United States.
To address the problem of trafficking in persons, the United States works directly with key government officials on strengthening its legal regime against trafficking. The United States pressed the government to carry out legislative and bureaucratic reforms and engaged the government, at all levels, in a continuing dialogue to encourage a stronger law enforcement response to the problem. The U.S. Government coordinated training for law enforcement, immigration, government ministries, and nongovernmental organizations on identifying and protecting victims of human trafficking.