Birth Registration: Citizenship is conferred through one’s parents and not by birth in the country. At least one parent must be a citizen to transmit citizenship. Registration of all births is mandatory, and children without birth certificates may not attend school or participate in most government-sponsored programs.
Many mothers could not obtain birth certificates for their children due to isolation, poverty, or lack of understanding of the law.
Education: Education is compulsory and tuition-free until age 16. Students were required to pay for their supplies, including school uniforms. The country had a shortage of classrooms and teachers, and education often was unavailable after sixth grade in rural areas.
Child Abuse: Child abuse occurred, but most cases were not reported, particularly if the abuse occurred within the family. When reports of abuse surfaced, police generally arrested the accused abusers, but an inefficient judicial system resulted in long delays in adjudication. While there were no data or estimates from any source, local NGOs believed abuse was common.
Forced and Early Marriage: The minimum age for consensual sex and marriage is 15 for girls and 18 for boys. Child marriage was rare.
Harmful Traditional Practices: Although illegal, FGM/C was believed to occur among the resident population of noncitizen Africans. Ritual killings, primarily of children, in which limbs, genitals, or other organs were amputated, occurred and often went unpunished. The practice was driven by the belief that certain body parts enhanced certain strengths. Blood was also used in rituals. Persons with albinism were not targeted.
The local NGO Association to Fight Ritual Crimes (ALCR) reported 36 victims of ritual killings from January to October. The actual number of victims was probably higher, according to the ALCR, which noted that many ritual killings were not reported or were incorrectly characterized. During the year there were prosecutions of ritual killings as murder cases but no convictions.
Government authorities and religious leaders condemned the killings. The president and prime minister publicly called on the Ministry of Justice to push for prosecution of such cases. The president also encouraged the public to refrain from such inhumane cultural practices. In May, First Lady Sylvia Bongo Ondimba raised public awareness of the government’s concern by participating in an ALCR march against these ritual crimes.
In 2012 a court convicted Aristide Pambo Moussounda of the murder of Beverly Bilemba Mouenguela, a 12-year-old girl believed to have been the victim of a ritual killing, and sentenced him to life imprisonment. Moussounda claimed he killed the young girl at the request of former Senator Gabriel Eyeghe Ekomie. On June 10, authorities arrested Ekomie for failure to appear before a judge after he received a court order to respond to questions about his alleged involvement in the girl’s killing. He was in jail awaiting trial at year’s end.
Sexual Exploitation of Children: The law prohibits the commercial sexual exploitation of children. If convicted, perpetrators may be sentenced to between two and five years’ imprisonment.
Some children were exploited in prostitution, but the problem was reportedly not widespread.
The law prohibits lewd pictures and photographs “against the morals of society.” The penalty for possession of pornography includes possible imprisonment from six months to one year and fines up to 222,000 CFA francs ($448).
International Child Abductions: The country is a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.