Nine Angolan Fishermen Repatriated from Gabon Following Detention
The Angolan government recently oversaw the repatriation of several of its citizens detained in Libreville, Gabon.
Among those repatriated were nine fishermen, who had been held in the Central Prison of Libreville on charges of illegal fishing. The repatriation process was facilitated through negotiations between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MIREX) of Angola and the Gabonese authorities, with the Angolan Embassy in Gabon lending its support.
Illegal Fishing Charges and Legal Changes
The repatriated individuals were part of a larger group of 16 fishermen from the Angolan province of Cabinda. They were apprehended by Gabonese authorities in August of the previous year for allegedly conducting illegal fishing activities in Gabonese territorial waters. The Gabonese authorities have introduced new laws in 2021, designating certain areas of Gabon’s territorial waters as “prohibited zones” and “national parks”, making fishing in these regions a public offence.
Geographical Proximity and Boundary Confusion
The close geographical proximity and maritime contiguity between Angola and Gabon have led to an increase in instances of “illegal Angolan fishermen”. These fishermen, utilizing rudimentary and artisanal boats without any navigational instruments, inadvertently end up crossing the maritime boundary and fishing in the now prohibited zones of Gabon.
Repatriation and Continued Efforts
The repatriation of the detained fishermen was facilitated by the Angolan government, which provided an aircraft from the National Air Force (FAN) for this purpose. MIREX has indicated that it will continue its efforts to secure the release and subsequent repatriation of the remaining Angolan fishermen currently detained in Gabon.
Repatriation of Deceased National
In addition to the fishermen, the remains of an Angolan national, João Lelo Tula, were also repatriated. Tula had passed away due to illness while in a detention center in Libreville, Gabon. His remains were returned to his home country as part of the same repatriation effort.
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