Thursday, May 7, 2009
Corruption and poor governance are generally recognized as a key obstacle to achieving the Millennium Development Goals, ecological sustainability, social equity, and economic development as well as realizing human rights in many developing countries. The problem has been that the weapons that the United States and other governments have used against corrupt leaders who plunder their countries' resources and violate their citizens' human rights were relatively blunt: military invasion, assassination, promotion of coup d'etat, suspension of trade and aid, etc. But yesterday a French judge opened a judicial investigation about corruption of three African leaders. So another, more nuanced weapon has been added to our collective arsenal.
Meanwhile, the Europeans aren't just taking African leaders to task. Spain is also investigating lawyers and others from the Bush administration regarding their roles in approving torture tactics against alleged terrorist suspects. Certainly we all know that the leaders of developing countries have no monopoly on corruption or human rights violations!
As posted in Intl Law Girls,
Reuters reports from Paris that a French juge d'instruction has opened an investigation into whether assets held by the Presidents of 3 oil-rich African countries came to them by way of public corruption.
► Teodoro Obiang Nguema, Equatorial Guinea's President since 1979, and family: At least 1 property, 1 bank account, and more than 4 million euros worth of luxury vehicles. Among them is the Rolls-Royce Phantom limousine depicted above, said to have been bought by Obiang's son. (photo credit) Obiang has been dubbed among the few "African despots who make Robert Mugabe seem stable and benign" by The Independent of London.
► Denis Sassou-Nguesso, since 1979 the President of the Republic of Congo (commonly called Congo-Brazzaville to distinguish it from the neighboring state whose capital is Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of Congo): 24 properties, 112 bank accounts, and more than 172,000 euros worth of luxury vehicles. In Sassou-Nguesso's country, slavery of 1 ethnic group by another is reported to persist.
'This is a decision without precedent, because it is the first time that a judicial investigation has been opened concerning the alleged misappropriation of public funds by incumbent heads of state. From now on it is possible to identify and pursue those who, repeatedly and deceitfully, impoverish their own countries.'