News / Africa

Calls to Scrap UN Prize Funded by Equatorial Guinea's Leader

Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema. (file photo)
Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema. (file photo)
Lisa Bryant

Rights groups and Nobel Peace Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu are calling on a U.N. body to scrap a prize bankrolled by Equatorial Guinea's longtime leader, Teodoro Obiang Nguema.  The demand comes as officials probe property belonging to Mr. Obiang's family in France.

The Paris-based United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO will discuss in the coming days whether to abolish the Obiang science prize that offers $300,000 to the winning researcher. Outrage is growing over the award, because it is named after and funded by Equatorial Guinea's autocratic and allegedly corrupt president, Teodoro Obiang Nguema.

South African Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu has joined seven rights groups, including Human Rights Watch, in demanding the award be abolished.  Jean-Marie Fardeau is head of Human Rights Watch France.

"It's really a shameful regime which carries a lot of responsibility regarding the situation in its country," said Fardeau.

Resource-rich Equatorial Guinea is one of Africa's wealthiest countries in statistical terms, yet its population is largely dirt poor.  UNESCO officials would not comment on the issue, pending a decision on the award.

But Fardeau says a number of UNESCO members want the prize abolished, amid a growing intolerance of corruption and dictatorship.

"It's not just a Western view," he said. "It really is from Equatorial Guinea - people are claiming to get back the money which was used in an unsatisfactory way by their president and his family, because the money is used in our countries, the money is put in our banks, there is now apparently a political willingness to fight this level of corruption."

The controversy coincides with a probe into property belonging to Mr. Obiang's family in France.  Earlier this month, French police searched and seized property from the luxurious Paris residence of his son, Teodoro Obiang Mangue, who is Equatorial Guinea's deputy ambassador to UNESCO.  In September, French officials also seized nearly a dozen luxury cars owned by the family.

Obiang family lawyer Olivier Pardo told France's RTL radio that the seizures violated international law. The family claims the Paris residence is used for diplomatic purposes.

The probe is part of a larger French  investigation into luxury real estate and other property belonging to the families of several African leaders, including Mr. Obiang.  Rights groups claim they used public funds from some of the world's poorest countries to pay for the goods.

You May Like

Ukraine Purges Interior Ministry Leadership With Pro-Russian Ties

Interior Minister Avakov says 91 people 'in positions of leadership' have been fired, including 8 generals found to have links to past pro-Moscow governments More

US Airlines Point to Additional Problems of any Ebola Travel Ban

Airline officials note that even under travel ban, they may not be able to determine where passenger set out from, as there are no direct flights from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone More

Nigerian President to Seek Another Term

Goodluck Jonathan has faced intense criticism for failing to stop Boko Haram militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid