Jan. 4, 2015 by Darius
The government of Equatorial Guinea on the west coast of Central Africa is among the most corrupt in the world. Despite the fact that the country technically has Africa’s highest per-capita GDP, the vast majority of the population is grindingly poor. Instead of helping its people, the country’s considerable oil revenues go towards massive spending sprees for the dictator, Teodoro Obiang (who has been in power since 1979) and his family. It’s time to treat leaders like Obiang as human rights violators for their rampant corruption.
There can be no doubt that corruption kills. Every dollar diverted to offshore accounts or spent on luxury cars is a dollar that doesn’t go to the health care, education, and infrastructure the country desperately needs. Globally, 20,000 people die every day from extreme poverty. The vast majority of these deaths are in countries that face rampant corruption. This is not coincidence.
It’s not like we don’t have the information to track corruption, either. The US Justice Department has tracked Obiang’s corruption extensively. Non-governmental organizations like Transparency International and Global Witness produce well-documented evaluations of corruption as well.
It has become somewhat passé for the US to embrace human rights violators (not that we’ve stopped doing it). The same stigma, though, does not yet apply to US allies that are massively corrupt. It should. Government corruption might not have the same kind of shock value as mass killings of protesters, but it kills just the same. It’s time to make corrupt leaders pay the penalty they deserve for their corruption and tag them as human rights violators.