On April 1, 2014, Tutu Alicante, Executive Director of EG Justice, testified before the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights in Brussels. His testimony followed an advocacy mission in Geneva where Equatoguinean civil society representatives met with various UN delegations to discuss recent human rights developments in Equatorial Guinea.
Tutu first testified before the European Parliament via teleconference in July 2013. Incidentally, this Subcommittee hearing took place at the same time President Obiang was visiting Brussels to promote business relationships between European and Equatorial Guinea enterprises.
In his testimony, Tutu highlighted the contrast between the Equatorial Guinea President Obiang touts as ripe for investment – a country with no poverty or human rights violations – and the true Equatorial Guinea, where poverty and corruption are rampant and basic freedoms are squashed with impunity. Tutu cited numerous cases of Equatoguineans who were retaliated against for speaking out against the government, including Alfredo Okenve, a human rights defender, Wenceslao Mansogo, a political activist, and Ponciano Mbomio, a lawyer. Tutu also emphasized the cases of Cipriano Nguema Mba, a Belgian refugee—kidnapped in Nigeria—currently held incommunicado inside Equatorial Guinea, and that of Roberto Berardi, an Italian business man incarcerated since February 2013, at the request of Teodorin Nguema Obiang, son of the President and Vice President in charge of defense.
Finally, Tutu recommended European Parliament send a fact-finding mission to Equatorial Guinea in 2015, increase scrutiny of illicitly acquired assets stashed in European banks, and support civil society and political reform initiatives. He urged European nations to “stop rolling out the red carpet” for the Obiang regime in European countries, and send a clear message that human rights and the rule of law takes precedence over business interests.