On October 13, 2011, Teodoro Nguema Obiang, the son of the President of Equatorial Guinea, was appointed to serve as Equatorial Guinea’s Deputy Permanent Delegate to UNESCO.
The same Mr. Obiang, also known as Teodorin, is currently under investigation in the "biens mal acquis" case, a judicial inquiry into alleged corruption and money laundering in France by several African ruling families.
He was appointed to the position at UNESCO just two weeks after police seized some 15 luxury cars he owned in connection with the investigation. His appointment may confer diplomatic immunity and impede the progress of the investigation. This raises serious questions about the government of Equatorial Guinea’s motives for nominating him.
This small West-Central African petro-state has the highest per capita income in Africa, comparable to that of Spain, yet the majority of the population has no access to drinking water or electricity, let alone education and health care. Meanwhile, the ruling class, especially Teodorin, lead lives of outrageous luxury.
It is unacceptable that an international organization like UNESCO should be exploited to obstruct justice. The French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs has the power to oppose Teodorin Nguema Obiang’s appointment.
Help allow judges to continue their investigation into the ill-gotten gains of Teodorín without obstacles: sign the petition!
- French Foreign Ministry
Given the ongoing court proceedings into the alleged illicit assets of the Obiang family not only in France, but also in Spain and the United States;
Given the doubts surrounding Equatorial Guinea’s motivations for appointing Teodoro Obiang Nguema to the post of Deputy Permanent Delegate to UNESCO;
Given that the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of Specialized Agencies, the Headquarters Agreement between France and UNESCO, and the Vienna Convention expressly state that privileges and immunities are granted to their beneficiaries for the interest of the organization and not for their personal benefit;
I ask Mr. Lawrence STEFANINI, Chief of Protocol of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, to refuse to endorse the appointment and declare Mr. Teodoro Obiang Nguema persona non grata, as permitted by international law (Articles 7 and 9 of the Vienna Convention), and to guarantee that France will fulfill its international commitments in the fight against corruption and money laundering - foremost among them the United Nations Convention against Corruption.
I also call on Ms. Irina Bokova, Director General of UNESCO, to do everything in her power to oppose this nomination, given her self-proclaimed "responsibility to protect [the] status and credibility" of UNESCO. In particular, I ask her to speak up against this appointment and invite Member States to use all possible methods to oppose it.
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