GENEVA, May 13, 2019 — Following last week’s glowing reviews of North Korea, DR Congo, and Brunei’s human rights records, the UN Human Rights Council gathered today to applaud the human rights situation in Equatorial Guinea, where the current president has been in power since a brutal military coup in 1979. (See quotes below.)
While the mandatory review exercise is meant to scrutinize all nations once every five years in order to improve the lives of victims, most countries who took the floor, in what is a peer review process, chose not to speak against Equatorial Guinea’s arbitrary killings, denial of free and fair elections, censorship of journalists and detention of opposition politicians.
According to a count by UN Watch, 57 out of 82 countries that spoke today praised the regime, or 70 percent.
An additional 17 countries expressed some praise for the authoritarian regime’s alleged achievements, while also applying scrutiny in their statements. If one includes these statements, then 74 out of 82 countries, or 90 percent, expressed praise for the government.
Representing Equatorial Guinea at the UN session was Alfonso Nsue Mokuy, Equatorial Guinea’s third human rights minister, who claimed the government respected the rights of civil society and freedom of the press.
“Equatorial Guinea encourages independent media, and journalists are able to act in freedom without restraint,” he said. “No journalist is persecuted. No journalist is in detention.”
Following is a selection of the praise of Equatorial Guinea at today’s review:
Nicaragua: “We recognize the exemplary actions by authorities.”
China: “We welcome human rights efforts.”
Sudan: Equatorial Guinea is “committed to cooperate with human rights mechanisms.”
North Korea: “We positively note that the government has made sincere efforts and progress.”
Egypt: “We commend efforts to reduce violence against women.”
Libya: “We applaud positive developments.”
Burundi: “We commend efforts to provide quality health services and education for all.”
Burkina Faso: “Efforts have led to a legislative and institutional framework that bolsters efforts on the ground.”
Nigeria: “Efforts in strengthening the legal framework in the human rights field are commendable.”
Myanmar: “We commend achievements in education.”
Venezuela: We welcome the “great distinguished delegation.”
Philippines: We are “pleased to note the adoption of measures for health care and for persons with disabilities.”
Uganda: “We commend the government for progress made to improve human rights.”
Qatar: “We note our “appreciation for the government’s efforts in promoting human rights.”
Zimbabwe: Equatorial Guinea “has boosted budgetary allocations to improve the quality of life.”
However, a minority of countries—including the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Brazil, and Costa Rica—rightly called out the regime for its intimidation of civil society, restrictions on the media and use of torture.