Awarding the tyrant

Tuesday 31 July 2012

Award>> Life Sciences ÔÇó Equatorial Guinea

imageHuman rights groups have condemned UNESCO as “shameful and utterly irresponsible” for awarding a prize sponsored by one of Africa’s most authoritarian rulers. The $3 million award, presented to three scientists on July 17, is funded by Equatorial Guinea’s president, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo. The West African leader is accused of rights abuses and corruption, which he denies. “Beyond letting itself be used to polish the sullied image of Obiang, UNESCO risks ruining its own credibility,” said Tutu Alicante, director of the pan African human rights group EG Justice.

Launched in 2008, the award was initially called “UNESCO-Obiang prize”, but following protests it was changed to “UNESCO-Equatorial Guinea International Prize for Research in the Life Sciences”.

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