One Big Thing: Should the U.S. take legal action against Kleptocrats in Central Africa?
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What is it?
- Netflix’s The Tiger King documentary paints the picture of exotic animal breeding in the U.S. by following eccentric zoo owner, Joe Exotic. In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), former president and current Senator-for-life Joseph Kabila doesn’t own any tigers but he keeps lions, elephants, rhinos, crocodiles, giraffes, and a 4-meter python on his private estate. This is just one small part of the fortune containing over 80 companies he amassed during his 18-year reign.
- Similarly, Cameroon’s President Paul Biya is known to frequent the Intercontinental Hotel in Geneva while his people live on less than $2 per day. This is just another example of how kleptocracy has run rampart within Central Africa’s cohort of authoritarian dictators.
- The Republic of Congo is Africa’s third largest oil producer but government mismanagement and corruption has seen over $50 million laundered into the private bank accounts of President Denis Sassou-Nguesso.
- Transparency International ranks DRC, Republic of Congo, Cameroon all within the bottom 15% percentile in regards to corruption and governmental accountability.
Why is it important?
- All over Central Africa authoritarian kleptocrats have institutionalized corruption to strip their citizens and countries of anything of value to enlarge their own personal coffers. This has led to the governmental distrust, widespread poverty, and constant insecurity that exist throughout Central Africa.
- Many of the corrupt dictators are benefitting from the product of human rights violations and frequently enjoy spending their ill-gained money in the U.S. and Europe. While the U.S. Treasury and State Department have imposed sanctions, more could be done from the business side to disincentivize central African corruption.
- Many of the minerals in our cell phone batteries and electric car batteries manufactured today are the product of corrupt practices in Central Africa. Through this, we indirectly benefit from kleptocracy each day.
What can you do?
- See what how your daily routine is affected by the products of kleptocracy and how manifests in Central Africa from the Sentry Project
- See Congressional legislation aimed to curb kleptocracy and learn more about how the existing Global Magnitsky Act can be used to sanction corrupt individuals.
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