By Tutu Alicante, executive director of EG Justice
My home – Equatorial Guinea – is brimming with oil. But very little of the money from that oil is being spent on schools or hospitals or new jobs. It’s being spent instead on mansions, luxury cars, private jets and pageantry contests by our government officials.
As a human rights lawyer and the executive director of EG Justice, an NGO devoted to fighting corruption in Equatorial Guinea, I’ve dedicated my whole life to change this. Today I’m asking for your help.
Right now, Big Oil is trying to stop a rule by the Securities and Exchange Commission that would require oil and gas companies to publish what they pay to governments like Equatorial Guinea. But if Big Oil wins, that means billions of dollars will likely keep lining the pockets of my country’s corrupt rulers.
You can help stop this. Tell the SEC we can’t be bullied by Big Oil. 1 click here adds your name.
The petition says:
Dear SEC Commissioners, Please don’t delay in reissuing a strong final rule – no exemptions, no loopholes – on Section 1504 of the Dodd-Frank Act. It’s what the American people expect, it’s what investors need, and it’s what the world’s poorest demand.
Just a few years ago, I was afraid to tell this story – afraid that my family back home would get hurt.
Growing up in Equatorial Guinea, I witnessed a lot of horrendous things. In 1993, there was an incident in Annobón, my hometown, where two young men were killed and several men were tortured severely. Many of the young men ran into the forest in fear, including my cousin. When the government couldn’t find him, they ransacked and destryoed our family’s house.
I asked my father what we could do, and he said there is nothing we can do; and that is how I discovered that my government could act with absolute impunity; in other words, that citizens could not hold government officials accountable in my country for egregious violations.
I came to the US a year after that, thinking I’d become a journalist. But, oil was discovered in Equatorial Guinea, and I realized that oil was going to be central to the future of my country. I wanted to understand what would happen to the revenues of that natural resource, fearing it would deepen an economic, political and social fissure. So, I became a lawyer and devoted my career to advocating for the rule of law, human rights and transparency in my country.
I feel it would be reprehensible for me to sit back and stay silent in the face of the injustice and inequality that Equatorial Guinea vividly represents. I am grateful for all that the US has done to advance transparency in the extractive industry and urge them to keep up the fight.
But, we all have to do more to protect and promote our right to know what oil companies are paying and our right to decide where that money is going.
My oil-rich country shouldn’t be home to some of the poorest in the world. Instead, it should be a model for how oil revenues eradicate poverty and lessen social inequality.
Urge the SEC to set a date, pass the rule, and not let Big Oil get in the way.