August 31, 2010 / 6:22 AM / in 7 years

US criticizes Eq Guinea execution of coup plotters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States on Monday expressed deep concern over Equatorial Guinea’s execution of four former military officers for treason, saying their summary convictions by a military tribunal failed to meet minimum human rights standards.

“While we respect Equatorial Guinea’s right to defend its national security, the trial failed to meet minimum international human rights guarantees,” State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told a news briefing.

“The government of Equatorial Guinea must commit itself to upholding the rights guaranteed by its own constitution, and its obligations under international human rights law,” Crowley said.

The tiny oil-rich African nation, which is trying to clean up its image as one of the continent’s most corrupt and repressive countries, on Friday confirmed the execution of the former officers, who were convicted of an armed attack on its presidential palace last year.

Equatorial Guinea’s armed forces repelled gunmen in motorboats who tried to storm President Teodoro Obiang Nguema’s palace in February 2009.

Obiang said the men represented an “imminent danger” to him and his family and said he hoped the United States and the rest of the world would understand why justice was swift.

Obiang’s government, which benefits from oil output at 300,000 barrels a day, was listed 12th from the bottom in a list of 180 countries ranked by their efforts to stamp out graft by Berlin-based Transparency International in 2009.

With oil reserves in decline, Obiang this year promised to introduce reforms to the country and to improve its human rights record.

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