US sanctions ex-Guinea leader, Mali politician for right abuses

The US sanctions freeze assests including those of Guinea’s former President Conde and Mali’s former President Keita’s son.

Alpha Conde
Guinea's Alpha Conde was overthrown in a military coup last September [File: Benoit Tessier/Reuters]

The United States has imposed sanctions on more than 40 people and entities for alleged rights abuses from nine countries, including Guinea’s former President Alpha Conde and Karim Keita, son of former Malian leader Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, Karim Keita.

In a statement released on Friday, the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) said the announcement was the outcome of a thorough and multiyear investigation.

Conde, who was deposed in a coup in September 2021, was sanctioned for his “connection to serious human rights abuses”.

In 2010, Conde became Guinea’s first democratically elected leader and was re-elected for a controversial third term after a constitutional referendum 10 years later. His presidency was bogged by allegations of endemic corruption and serial human rights abuses.

In May, Guinea’s attorney general ordered legal proceedings against Conde and 26 of his former officials for alleged crimes, including acts of violence while in office. The charges range from complicity in murder and assault to destruction of property.

According to the statement released by the US Embassy in Guinea, Conde’s security forces engaged in violence against opposition supporters and “the government arbitrarily arrested and detained opposition members” in 2020.

Meanwhile, Keita served as the president of the Security and Defense Commission of the National Assembly in Mali from February 2014 until his father was overthrown in an August 2020 coup. He used his position to receive bribes, embezzle government funds and remove other officials who did not support his actions, the US said.

Keita was also allegedly involved in the abduction, torture, and murder of reporter Birama Toure who was investigating his involvement in corruption.

“Corrupt actors and human rights abusers both rely on deficiencies in the international financial system to perpetrate their activities,” Brian Nelson, the undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in another statement on Friday.

“Over the past year, the Treasury has made combatting corruption and serious human rights abuse a top priority, including through the use of financial sanctions and addressing vulnerabilities in the US and international financial systems. By exposing the egregious behavior of these actors, we can help disrupt their activities, dismantle their networks, and starve them of resources,” he added.

The announced sanctions freeze any US assets of the affected persons and bar US citizens from dealing with them.

Individuals and entities from North Korea, El Salvador, Guatemala, Iran, Philippines, Russia, the Tibetan autonomous region of China, and elsewhere were also included in the sanctions list.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies