US to increase International Military Education & Training (IMET) for Equatorial Guinea

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The United States Government plans to provide $500,000 in International Military Education & Training (IMET) to the Government of Equatorial Guinea this fiscal year, according to a State Department spokesperson. This marks a $102,000 increase over the previous fiscal year.

The United States Government is moving ahead with these plans in spite of serious concerns about the commitment of the Government of Equatorial Guinea to human rights and fundamental freedoms. These include credible reports of “torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment by or on behalf” of the Government of Equatorial Guinea.

The United States Government looks set to increase IMET to Equatorial Guinea for a second year in a row. According to a State Department spokesperson, the United States Government provided $398 000 in IMET in Fiscal Year 2023 and $175,00 in Fiscal Year 2022.

Last year’s increase does not appear to have had much of an effect on the commitment of the Government of Equatorial Guinea to human rights and fundamental freedoms.

In the 2023 Equatorial Guinea Human Rights Report, the United States Department of State determined that there were “no significant changes in the human rights situation in Equatorial Guinea during the year.”

Equatorial Guinea remains one of the “worst of the worst” when it comes to political rights and civil liberties, according to Freedom House.

The continuation of IMET to the Government of Equatorial Guinea risks stirring controversy.

In the 2023 Trafficking in Human Persons Report, the State Department determined that the Government of Equatorial Guinea does not meet the minimum standards set forth under US law for countering the trafficking in persons nor is making a significant effort to do so.

That determination not only put Equatorial Guinea in the same Tier 3 classification as the likes of Afghanistan, Belarus, Burma, China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Russia, South Sudan, Syria, and Venezuela. It triggered a restriction on direct foreign assistance.

According to a State Department spokesperson, President Joe Biden decided to partially waive that restriction for the current fiscal year.

Armed with that Presidential waiver, the United States Government is allowed to provide IMET, Development Assistance, Economic Support Funds, Global Health Program, and Peacekeeping Operations funding, and vote to approve loans or other utilization of International Financial Institution (IFI) funds.

Michael Walsh is a freelance foreign correspondent.