Betraying Human Rights: From Ivory Coast to Nicaragua

Stephen Sefton

Events in Venezuela this year have exposed more than ever the crisis of competence and credibility in the global institutional structures charged with upholding and defending human rights . In January, Idriss Jazairy the UN Human Rights Council’s Special Rapporteur on the effects of economic sanctions reinforced the condemnation of US policy against Venezuela in the report of September last year by former UN Special Rapporteur on Venezuela, Alfred de Zayas. The views of Jazairy and de Zayas clash diametrically with the views of the Inter-American Human Rights Commission and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Their disagreement is just one example of how irreparably broken the international human rights system has now become.

Other examples abound. On January 15th the International Criminal Court finally cut short almost eight years of cynical delaying tactics by their prosecutor Fatsou Bensouda so as to acquit Laurent Gbagbo, former President of Ivory Coast. His acquittal highlighted the ICC’s neocolonial role as an opportunist fixer, processing human rights cases presented to the ICC by Western governments, based on distortions and falsehoods in reports by Western media and NGOs, effectively camouflaging North American and European sadism and hypocrisy. During the decade prior to the 2011 crisis, Ivory Coast suffered low intensity terrorist attrition organized by France and its allies strikingly similar to the US-organized 1980s terror campaigns against Nicaragua, Angola and Mozambique.

Early in 2011, the UN mission to Ivory Coast, supported by over 1500 French troops colluding with local opposition militias, facilitated the takeover of Ivory Coast by France’s proxy Alassane Ouattara. The campaign saw several massacres by Ouattara’s militias, effectively protected by UN forces, of which the most notorious took place at Duekoue. But it was Laurent Gbagbo who ended up on trial. Subsequent events in Ivory Coast, Mali, Central African Republic, Burkina Faso and Cameroon have signaled a resurgence of direct European  intervention in former colonies, exploited by means of Western neocolonial control of trade and finance ever since formal decolonization in the last century.

Gbagbo’s acquittal is a categorical indictment of Western double standards since, even though the ICC admitted they had no case, the Court, irremediably subject to the neocolonial agenda of the European Union, still imposed precautionary measures impeding Gbagbo’s return to his own country. These and related events in Africa, most notoriously in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, resonate vividly in current US efforts to reimpose its neocolonial control of Latin America and the Caribbean. As the European powers have always done in Africa, in Latin America and the Caribbean too, the US and allied governments, their media and NGO’s have manipulated human rights motifs so as to help impose the political outcomes they want.

That has long been the case in Western attacks on Cuba, whose recent consultation and voting process to reform the country’s Constitution has vindicated the country’s revolutionary model. As an exercise in grass roots democracy involving over 130,000 public meetings, Cuba’s democracy puts Western representative democracy to shame. Likewise, continuing attacks on Venezuela also involve false accusations of human rights abuses based, for example, on self serving interpretations of due legal process against violent coup mongers like Leopoldo López. So called “false positives” like the blatant fabrications in the sinister events at frontier crossings with Colombia and Brazil last February 23rd are also a permanent feature of bogus Western human rights concerns.

Within this global and regional context Western human rights NGOs have brazenly falsified their reporting on human rights so as to favor the neocolonial political agenda of the Western corporate elites that fund them. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are probably the best known culprits, but they are enthusiastically abetted by other corporate funded NGOs like Global Witness or Frontline Defenders. These and many other Western NGOs focus extremely damaging false reporting on governments resisting the demands of the United States and its allies while conversely tending to play down abuses in countries regarded as what might be termed West-compliant.

Here in Nicaragua, this kind of NGO false reporting has now been meticulously exposed  in a counter-report analyzing Amnesty International’s failure to report truthfully on the failed attempted coup in Nicaragua between April and July last year. The report, Dismissing the Truth, focuses on various human rights violations exposing Amnesty International’s sloppy, selective methodology and its discredited and outdated theoretical framework. This demolition of Amnesty International’s credibility applies equally to the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights and to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Both those institutions used exactly the same unreliable sources as Amensty Intrnational, departed from the same false presuppositions and deliberately, selectively and consistently ignored incontrovertible evidence contradicting their false reports.

All of this is also true of all these organizations attacks on Venezuela’s government. What is special about Dismissing the Truth is its meticulous demonstration of Amnesty International’s categorical failure to report truthfully on Nicaragua. As Camilo Mejía points out in the introduction, what characterized the attack on Nicaragua’s government from April to July in 2018 was “a pattern of death and destruction carried out by the opposition that was completely ignored by AI’s two reports: Shoot to Kill and Instilling Terror.” Mejía goes on to make the point that “the real tragedy is not that we may no longer trust AI or others to tell us the truth, but that we have ceded our own agency, our own ability to question dominant narratives, and have chosen instead to blindly trust what powerful entities tell us”.