Equatorial Guinea Becomes 25th African Country to Abolish Death Penalty

Equatorial Guinea has abolished the death penalty, becoming the 25th African nation to end capital punishment and the fourth in the past two years. According to state television reports, on September 19, 2022, President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo signed into law a new criminal code that removes the death penalty from the statute books of the central African nation of 1.3 million people on the continent’s Atlantic coast.

The new law is considered a major reform for one of the world’s most authoritarian nations. Obiang, whose regime has repeatedly been accused of forced disappearances, arbitrary detention, and torture, has governed the country more than 43 years since taking power in a military coup in 1979.

Obiang’s son, Vice President Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, who is considered his likely successor, announced the adoption of the new law in social media postings that said: “I am writing in capitals to seal this unique moment: ‘EQUATORIAL GUINEA HAS ABOLISHED THE DEATH PENALTY’.” The law, which was overwhelmingly approved by the one-party parliament, takes effect 90 days after its formal publication in the official state journal.

in a statement issued September 20, Acting U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Nada Al-Nashif “welcome[d] the adoption of a new penal code in Equatorial Guinea abolishing the death penalty. The death penalty,” she said, “is incompatible with fundamental tenets of human rights and dignity.”

Equatorial Guinea last carried out a judicially sanctioned execution in 2014. It joins a growing abolition movement on the African continent. In May 2022, the Central African Republic adopted legislation to abolish the death penalty and Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema commuted the sentences of 30 death-row prisoners and announced that he was submitting a bill to parliament to end capital punishment. In July 2021, the Sierra Leone parliament voted unanimously to abolish the death penalty and Chad abolished the death penalty for all crimes in May 2020.