Equatorial Guinea has abolished the death sentence, making it the 25th African country to do so and the fourth in the last two years. 

What’s going on
President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo signed a new criminal code into law on September 19, 2022, removing the death sentence from the statute books of the central African nation of 1.3 million inhabitants on the continent’s Atlantic coast.

Why this matter
The new law is regarded as a significant reform for one of the world’s most repressive countries. Obiang, whose administration has been routinely accused of torture, arbitrary incarceration, and forced disappearances, has ruled the country for more than 43 years, having seized power in a military coup in 1979.

Obiang’s son, Vice President Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, who is widely regarded as his future successor, announced the new law on social media, writing, “I am writing in capitals to cement this historic moment: ‘EQUATORIAL GUINEA HAS ABOLISHED THE DEATH PENALTY.'” The law, which was overwhelmingly supported by the one-party legislature, goes into effect 90 days after it is officially published in the official state journal.

What you should know
Equatorial Guinea last carried out a court-ordered execution in 2014. It joins the African continent’s burgeoning abolitionist movement. 

In May 2022, the Central African Republic passed legislation to abolish the death penalty, while Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema commuted the sentences of 30 death-row inmates and said that he will introduce legislation to abolish the death penalty in parliament. Sierra Leone’s parliament voted unanimously to abolish the death sentence in July 2021, and Chad repealed the death penalty for all offences in May 2020.

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