See All The African Countries That Have Abolished The Death Penalty

President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo (Photo credit TRT World)
President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo (Photo credit TRT World)

The president of Equatorial Guinea Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo has signed a new penal code into law. This new penal code puts an end to the death penalty in one of the globeโ€™s most authoritarian countries. The development was announced on state television on Monday 19 September 2022.

Teodoro Obiang Mangue, one of the vice presidents of the country and the presidentโ€™s son also disclosed this on Twitter. The last official execution in the country was in 2014, according to Amnesty International.

โ€œI am writing in capitals to seal this unique moment: โ€˜EQUATORIAL GUINEA HAS ABOLISHED THE DEATH PENALTYโ€™,โ€ Mangue tweeted. The vice president is also tipped to succeed his father who has spent over 43 years in power.

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However, the United Nations and international NGOs still accuse Mbasogoโ€™s administration of arbitrary torture, imprisonment, and forced disappearances. The new law was approved by parliament in advance and will come into effect 90 days after its publication in the official state journal.

The growing list of African countries that have abolished the death penalty

Equatorial Guinea is not the first African country to put an end to capital punishment on the African continent. However, the decision by President Mbasogoโ€™s government adds to the growing number of African countries that have abolished the death penalty.

Chad approved the end of the death penalty in 2020. Sierra Leone took the same decision the following year and the Central African Republic joined the train in May 2022. The death penalty remains legal in over 30 African countries. However, state executions in recent years have only occurred in a few states.

Amnesty International continues to call for the abolition of the death penalty around the globe. According to the international organization, the death penalty goes against human rights, calling it โ€œcruel, inhuman, and degrading punishmentโ€.

Death penalty including sentence and executions recorded from 2015 to 2021 (Photo credit: Amnesty International)
Death penalty including sentences and executions recorded from 2015 to 2021 (Photo credit: Amnesty International)

China, Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Syria currently lead the world in the most executions. According to Amnesty International, China is the leading executioner.

However, it is unclear the extent death penalty is used because the data is classified as a state secret. In 2021, there were 579 executions, excluding the thousands secretly carried out in China.

S/NAfrican countries that have abolished the death penaltyYear
1Cape Verde 1981
2Angola 1992
3Guinea-Bissau1993
4Seychelles1993
5Djibouti 1995
6Mauritius1995
7South Africa1997
8Ivory Coast2000
9Liberia2005
10Rwanda2007
11Burundiย 2009
12Togoย 2009
13Gabonย 2010
14Beninย 2010
15Congoย 2015
16Madagascar2015
17Guinea2016ย for ordinary crimes
2017 for military
18Kenya2017
19Burkina Faso2018
20Chad2020ย 
21Sierra Leone2021
22Central African Republic2022
23Equatorial Guinea2022

Abolition of the death penalty will stall corruption fight

Vice president of Equatorial Guinea Teodoro Obiang Mangue announced the abolition of death penalty on his Twitter handle (Photo credit France 24)
Vice president of Equatorial Guinea Teodoro Obiang Mangue announced the abolition of the death penalty on his Twitter handle (Photo credit: France 24)

While the signing of the new penal code by President Mbasogo was widely heralded as historic, there are those that believe it will stall the fight against corruption. Those in this school of thought believe that the death penalty for corruption is the only thing that can deter African politicians.

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In July 2021, Franceโ€™s highest appeal court found Teodoro Obiang Mangue guilty of embezzlement. In absentia, he was handed a three-year suspended sentence and fined $33 million. Also, luxury assets belonging to the vice president including a luxury mansion were seized.

Equatorial Guinea has a substantial oil reserve. However, the vast majority of its 1.4 million population live in poverty, according to data from the World Bank.

While the abolition of the death penalty is laudable, it may just be that Mbasogoโ€™s government is paving the future for officials and close allies of the family that may be convicted in the future. Without a doubt, Africa needs tougher regulations to fight corruption.

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