By Enyichukwu Enemanna
Equatorial Guinea’s new penal code assented to by the President, Teodoro Obiang has scrapped law prescribing punishment by death for convicted offenders.
Obiang who has been accused by campaign groups and foreign powers of torture, arbitrary detentions and sham trials had said in 2019 that he would propose a law to end capital punishment.
The new criminal code comes into effect eight years after the last executions took place in the country with a population of about 1.4 million split between a mainland on the Central African coast and an island in the Gulf of Guinea.
Obiang’s son, Vice-President Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, described the abolition as “historical and memorable”.
“I write it with capital letters to seal this unique moment,” he tweeted on Monday. “EQUATORIAL GUINEA HAS ABOLISHED THE DEATH PENALTY.”
Capital punishment remains legal in just over 30 African countries, but more than 20 of those have not carried out executions for at least 10 years, according to data provider Statista.
Obiang, 80, has ruled Equatorial Guinea, a former Spanish colony, since he seized power in a coup in 1979, making him the world’s longest-serving president in office.