Equatorial Guinea, one of the most authoritarian countries in the world, has abolished the death penalty, state television announced on Monday citing a new law signed by President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo.
Capital punishment has been “totally abolished” in the oil-rich central African country after the president signed a new penal code, shared on Twitter by the vice president.
The last official execution in the small country took place in 2014, according to Amnesty International, but international NGOs and the United Nations regularly accuse the regime of enforced disappearances, arbitrary detention and torture.
The death penalty remains legal in more than 30 African countries, although only around half have executed people in recent years.
“I write in capital letters to seal this unique moment: ‘EQUATORIAL GUINEA HAS ABOLISHED THE DEATH PENALTY'”, tweeted Vice President Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, one of the sons of the Head of State and considered his probable successor.
A state television reporter called the event “historic for our country” in a brief announcement at the end of a newscast.
The measure will come into effect within 90 days of its publication in the official state gazette and was approved in advance by parliament, where all but one of the 100 MPs represent the ruling party.
President Obiang, 80, has spent more than 43 years in power, a world record outside monarchies.
Equatorial Guinea has significant oil and gas resources, but the vast majority of its 1.3 million people live below the poverty line, according to the World Bank.