Portugal and Cape Verde press Equatorial Guinea to abolish the death penalty

Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema

Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa said last Saturday that if Equatorial Guinea wants to remain in the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries (CPLP) “it has to be reviewed” in a “common framework” of values that does not admit the existence of the sentence of death.

Costa spoke at the end of the V Luso-Cabo-Verdiana Summit in Lisbon. For both countries, the policy of the CPLP is currently underway. Cape Verde holds the rotating presidency and Portugal holds the executive secretariat.

Both in Costa’s speech and in his Cape Verdean counterpart, Ulisses Correia e Silva, the situation in Equatorial Guinea was present. This old Spanish colony became a full member of the CPLP in July 2014, by means of an “adhesion roadmap”. This included the dissemination of Portuguese as the official language and forced the abolition of the death penalty, a measure not yet ratified by President Teodoro Obiang Nguema (the longest-lived African leader since 1979 and the longest-serving president in the world).

The issue of the death penalty is the most symbolic violation of human rights in Equatorial Guinea, but other violations of rights and freedoms mark everyday life. One of them, recent, has already led to a position of Portuguese diplomacy: the imprisonment (in Chad) of Andrés Esono Ondo, secretary general of the Convergence for Social Democracy of Equatorial Guinea, opposition movement to Obiang. Esono Ondo was detained without any formal charge.

Last Saturday, the Portuguese MFA asked for a “full clarification” of that situation, demanding that “legality” be observed.

In the presence of the Prime Minister of Cape Verde, António Costa left a message to Obiang about the nature of the CPLP: “We are a community based on the values of freedom, democracy, respect for human rights and human dignity, which is absolutely incompatible with the existence of the death penalty in any of the member countries, “said the Portuguese prime minister.

Ulisses Correia e Silva said at the end of the summit that next week, when he receives Obiang in his country, he will address the issue of the death penalty with him. “Belonging to the CPLP, we must share fundamental and important values, not only for Cape Verde, but for what we understand to be the aspiration of the community: values of democracy, freedom, democratic rule of law, free citizenship,” said Correia and Silva.

António Costa stressed that the final declaration of the summit “explicitly refers” to the “CPLP is a democratic area, respectful of the rule of law and without penalty of death”.

Teodoro Obiang Nguema and his Government are accused by various civil society organizations of constant violations of human rights and persecution of opponents.