government: semi-presidential republic
state of civil and political rights: Partly free
constitution: 16 May 1984, amended on 4 May 1991, 4 December 1991, 26 February 1993, 9 June 1993, and in 1996 - constitution suspended following military coup in April 2012 and restored in 2014
legal system: mixed legal system of civil law (influenced by the early French Civil Code) and customary law
legislative system: unicameral National People's Assembly (Assembleia Nacional Popular)
judicial system: Supreme Court (Supremo Tribunal da Justica), consists of 9 justices appointed by the president; 9 Regional Courts; 24 Sectoral Courts, military court
religion: 40% Animist; 50% Muslim; 10% Christian
year of last executions: 0-0-0
death sentences: 0
international treaties on human rights and the death penalty:
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
1st Optional Protocol to the Covenant (signed only)
Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (aiming to the abolition of the death penalty)
Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (aiming to the abolition of the death penalty)(signed only)
Convention on the Rights of the Child
Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (signed only)
African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights
Statute of the International Criminal Court (which excludes the death penalty) (only signed)
Guinea Bissau abolished the death penalty for all crimes in 1993. On February of the same year the National Assembly approved constitutional amendments to the 1984 Constitution, guaranteeing fundamental human rights and abolishing the death penalty. The country had introduced the death penalty in 1974, when it gained independence from Portugal.
There was no capital punishment under colonial rule. During the 1980s, opposition to the death penalty gathered strength leading to its abolition.
The last execution in Guinea Bissau took place in 1986, when six people were executed. They had been condemned to death by the Supreme Military Court for conspiring to overthrow the government. It is reported that five other people were sentenced to death and executed for aggravated murder between 1985 and 1988.
In 1998 a bitter civil war erupted when Guinea-Bissau's first freely-elected president, former coup leader Joao Vieira, was overthrown by the army. Foreign mediation led to a truce, policed by West African peacekeepers, in 1999.
Kumba Yala was elected president in December 1999 with a 72 percent majority in elections that were generally considered free and fair. He took power in February 2000. Yala’s tenure however was characterised by sackings of ministers and other high officials, and poor financial management that led the World Bank/IMF to suspend aid. Yala repeatedly postponed new legislative elections and refused to veto or promulgate the new constitution, which was approved by the National Assembly in 2001.
He was ousted in a bloodless coup on September 14, 2003 and Henrique Rosa was chosen by the military authorities to be the head of state pending fresh presidential elections. The poll, in June 2005, returned former military ruler Joao Bernardo Vieira to power with 52% of the vote, according to election officials. The party of the beaten candidate, Malam Bacai Sanha, alleged fraud and rival supporters clashed in Bissau, but EU election observers declared the poll free and fair. President Vieira took office in October 2005.
On 24 September 2013, the Government of Guinea-Bissau ratified the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) aiming at the abolition of the death penalty. However, the Government of Guinea-Bissau declared that its declaration, which was made in accordance with Article 41 of the ICCPR to recognize the competence of the Human Rights Committee to receive and consider communications when a State Party claims that another State Party is not fulfilling its obligations, does not extend to the provisions of the Second Optional Protocol as provided in Article 4 thereof. It also declared that the competence that Guinea-Bissau recognizes for the Human Rights Committee to receive and consider communications from individuals subject to its jurisdiction does not extend to the provisions of the Second Optional Protocol, in accordance with the option provided in Article 5 thereof.
On December 16, 2020, Guinea-Bissau co-sponsored and voted again in favour of the Resolution on a Moratorium on the Use of the Death Penalty at the UN General Assembly, as in 2016 and 2018. It was absent during the vote in 2007.