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Arusha, March 19, 2007(FH) - The members present at the Chamber of Deputies in Rwanda on Friday unanimously adopted the “advisability” of the planned law abolishing the death penalty for all crimes, including those stemming from the 1994 genocide, the Hirondelle Agency learned on Sunday. “The advisability of the planned law has been adopted: the text will now be examined by the commission, and conforming to procedure, it will then be submitted to the plenary session,” the General Secretary of the Chamber of Deputies, Anicet Habarurema, reached by telephone in Kigali, told the Hirondelle Agency. “The days of the death penalty in Rwanda are now numbered,” a pleased Deputy who preferred to remain anonymous said. The text, in whose support the Minister of Justice, Tharcisse Karugarama spoke out in favour before the Deputies on Friday, was adopted by the Council of Ministers last January. If the planned law is adopted by the Chamber of Deputies, which is now beyond doubt, there are still two stages to undergo before being enacted: adoption by the Senate and promulgation by the head of state. Rwandan prisons currently hold some 600 individuals sentenced to death, essentially all for their role in the 1994 genocide which caused, according to Kigali, nearly a million deaths. In April 1998, 22 people were executed after being sentenced to death for their participation in the genocide. If the new law is adopted, death row inmates will see their sentence commuted to life in prison. Around the world, around a hundred countries have now abolished the death penalty. Rwanda could be the first African country to do so. The maintenance of capital punishment is one of the principal obstacles for transferring those being prosecuted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), located in Arusha, Tanzania, to Rwanda. The Chief Prosecutor of the ICTR, the Gambian Hassan Bubacar Jallow, has pledged, starting next month, to transfer to Rwanda 17 accused individuals, if the country abolishes capital punishment for all crimes. The ICTR, who the Security Council has asked to finish all trials before the Trial Chamber next year, must transfer certain cases before national courts. Until now, Rwanda has been the country that has shown the most interest in receiving cases from this international court which has rendered 28 guilty verdicts and 5 acquittals since the start of the trials in 1997. ER/PB/KD © Hirondelle News Agency