Kigali, 13 June 2007 (FH) - The Rwandan House of Commons voted last Friday to abolish the death penalty, effective on confirmation by the Senate, declared on Wednesday to the Hirondelle agency the Speaker of the House Mr. Alfred Mukezamfura.

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"We voted for the bill on the abolition of capital punishment. We are in the process of finalizing it in order to send it to the Senate, certainly before the end of this week ", specified Mr. Mukezamfura. At the end of May, the Rwandan Minister for Justice, Mr. Tharcisse Karugarama, had said that this abolition could be effective by the end of July.

"The death penalty was abolished in accordance with the provisions of this law... (and) replaced by a life sentence", stipulates articles 2 and 3 of the bill which counts eleven articles.

According to the procedure, the Minister of Justice will now try to convince the Senate of the appropriateness of the bill, it will be sent to committee before being presented into plenary. Once the law is voted, it will be forwarded by the House of Commons and will be returned to the Government for signature and promulgation, specified M.Augustin Habimana, head of communications and documentations.
"The Deputies almost adopted the Government project without any modification. The Senate will also do so", commented a Deputy under the cover of anonymity. This law was approved in a Cabinet meeting last 17 January. The bill, composed of 11 articles, had been sent to the office of the House of Commons on 22 February and transmitted to the deputies on 27 February.
Approximately 600 people are currently sentenced to capital punishment in Rwanda. According to the new text of law, they will see their sentences commuted to criminal detention in perpetuity. The people sentenced to life in prison, in particular for genocide, terrorism, high treason and rape of minor, cannot profit from the presidential pardon.

© Hirondelle News Agency