11.07.07 - RWANDA/JUSTICE - RWANDAN SENATE VOTES TO ABOLISH CAPITAL PUNISHMENT

Arusha, 11 July 2007 (FH) - The Rwandan Senate voted Tuesday to abolish the death penalty, a bill that was initiated by the ruling party, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), it was learnt on Wednesday morning.   
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"The Senate voted yesterday (Tuesday) on the bill abolishing the death penalty", reported Wednesday morning, the state run radio, Radio Rwanda, received by the Hirondelle agency in Arusha, Tanzania.
 
The radio underlined in a news bulletin that the bill was adopted unanimously by the senators present.
 
All that remains is for President Paul Kagame to sign the bill, which his party is at the origin, into law.
 
According to this bill, all persons sentenced to capital punishment who are currently in prison, approximately 600, will see their sentence commuted to life in prison.
 
However, certain categories of persons sentenced to life in prison, in particular those found guilty of genocide, are not eligible for a presidential pardon nor can they have their sentences commuted, added the radio referring to the new law.
 
This law lies notably within the scope of Rwanda’s preparation to accommodate defendants who will possibly be transferred from the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) or who will be extradited from other countries.
 
The ICTR, which the Security Council has asked to finish its trials by next year, has to transfer some cases to national jurisdictions, including Rwanda.
 
One of the principal conditions required by the ICTR for a country wishing to try defendants is not to apply the death penalty.
 
The last executions of persons sentenced to death in Rwanda goes back to 24 April 1998, date on which 22 people who had been found guilty of genocide were publicly shot.
 
ER/MM/AT
© Hirondelle News Agency