Arusha, 31 August 2007 (FH) - The Rwandan President, Paul Kagame, encouraged other countries to follow the example of his country, as he received Thursday in Rome, Italy, an award for the abolition of the death penalty.

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"We encourage more countries in Africa and in the world to be put an end to this practice", declared the Rwandan Head of State, in receiving this award handed out by the Italian organization, Hands off Cain.
Kagame received the "award of abolitionist of the year 2007" from Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi.
Rwanda abolished last month the death penalty for all crimes including the 1994 genocide which resulted, according to Kigali, in nearly a million killed, primarily Tutsis.
"The death penalty is contrary to our vision of stability, peace, prosperity and democratic governance", estimated the Rwandan president, in a speech consulted Friday by the Hirondelle agency on the site of the organization Hands off Cain.
He, however, recognized that it had not been "easy to obtain a national consensus" on the abolition of this sentence, notably because of the wounds of the 1994 genocide that still remain.
Mr. Kagame also called on countries harbouring genocide suspects not to hesitate further in extradite them towards Rwanda now that the death penalty has been abolished. "
"There are countries which had in the past refused to hand over (to Rwandan courts) Rwandans accused of crimes of genocide for the reason that they would likely be put to death", he recalled.
"If these countries change their position now and return, for judgment in Rwanda, the said individuals, we would welcome this decision because it would undoubtedly develop the administration of justice in our country", he added.
The suppression of the death penalty raised one of the principal obstacles to the transfer before Rwandan courts of accused of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) headquartered in Arusha, in northern Tanzania.
Rwanda is the first country of the African Great Lakes Region to have abolished the death penalty.

© Hirondelle News Agency