The Monitor (Kampala) NEWS
10 June 2007
By Arthur AsiimweKigali
Rwanda's parliament voted late on Friday to abolish the death penalty, a move that should clear the way for suspects in the 1994 genocide to be extradited back to Rwanda.
Rwanda says many of the remaining suspects accused of involvement in the killings of 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and Hutu moderates are at large in Europe, North America and West Africa.
Many countries refuse to extradite criminal suspects to nations that practise capital punishment or torture. Forty-five legislators voted to scrap the death penalty and replace it with life imprisonment, and five abstained.
The remaining 30 members of the assembly were absent. Survivors of the slaughter welcomed the decision, noting that the death penalty had existed in Rwandan law before the genocide. "It didn't deter people from picking up machetes to slaughter their fellows -- that's why we are not bothered by its removal," said Theodore Simburudali, president of the Ibuka genocide survivors' group.
The new legislation could also encourage the transfer of war crimes suspects being held at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), in the Tanzanian town of Arusha.
Frustrated at the slowness of ICTR proceedings, Rwanda wants suspects transferred to face trial at home. The court, which has a huge backlog, is due to be closed in 2008.
Copyright © 2007 The Monitor. All rights reserved. Distributed by All
Africa Global Media (allAfrica.com).
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