RWANDA. RULING PARTY TO VOTE ON ABOLISHING DEATH PENALTY
|Rwandan President Paul Kagame
October 12, 2006: Rwanda's ruling party will push for a law abolishing the death penalty in the east African state, a senior party official said. Outlawing capital punishment would clear the way for the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and western countries to extradite genocide suspects to Rwanda. Servilien Sebasoni, the spokesperson for the ruling party, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), denied suggestions that the party had made the decision to facilitate extradition of suspects to Rwanda.
"They have not requested us to abolish capital punishment completely, all they wanted were guarantees that the suspects they sent would not be liable to capital punishment," he said.
"That is an arrangement we would have worked out without completely abolishing the death penalty. Our decision is done purely in the interests of the public," he added.
A political bureau meeting of the RPF, chaired by Rwandan President Paul Kagame, resolved that the party would support "legislation abolishing capital punishment for all crimes".
The RPF controls both chambers of parliament - the Senate and the House of Deputies, the lower house - with more than 70 percent representation.
"We have conducted extensive debates within the party and come to a common position that capital punishment is of no use to Rwanda and that we would not lose anything by abolishing it," Sebasoni said.
"Technicians are working on a bill that will be tabled very soon. We hope that every Member of Parliament and senators from the RPF will vote in favour of abolishing the death penalty," he added.
Genocide survivors say that executing master-minders of the 1994 genocide, in which the some 937,000 Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus were killed, is a major tool in preventing similar crimes in future.
"It is understandable that genocide survivors may be against removing capital punishment," Sebasoni said. "They lost many people and the killings were often brutal," he added. "At the same time, we hope that they will understand that while death may bring short-lived satisfaction to victims and their families, life in jail, for example, is a more severe punishment." (Sources: IRIN, 12/10/2006)