BURUNDI ABOLISHES DEATH PENALTY, OUTLAWS HOMOSEXUALS
|Pierre Nkurunziza, one of Africa's youngest leaders
November 21, 2008: Burundi's parliament overwhelmingly agreed to abolish the death penalty, but homosexuals
voiced outrage at a provision in the new penal law that makes them criminals.
The new set of laws overwhelmingly passed by MPs after a 14-hour session still needs to be approved by the Senate and promulgated by President Pierre
Nkurunziza, both steps seen as a formality. The vote was adopted by ā90 votes for, no votes against and 10 abstentions," Speaker Pie Ntavyohanyuma said.
"It is a revolutionary penal law because it abolishes the death penalty for the first time in Burundi,"
MP and former justice minister Didace Kiganahe said. Kiganahe, responsible for drafting the new law, explained that it also "incorporates provisions of
international law against genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, which were not considered offences so far." But some lawmakers criticised
the provision criminalising homosexuality.
"Unfortunately, this penal law is also a regression because it now makes homosexuality a criminal offence, whereas
it had been tolerated until now," said MP Catherine Mabobori, who abstained during the vote.
Kiganahe said "it also includes specific
clauses criminalising torture because this heinous practice was not punishable in Burundian law until now."
(Sources: Agence France Presse, 22/11/2008)