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International brief ~ Rwanda parliament to vote on abolishing death penalty

[JURIST] Leading Tuesday's international brief, Rwandan Justice Minister Tharcisse Karugarama has confirmed that the Rwandan Parliament [official website] would be presented a bill in December aimed at abolishing capital punishment in the African nation. The legislation, immensely unpopular with the majority of Rwandan citizens, is necessary to qualify Rwanda as a legally permitted partner in extradition proceedings [Interpol backgrounder] with European nations. Several European countries are currently holding alleged "masterminds" of the 1994 genocide and Rwanda has repeatedly requested that these individuals be extradited to face charges of genocide in Rwandan courts. The European Convention on Human Rights [official text], however, prevents extradition to countries that still allow the death penalty, preventing European governments from returning the suspects to stand trial. Karugarama said that the measure was necessary to obtain closure for the population of Rwanda, especially as the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda [official website] is scheduled to close at the end of 2008, though current estimates project that it will not have finished the trials of all the suspects it currently detains. The Rwandan government wants those suspects extradited from UN facilities in Tanzania to Rwanda, but the UN has refused to permit extradition as long as the death penalty is in place. The East African has local coverage.

In other international legal news...

  • Sudanese officials have given the African Union [official website] until next Monday to declare whether they will remain committed to handing over the current Darfur peacekeeping mission to the UN or decide to stay in the region themselves. Sudan [government website, in Arabic; JURIST news archive] informed the AU that it will require complete removal of all African Union peacekeepers by the end of September if the regional organization continues to support the transfer of the peacekeeping mission to the UN, which Sudan has rejected as a valid overseer of the peacekeeping process. The Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs [government website] said that the government would be assuming responsibility for peacekeeping in the Darfur region [JURIST news archive] if the AU remains committed to handing over their peacekeeping role to the UN. The UN Security last week adopted a resolution [text; JURIST report] authorizing the deployment of UN peacekeeping troops to Darfur, but the resolution cannot take effect until the Sudanese government consents to the presence of the UN troops. The Sudan Tribune has local coverage.

  • A Zimbabwean judge has found Zimbabwean Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa not guilty in his criminal case for obstruction of justice [JURIST report] on the grounds that the state had "failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt." Chinamasa, said to be a forerunner for the presidential office after the planned retirement of current Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe [JURIST news archive] in 2008, was charged with trying to prevent a prosecution witness from presenting testimony against Zimbabwean State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa. Zimbabwean Attorney General Sobuza Gula-Ndebele pushed for the prosecution of Chinamasa to preserve the integrity of the judicial system, while critics claimed the prosecution was motivated by the opposition between the two about who should sucked Mugabe. Minutes after the trial ended, the lead prosecutor received three different threatening phone calls, warning him of impending violence for pursuing the state's case. ZimOnline has local coverage.

  • KB Gurung, head of the Nepali Congress, one of the major political parties involved in restructuring the Nepalese government, told protestors on Tuesday that he favored keeping the role of king as the head of state in a largely ceremonial position in the planned democracy. Gurung said that the role would be similar to that of other monarchs in Nepal's history that retained their position to ensure the continued peace and prosperity of the nation. The monarchy would be ceremonial but should have a clearly defined role laid out in the new constitution, a position that many Nepalese citizens dislike after protesting strongly [JURIST news archive] against King Gyanendra's heavy-handed rule during the declared state of emergency. The main factions involved in the drafting of the proposed constitution [PDF text, in Nepali; JURIST report] have yet to agree on the level of involvement [JURIST report] the monarchy should have in the new government. NepalNews.com has local coverage.

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