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Rwanda ruling party announces support for death penalty abolition

[JURIST] The ruling party of Rwanda [JURIST news archive] announced Friday that it had directed its lawmakers to support a forthcoming bill to abolish the death penalty [JURIST news archive]. Leaders of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) [Wikipedia backgrounder] voted to take the action last weekend at a meeting chaired by Rwandan President Paul Kagame [official website; BBC profile], a spokesman said. The RPF, which has ruled Rwanda since 1994, holds 80 percent of the seats in parliament. A bill on abolishing capital punishment is expected to be presented in parliament [JURIST report] in December.

Because many countries refuse to extradite suspects who could face the death penalty, a ban on capital punishment in Rwanda would encourage the return of suspects for trial on charges related to the 1994 genocide [BBC backgrounder] that claimed about 800,000 lives. The UN mandate of the Tanzania-based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) [official website; JURIST news archive], which has issued judgments or begun trials in 56 cases [ICTR press release], expires in 2008. South Africa's IOL has more. BBC News has additional coverage. From Kigali, the New Times has local coverage.

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