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Rwanda parliament votes to abolish death penalty

[JURIST] The lower house of the parliament of Rwanda [government website; JURIST news archive] voted Friday to abolish the death penalty [JURIST news archive] effective July 1, with the hope that the measure will prompt other countries to extradite defendants facing trial for the 1994 Rwandan genocide [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] back to Rwanda. Although the final vote was 45-5, 30 members of the assembly were absent. The measure will commute death sentences to life in prison for 600-800 convicts who participated in the genocide.

The Rwandan genocide saw almost a million people murdered over a time span of 100 days. Many countries, including Tanzania, the current site of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) [official website], would not extradite suspects back to Rwanda while the country retains the death penalty. Friday's parliament vote had the expected outcome, as Rwanda's ruling party approved abolition [JURIST report] of the death penalty in October and its cabinet did the same [JURIST report] in January. Reuters has more. BBC News has additional coverage.

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