Burundi abolishes death penalty, criminalizes homosexuality

Burundi abolishes death penalty, criminalizes homosexuality

[JURIST] The parliament of Burundi [government website, in French; JURIST news archive] voted Saturday in favor of laws abolishing the death penalty and criminalizing homosexuality [JURIST news archive] in the country. The elimination of the death penalty in Burundi was a requirement for establishing a UN-led truth and reconciliation committee and tribunal [JURIST report] in the country. Gay rights groups in the country condemned the criminalization of homosexuality [AFP report], and stressed the implications of the parliamentary vote for the country's struggle with HIV/AIDS [JURIST news archive].

Burundi is still recovering from a 12-year civil war [GlobalSecurity backgrounder] between the Hutu majority and the dominant Tutsi minority which began in 1993 and claimed more than 300,000 victims. Current Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza BBC profile], an ex-Hutu rebel leader, born-again Christian, and member of the National Council for the Defense of Democracy-Forces for the Defense of Democracy (NCDD-FDD) [GlobalSecurity backgrounder], was elected in 2005 after the implementation of a UN-created peace plan, but his presidency has been marred by accusations of assassinations and torture [JURIST report]. Last month a Burundi military court sentenced a colonel to death [JURIST report] for his role in the killings of 31 civilians in the country's Muyinga province in 2006.