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Last Updated: Friday, 13 October 2006, 13:19 GMT 14:19 UK
Rwanda moves to ban death penalty
A survivor prays at a mass grave
Many countries refuse to extradite genocide suspects to Rwanda
The leaders of Rwanda's ruling party have endorsed a proposal to abolish the death penalty, which may encourage the transfer of genocide suspects in exile.

The political bureau of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) backed the decision at a meeting chaired by President Paul Kagame.

Many countries refuse to extradite criminal suspects to states which use torture and execution.

Some 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were slaughtered in Rwanda's genocide.

"We have conducted extensive debates within the party and come to a common position that capital punishment is of no use to Rwanda," RPF spokesman Servilien Sebasoni told AFP news agency.

However, survivors of the 1994 genocide are strongly opposed to the decision.

Draft law

Mr Sebasoni told reporters that a bill was currently being drafted and would be tabled very soon.

The RPF controls both chambers of parliament.

"If that draft law is tabled before parliament, our members will have to support it," Mr Sebasoni explained to Rwanda's New Times newspaper.

The new legislation could also encourage the transfer of war crimes suspects detained at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), based in the Tanzanian town of Arusha, correspondents say.

Most of the high-profile genocide cases have been tried by the Arusha tribunal, which since 1997 has convicted 25 ringleaders of the genocide and acquitted three people.

Frustrated at its slow process, Rwanda wants suspects transferred to face trial at home.

The court is due to be disbanded in 2008.


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