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Last Updated: Friday, 8 June 2007, 16:59 GMT 17:59 UK
Rwanda scraps the death penalty
A survivor prays at a mass grave
Some survivors believe the death penalty acts as a strong deterrent
Rwanda's parliament has voted to abolish the death penalty, with the ban to take effect at the end of July.

The move will enable countries that are holding genocide suspects, but which object to capital punishment, to extradite them to Rwanda.

But there has been strong opposition to the scrapping of the death penalty from many survivors of the genocide.

Some 800,000 Tutsis and Hutu moderates were slaughtered during the country's 100-day genocide in 1994.

Most of the high-profile genocide cases have been or are being tried at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Tanzania.

But frustrated at its slow process, Rwanda wants suspects transferred to face trail at home.

The BBC's Geoffrey Mutagoma in the capital, Kigali, says 96% of the MPs voted to abolish the death penalty.

Under the new law, Rwanda's 800 death-row prisoners will automatically have their sentences changed to life in jail.

Rwanda last implemented the death penalty in 1998 when 22 people found guilty of genocide crimes were put before a firing squad.

Our reporter says it provoked international criticism and petitions from human rights bodies to suspend the punishment with an act of clemency.

He says it is hoped the new legislation will encourage the transfer of genocide suspects to Rwandan courts.

The law still needs to be passed by the senate, which has never before contested the lower chamber's decisions, our correspondent says.


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