United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour today hailed Rwanda’s abolition of capital punishment, calling the decision by a country that has suffered genocide an example for others to follow in the pursuit of justice while repudiating violence in all its forms.
“Abolition in Rwanda sends a very strong message,” Ms Arbour said in a statement. “A country that has suffered the ultimate crime and whose people’s thirst for justice is still far from quenched has decided to forego a sanction that should have no place in any society that claims to value human rights and the inviolability of the person. Rwanda is demonstrating leadership by action.”
The decision should allow the extradition to Rwanda of persons accused of genocide in order to stand trial in the national courts for the massacres in 1994 of some 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus by Hutu extremists. Many countries refuse to hand over suspects to countries where they may face capital punishment.
“With the promulgation of the law banning the death penalty, Rwanda simultaneously takes an important step forward in ensuring respect for the right to life and makes further progress in bringing to justice those responsible for the heinous crimes of the 1994 genocide,” Ms. Arbour said.