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Statements Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights


27 July 2007

Geneva, 27 July 2007: United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour today hailed Rwanda's abolition of capital punishment, calling it a powerful endorsement of the importance of pursuing justice while repudiating violence in all its forms.

"Abolition in Rwanda sends a very strong message", the High Commissioner said. "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 death penalty ban should allow the extradition to Rwanda of persons accused of genocide in order to stand trial in the national courts. Many countries refuse to hand over suspects to jurisdictions in which they may face capital punishment. Rwandan authorities had signaled to the High Commissioner the impending abolition of the death penalty in the country during her visit to Kigali in May this year.

"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", the High Commissioner said.