|06KIGALI1017||2006-10-19 16:03:00||UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY||Embassy Kigali|
VZCZCXYZ0031 RR RUEHWEB DE RUEHLGB #1017 2921603 ZNR UUUUU ZZH R 191603Z OCT 06 FM AMEMBASSY KIGALI TO SECSTATE WASHDC 3371
UNCLAS KIGALI 001017
1. (U) On 17 October Rwandan Justice Minister Tharcisse
Karugarama held a press conference to announce a "nation wide
debate" on the abolishment of the death penalty in Rwanda.
Although it has not been implemented since 22 genocidaires
were shot by firing squads in 1997, the subject has been a
key issue in discussions between the GOR and the Arusha based
International Criminal Tribune for Rwanda (ICTR). ICTR chief
prosecutor Hassan Bubcar Jallow described the death penalty
as "the major stumbling block" in a final agreement to
transfer ICTR detainees to Rwanda for trial. The discussion
follows a 7 Oct meeting of the ruling Rwandese Patriotic
Front (RPF), chaired by President Kagame, that made the
recommendation that the government abolish the death penalty.
The cabinet then directed the Minister of Justice to launch
public debates which, in addition to the press conference,
will include a discussion at the Political Parties Forum on
19 Oct and debate with students and academic staff at the
National University on 20 Oct.
2. (SBU) Comment. Although described as Kaurgarama as a
"public debate" and that a consensus has not been reached on
the issue, last week's RPF announcement likely means this
decision has been made and the public discussion is a
formality that will not impact the final outcome. In
addition to resolving the ICTR transfer question, ending the
death penalty will also allow Rwanda to discuss suspect
transfers with European nations. However, there will still
be opposition to the decision by genocide survivors groups
and others who believe that the state should execute those
found guilty of genocide. End comment.