Rwanda Abolishes Death Penalty to Get Justice

| Fri Sep. 29, 2006 2:39 AM EDT

If there's any nation that should be thirsting for extreme measures against murderers, it's Rwanda, site of a genocidal rampage in 1994 that left nearly one million people dead. But the tiny African country's Justice Minister recently announced that the government plans to scrap capital punishment at the end of this year. It's less a matter of principle than practicality: many Rwandans suspected of involvement in atrocities are currently being held in countries like Belgium and Sweden that refuse to extradite prisoners if they face the death penalty. By abolishing it, Rwanda could gain custody of those prisoners and put them on trial, bringing "closure", as the Justice Minister put it. So far, the only Western country to have extradited suspects to Rwanda is - surprise! - the United States.

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