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November 22 2008 | BURUNDI


Parliament adopts law abolishing death penalty

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Le Burundi adopte un code pénal abolissant la peine de mort

BUJUMBURA, 22 nov 2008 - Le parlement du Burundi a adopté samedi un nouveau code pénal prévoyant notamment l'abolition de la peine de mort pour la première fois dans ce pays d'Afrique centrale, a constaté l'AFP.

"Je voudrais remercier les honorables députés burundais qui viennent d'accomplir un travail historique en adoptant le nouveau code pénal du Burundi par 90 voix pour, 0 voix contre et 10 abstentions", a déclaré le président de l'Assemblée nationale, Pie Ntavyohanyuma, à l'issue d'une séance marathon qui s'est achevée aux premières heures de samedi.

"C'est un code pénal révolutionnaire qui abolit la peine de mort pour la première fois au Burundi et intègre les dispositions de droit international contre le génocide, les crimes contre l'humanité et de guerre qui jusqu'à aujourd'hui n'étaient pas pénalisés", a expliqué à l'AFP le député et ancien ministre de la Justice Didace Kiganahe, qui a dirigé la rédaction de ce code.



Burundi abolishes death penalty

BUJUMBURA, Burundi -- Burundi's parliament on Saturday adopted a new set of laws abolishing the death penalty for the first time in the troubled central African country.

The new penal law also incorporates elements of international law on genocide and crimes against humanity but criminalizes homosexuality.

The law overwhelmingly passed by Burundi's members of parliament still needs to be approved by the Senate and promulgated by President Pierre Nkurunziza, both steps seen as a formality.

"I would like to thank the Burundian lawmakers who have achieved a historic landmark by adopting a new penal law by 90 votes for, no votes against, and 10 abstentions," Speaker Pie Ntavyohanyuma said.

"It is a revolutionary penal law because it abolishes the death penalty for the first time in Burundi," MP and former justice minister Didace Kiganahe told AFP after the 14-hour session, which ended in the small hours of Saturday.

Kiganahe, responsible for drafting the new law, explained that it also "incorporates provisions of international law against genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes, which were not considered offenses so far."

"This vote required some courage because the lawmakers voted in favor of abolishing the death penalty knowing that their electorate wanted to maintain it," he said.

Several hundred convicts have been sentenced to death in Burundi but the last execution was carried out in 1997.

According to the new law, all prisoners currently sitting on death row will see their sentences commuted into life jail terms.

Kiganahe said the new penal law, comprising 620 articles, also "introduces a raft of provisions aimed at protecting women and children against all forms of violence, notably sexual violence."

"Finally, it will also includes specific clauses criminalizing torture because this heinous practice was not punishable in Burundian law until now," he added.

The new criminal laws provide for jail terms ranging from 10 years to life for torture and from 20 years to life for rape.

Some lawmakers nevertheless bemoaned that a provision criminalizing homosexuality tarnished the new law's success.

"Unfortunately, this penal law is also a regression because it now makes homosexuality a criminal offense, whereas it had been tolerated until now," said MP Catherine Mabobori, who abstained during the vote.

Burundi is struggling to emerge from a civil war that has left at least 300,000 people dead since 1993. Its political institutions have been chronically crippled by internal wrangling.

Neighboring Rwanda abolished the death penalty in July 2007.




BUJUMBURA, 22 NOV - Lo stato centrafricano del Burundi ha abolito la pena di morte adottando un nuovo codice penale, approvato dal parlamento di Bujumbura.

''Vorrei ringraziare gli onorevoli deputati del Burundi che hanno compiuto un passo storico adottando il nuovo codice penale con 90 voti a favore, nessuno contrario e 10 astensioni'', ha dichiarato il presidente del parlamento, Pie Ntavyohamyuma, al termine di una seduta-fiume che e' stata tolta solo alle prime ore di questa mattina.

''Si tratta di un codice penale rivoluzionario che abolisce la pena di morte per la prima volta nel Burundi e integra dispositivi di diritto internazionale contro il genocidio, i crimini contro l'umanita' e di guerra, che finora non costituivano reati penali', ha spiegato un deputato, Didace Kiganahe, ex ministro della giustizia. Il nuovo codice, che consta di 620 articoli, trasforma la pena capitale in carcere a vita, proibisce anche la tortura e definisce anche il reato di violenza sessuale, che non era chiaramente specificato nel vecchio codice e che nel nuovo viene punito con una pena massima di 20 anni.


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