Thank you Mr. President,
Rwanda welcomes the convening of this high-level panel and thanks the panellists for their presentations. We thank the Chairperson of the ACHPR and its Working Group on the Death Penalty and Extra-Judicial, Summary or Arbitrary killings in Africa for her informative briefing and update on their activities in regards to abolition of the death penalty.
Rwanda abolished the death penalty in 2007, 13 years after the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi. This was not an easy decision for us to take, the pain and desire for justice by the families of genocide victims’ and survivors was understandable and could not be ignored. However, through a broad and often difficult consultative process, Rwandans came to the view that the death penalty could never serve as an instrument of justice, even for the most heinous of crimes. We have not regretted that decision and abolishing the death penalty proved to be a significant step forward in the process of reconciliation in Rwanda.
Since the adoption of Resolution 42 by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) in Kigali in 1999, Rwanda along with a number of African abolitionist states have continued to advocate for a moratorium on the death penalty through various fora and mechanisms. In that regard, we warmly welcome the adoption of the Cotonou Declaration adopted at the Continental Conference on the Death Penalty held in Benin in July 2014. We also welcome the Human Rights Organisations’ Manifesto for a Protocol to the African Charter on the Abolition of the Death Penalty in Africa adopted at the same meeting. A number of African States have taken significant steps towards the abolition of the death penalty and or have introduced moratoriums on its use. We are pleased that discussions towards the definition of an additional protocol to the African Union Charter on the Abolition of the Death Penalty in Africa are progressing well and look forward to its adoption.
In conclusion Mr. President, Rwanda remains resolutely committed to engaging in all efforts towards a moratorium on the use of the death penalty, a reduction in death sentences and executions and the eventual universal abolition of the death penalty.
Thank you Mr. President