BURUNDI: NEW LEGISLATION ABOLISHES DEATH PENALTY; BANS HOMOSEXUALITY
|Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunziza
April 22, 2009: Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunziza promulgated the new criminal code which abolishes the death penalty but makes homosexuality a crime punishable by jail.
The new criminal code also introduces laws against genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and torture which had previously been lacking.
More than 60 national and international rights groups have slammed the measure making homosexuality a crime punishable by jail.
According to the law, "whoever has sexual relations with a person of the same sex is punished by a prison sentence of three months to two years and a fine of 50,000 to 100,000 (CFA) francs, or one of these penalties," a joint statement said.
The lower house of Burundi's parliament in March reversed a Senate vote that rejected an amendment to the new criminal code that would make homosexuality punishable by a jail sentence of up to two years.
On March 6 thousands of Burundians took part in a government-organised demonstration to protest the senate's decision not to criminalise homosexuality.
A local human rights organization stated at the end of 2008 that there were approximately 800 people on death row. (Sources: Afp, 26/04/2009; AI, 24/04/2009)