Sometimiento de la demanda del caso por la Comisión el 27 de agosto de 1990 y anexo (informe de la Comisión I.D.H. No. 04/90).


27 de agosto de 1990

Ref.: Caso No. 10.274

Excelentísimo Presidente de la Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos:

Por instrucciones del doctor Leo Valladares Lanza, Presidente de la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos (en adelante, ¬la Comisión¬), respetuosamente me dirijo a usted a fin de someter a la Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos (en adelante, ¬la Corte¬) el siguiente caso contra la República de Suriname, en base a las consideraciones de hechos y de derecho que a continuación se exponen.

En el curso de su 77¼ período de sesiones, la Comisión referente al caso 10.274 (Suriname) aprobó su informe 04/90 de fecha 15 de mayo de 1990, en el que se dispone su elevación a la Corte de conformidad con los artículos 51 y 61 de la Convención Americana sobre Derechos Humanos (en adelante, ¬la Convención¬) y el artículo 50 del Reglamento de la Comisión.

Conforme al artículo 73 del Reglamento de la Comisión, las partes que intervendrán en los procedimientos ante la Corte serán el Gobierno de la República de Suriname y la Comisión. Asimismo, de acuerdo con los artículos 21 y 25 del Reglamento de la Corte, la Comisión designa para que la representen en este caso, a los siguientes delegados: Oliver H. Jackman, miembro; Edith Márquez Rodríguez, Secretaria Ejecutiva; y David J. Padilla, Secretario Ejecutivo Adjunto. La Comisión se reservas el derecho de designar a otros delegados para intervenir en este caso, si hubiera necesidad de hacerlo.

Dr. Héctor Fix-Zamudio

Presidente, Corte Interamericana

de Derechos Humanos

San José, Costa Rica

Para todos los efectos legales, los delegados constituyen domicilio en la dirección de la Comisión: 1889 F. Street, N.W., 8vo. piso, Washington D.C. 20006, Estados Unidos de América, donde solicito se sirva transmitir todas las comunicaciones, notificaciones, citaciones, etc. a que diere lugar este procedimiento ante la Corte.

Un resumen del caso está contenido en el informe 03/90 que se adjunta y que pasa a formar parte integral de esta presentación.

Para mayor información de la Corte, se acompaña copia del expediente ante la Comisión.

El Gobierno de Suriname ratificó la Convención Americana sobre Derechos Humanos el 12 de noviembre de 1987 y al mismo tiempo aceptó la jurisdicción obligatoria de la Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos.

La Comisión ha constatado que el Gobierno de Suriname violó los artículos 1, 2, 4(1), 5(1), 5(2), 7(1), 7(2), 7(3), 25(1) y 25(2) de la Convención Americana sobre Derechos Humanos.

En mérito a las consideraciones de hecho y de derecho que anteceden, la Comisión solicita que la Corte decida sobre este caso conforme a las disposiciones de la Convención, que determine la responsabilidad por la violación señalada y que otorgue una justa compensación a los familiares de la víctima.

Aprovecho esta oportunidad para reiterar a Vuestra Excelencia las seguridades de mi más alta y distinguida consideración.

Edith Márquez Rodríguez

Secretaria Ejecutiva


REPORT N¼ 04/90*

CASE 10.274


May 15, 1990

The facts:

1. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights received a petition in a communication dated December 17, 1988, concerning the detention and subsequent death of Asok Gangaram Panday in Suriname. the petition was received in Paramaribo, Suriname during an on-site visit to that country by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

L. Gangaram Panday, brother of the deceased Asok Gangaram Panday, complained to David Padilla, Assistant Executive Secretary of the Commission that:

Asok Gangaram Panday, my brother, was detained by the Military Police upon his arrival at Zanderij Airport on Saturday, November 5, at 8:00 PM. I saw him being taken by the Military Police to a room. His wife, Dropati, also was with me and saw him in the custody of the police. He appeared to be in normal health. At about 10:30 I asked the police about him. We were concerned. The police said to wait. I continued to ask about my brother until about 4:00 AM when he came out of the room in which he was being detained. He appeared to be very upset. He saw me. I approached him. He said ¬I have problems.¬Then a policeman grabbed him and shook him and took him away to the other side of the airport. I went home.

The next day, Sunday, at 7:30 AM I phoned the military police at the airport. They told me to call at 4:30 because the Commander would be there at that time. I phoned at 4:30. The Commander told me that they had finished the investigation. My brother was to be transferred to Fort Zeelandia that night. I asked why he had been arrested. The Commander said it was because he had been expelled from Holland.

During the next two days I continually called the Military Police at Zanderij and at Ft. Zeelandia. They kept telling me to call later or elsewhere. Finally on Tuesday, at 8:00 AM, the Lieutenant of the Military Police at Ft. Zeelandia toll me he was sorry to inform me by phone that my brother had hanged himself. The Lieutenant's name is PAURONADI.

I went to my lawyer, GEETA GANGARAM PANDAY. Together we went to Attorney General Reeder who knew nothing of the matter. With my lawyer, the Attorney General, and Mr. Freitas, the military auditor, we went to the morgue.

I saw my brother's body. He was nude except for the underpants. He had bruises on his chest and stomach and a hole in his back. One eye was black and his lip was cut. The bruises were large.


* This report constitutes the report referred to in Article 50 of the American Convention of Human Rights.

To date they have not given us the clothing of my brother. When I saw him he had a short belt around his neck. I said it was too short to have hanged himself. I was told that the Military Police had cut the belt and the Attorney General had the missing piece. I was not allowed to see the room where my brother was said to have killed himself.

The first autopsy said he had committed suicide. The second said he died of asphyxiation but responsibility could not be assigned. The third autopsy said death by violence.

I obtained a copy of the third autopsy and will send it to the Commission.

I also took a videotape of my brother's corpse in the morgue before cremation, when we were given the cadaver for washing. I provide this tape to the Commission. The video notes the day it was taken.

When we removed my brother's underpants we saw that his testicles had been crushed.

My brother was a working man. He hadn't seen his wife and children for a year. He returned to surprise them because it was a religious holiday. Originally he planned to return in December. He voluntarily returned to Suriname having sent his car, a 1981 Toyota Corolla, so that he could work as a taxi driver.

He told the Dutch authorities that he wanted to return to Suriname in order to get compensation for his trip.

My brother was a sober man, hard working and religious and never would have committed suicide.

The Attorney General orally told my lawyer that this was a case of suicide. No written official report has been provided to the family. My lawyer said I should not pursue the matter further with the Surinamese authorities because it is dangerous.

My brother was not a political man, nor am I.

2. In rendering this complaint, petitioner at the same time appointed the International Human Rights Law Group as his legal representative. Professor Claudio Grossman serves as the attorney for the Law Group in this case.

3. On December 21, 1988, the Commission sent the following note to Dr. E. J. Sedoc, Minister of Foreign Relations of Suriname, requesting information concerning the circumstances of the death of Asok Gangaram Panday:

When the Special Commission of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights was in Suriname last week conducting it's on-site visit, it received a complaint alleging that Mr. Asok Gangaram Panday had been deprived of his right to life when he was unlawfully detained, brutalized and later was killed by the Military Police upon his arrival at Zanderij Airport on November 5, 1988. The details of this complaint are appended to this letter.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights respectfully requests that your Excellency's Government provide the pertinent information on this case within the next 90 days.

Inter alia, the Commission wishes to receive copies of all autopsies, post mortem and pathological reports done in this connection. It is the Commission's understanding that those were done by the coroner, Dr. Vrede.

You should be aware Excellency that the Commission was provided with a video tape which ostensibly show the preparations made of the victim's body for cremation. A viewing of the semi-nude cadaver indicates bruising about the body as well as a roughly one inch wound in the lower back.

Of course, the film will have to be subject to expert analysis; nevertheless, I believe it is important to bring these details to your attention.

4. On February 6, 1989, a full text of the complaint made by L. Gangaram Panday was sent by the Commission to the Government of Suriname.

5. On July 5, 1989, the Commission received a reply to its communication from the Government of Suriname dated May 2, 1989. The pertinent parts of the reply are as follows:

The deceased ASOK GANGARAM PANDAY indeed was put up by the Military Police in a building for evicted persons at the Zandorij Airport on Thursday, November 5, 1988.

The Attorney General, however, wishes to comment on some inaccuracies made by Mr. Padilla in his letter:

That after the Lawyer Gangaram Panday, brother of the deceased, informed about what had happened, the Attorney General gave the order for an autopsy and the Judge Advocate together with the Lawyer Gangaram Panday were given the opportunity to visit the mortuary for an autopsy of the dead body.

That it is not correct, that the Attorney General has accompanied them (see page 1, third paragraph of the letter) as the Attorney General personally inspected the building --no cell- where ASOK GANGARAM PANDAY was put up, and at the same time investigated the circumstances and the reasons for his detention.

That other family members of the deceased did not contact the Attorney General not the Judge-Advocate.

That an autopsy report was made and the Pathologist Anatomist had concluded that this was a case of suicide. Which fact was reported to the brother of the deceased, the Lawyer Gangaram Panday.

That no copy of the autopsy report was requested.

That abundant to the abovementioned, a report was also made by the Technical Criminal Investigation Department and the Identifying Department, regarding the possibility that ASOK GANGARAM PANDAY might have hanged himself with his belt, which fact was confirmed by the Investigation Officer.

That the Attorney General had considered it necessary to investigate whether the Military Police Officer during the arrestation of GANGARAM PANDAY was guilty of unpermitted deprivation or unlawful detention.

That the Judge Advocate has been ordered to subpoena the Military Police Officer at the Martial Court.

6. On September 14, 1989, a request for a hearing by the Commission was made by Prof. Claudio Grossman, attorney for the petitioner.

7. A hearing was held during the Commission's 76th regular session in September 1989. During the hearing Professor Grossman reiterated the nature of his client's complaint and indicated his willingness to consider a friendly settlement of the matter.

8. In November, 1989, a meeting was held between Prof. Grossman and the Foreign Minister of Suriname, in the presence of David Padilla, for the purpose of discussing the prospects for a friendly settlement. Possible monetary reparations were proposed by petitioner's counsel.

9. In a letter to the Commission, dated January 29, 1990. L. Gangaram Panday disputed the May 2, 1989, communication by the Government of Suriname. A summary of the letter is a follows:

a. His memory about the Attorney General's presence at the mortuarium may be faulty. He was told by a military officer that the Attorney General was present.

b. The autopsy was not performed in his presence. He was told that the autopsy was to be performed at 11:00 AM but when he, the public prosecutor, and Geeta Gangaram Panday arrived they were informed that the autopsy had been performed at 8:00 AM in the presence of 4-6 soldiers. There are witnesses to this fact.

c. The family has indeed contacted the Government. Geeta Gangaram Panday has personally spoken to the public prosecutor, Mr. de Freitas. As of January 29, 1990, no one from the military police has summoned L. Gangaram Panday or given him any information.

d. L. Gangaram Panday knows some members of the Military Police who claim that Asok was tortured at Ft. Zeelandia, not Zenderij. Those people are afraid to testify.

e. He also knows some people at the mortuarium who say that Asok died earlier than was officially told.

f. He has sent a copy of the third autopsy, signed by the Pathologist Anatomist. There are no copies of the other two, although they were referred to in the press. He has copies of the pertinent newspapers.

g. Professor Claudio Grossman was appointed lawyer by the petitioner in 1989. All communications from Professor Grossman by mail have been delayed two months and have been opened, apparently by Government authorities.

10. Professor Claudio Grossman sent the videotape of the washing of Asok's corpse to be analyzed by doctor Richard Baltero, Ph.D., M.D., of the National Institute of Health. A letter to Prof. Grossman, dated February 4, 1990, contains his professional evaluation of the tape. While in Dr. Baltero's view the quality of the tape is unsatisfactory, he states inter alia that ¬The bruises on the right chest and abdomen require explanation. They are likely to have been produced by blunt force during the person's life. The lesion on the left back is likely to be a laceration or tear that does not appear to follow the body's natural lines of cleavage and sharp trauma, which may have occurred post-mortem for I do not see any bleeding. I do not believe that it was caused by a gun shot wound. Unfortunately, the tape quality makes a precise diagnosis difficult¬. He also concludes that: ¬The manner of death is not natural. The cause of death is asphyxia by hanging. I would conclude from the evidence given to me, the cause of death is hanging but the manner of death could not be to me, I would sign a death certificate as ¬undetermined, if I had to, but would prefer to investigate the case more extensively.¬

11. On March 20, 1990, Prof. Grossman sent a copy of Dr. Baltero's report to the Commission.

12. A copy of the autopsy report, in Dutch, dated November 14, 1988, was sent to the Commission by Prof. Grossman on March 21, 1990. The autopsy was performed by Dr. M.A. Vrede, the Pathologist-Anatomist of the Anatomic Hospital in Paramaribo. Dr. Vrede certified that Asok Gangaram Panday died by ¬violence¬and did not commit suicide.

13. On March 23, 1990, the pertinent parts of petitioner's letter along with Dr. Baltero's evaluation and a copy of Dr. Vrede's post-mortem were sent to the Government of Suriname as additional information, requesting the Government's observations within 30 days.

14. On May 11, 1990 the Government submitted the following note and enclosure to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights:

With regard to abovementioned case the Government of Suriname wishes to refer to the results of the investigation contained in the note of the Embassy dated May 2nd, 1989 to the Executive Secretary.

For sake of completeness the Government of Suriname hereby submits a copy of the autopsy report.

15. On the same day another hearing was held before the Commission on this matter. At that time Professor Grossman explained that he had been unable to achieve a friendly settlement of the matter and therefore demanded that the Commission remit it to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights as a contentious case for purposes of litigation.

16. Domestic remedies have been ineffective. The problems remaining to be resolved are as follows:

a. The Government has offered no explanation for Asok's detention nor how and why he came to allegedly kill himself while in the custody of the Military Police.

b. The Government has not confirmed where the death took place, whether at Zenderij Airport or at Ft. Zeelandia.

c. The Government does not directly address the question of torture, evidence of which can be found on the videotape and Dr. Baltero's analysis, and in the autopsy report by Dr. Vrede, the Pathologist-Anatomist in the Anatomic Hospital in Paramaribo.

d. The Government has not admitted that three different autopsy reports were made and therefore offers no explanation for the discrepancies between them.

e. There is no reply to questions about the belt Asok allegedly used to hang himself.

f. There are direct denials by the Government of L. Gangaram Panday's assertion of the facts.

g. Although the Government claimed to initiate an investigation there is no evidence that it has indeed done so. Even if it has conducted an investigation no conclusions have been offered.


1. Suriname is a party to the American Convention on Human Rights;

2. Suriname has accepted the compulsory jurisdiction of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights;

3. There has been a complaint;

4. The complaint was made within the time limits established in Article 46(1)(b) of the American Convention,

5. There has been an exhaustion of domestic remedies (Article 46(1)(a) ) in that the Government has failed to investigate and prosecute this case notwithstanding the evidence available to it; rather it has enacted an Amnesty decree freeing those responsible of all criminal liability;

6. The attempt at friendly settlement was ineffective (Article 49), and

7. The procedures of the Commission have been exhausted (Article 50(1) ).



1. To admit the present case.

2. To declare that the parties have been unable to achieve a friendly settlement.

3. To declare that the Government of Suriname has failed to fulfill its obligations to respect the rights and freedoms contained in the American Convention on Human Rights and to assure their enjoyment as provided for in Articles 1 and 2 of the same instrument.

4. To declare that the Government of Suriname violated the human rights of the subjects of this case as provided for by Articles 1, 2, 4(1), 5(1), 5(2), 7(1), 7(2), 7(3), 25(1), and 25(2) of the American Convention on Human Rights.

5. To recommend to the Government of Suriname that it take the following measures:

a. Give effect to Articles 1 and 2 of the Convention by assuring respect for and enjoyment of the rights contained therein;

b. Investigate the violations that occurred in this case and try and punish those responsible for their occurrence;

c. Take necessary measures to avoid their reoccurrence;

d. Pay a just compensation to the victim's next of kin.

6. To transmit this report to the Government of Suriname and to provide the Government with 90 days to implement the recommendations contained herein. The 90 day period shall begin as of the date this report is sent. During the 90 days in question the Government may not publish this report, in keeping with Article 47.6 of the Commission's Regulations.

7. To submit this case to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in the event that the Government of Suriname should fail to implement all of the recommendations contained in numeral 5 above.


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