University of Minnesota

Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Suriname, Inter-Am. C.H.R., OEA/Ser.L/V/II.61, Doc. 6 rev. 1 (1983).




1. In light of the foregoing, the Commission concludes that serious violations of important human rights provided in the Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man have occurred in Suriname. The rights particularly affected are:

2. The Right to Life, given the illegal executions carried out by agents and authorities of the Government. The Commission is especially alarmed by the executions that took place at the Fort Zeelandia prison during the night of December 8, 1982. On that occasion fifteen prominent Surinamese citizens were summarily murdered. Furthermore, the overwhelming evidence obtained by the Commission indicates that the fifteen were brutally tortured before being killed and that high government officials participated, directly or indirectly, in their deaths.

3. The Right to Justice and Due Process, given that there is no truly independent judicial power in Suriname since Chapter I of the 1975 Constitution was abrogated. That Chapter provided that judges were not removable from office whereas at present they serve at the pleasure of the Political Center. In addition, writs of habeas corpus no longer exist, a consequence of the lack of judicial authority over cases involving crimes which allegedly threaten state security. The Commission also notes in relation to this right, that the climate of fear which pervades the legal profession has resulted, inter alia, in the unwillingness of lawyers either consider leadership positions in the Bar Association or to defend political prisoners. This situation has, as a practical matter, meant that persons accused of political crimes are defenseless.

4. The Right to Free Thought and Expression given that at present there is no press freedom in Suriname. The only newspaper as well as the state run radio and television stations are officially and completely censored, and oftentimes journalists are subject to threats. In addition, the Right to Free opinion has been further jeopardized by the Council of Ministers' adoption of a decree which bans the possession, distribution, sale and importation of any work that might be considered threatening to national security or public morals.

5. Freedom of Association given the ban, de facto, of political parties and free labor unions. Likewise, this prohibition is discriminatory in that only the PALU party, to which a number of high ranking Government officials belong, may freely conduct its political activities.

6. Political Rights, given that the 1983-1986 Government Programs fails to guarantee, notwithstanding dispositions to the contrary found in the American Declaration of the rights and Duties of Man, a system based on universal suffrage, secret ballot and the rights of all Surinamese citizens to participate in the conduct of public affairs. The Commission also notes that the creation of Peoples' Committees, popular militias and other similar organizations, more than simply establishing new forms of participation, signal a development aimed at preventing participation b all Surinamese citizens in the governance of their country on a non-discriminatory basis. As a result the Commission is of the view that the institutionalization currently being undertaken fails to offer a free choice to the people of Suriname in selecting their political destiny.

7. Given the magnitude and gravity of the violations that have been committed, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights exhorts the Government of Suriname to radically correct both its conduct and its legislation in order to reestablish democratic institutions including an independent judiciary as well as respect for fundamental human rights.


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