Republic of Suriname
Republiek Suriname
Joined United Nations:  4 December 1975
Human Rights as assured by their constitution
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Updated 16 September 2012
560,157 (July 2012 est.)
Dési Bouterse
President since 12 August 2010
President and vice president elected by the National Assembly
or, if no presidential or vice presidential candidate receives a
two-thirds constitutional majority in the National Assembly after
two votes, by a simple majority in the larger United People's
Assembly for five-year terms (no term limits); election last held
19 July 2010

Next scheduled election: July 2015
Robert Ameerali
Vice President since 12 August 2010
The president is both chief of state and head of government
Hindustani (also known locally as "East Indians"; their ancestors emigrated from northern India in the latter part of the
19th century) 37%, Creole (mixed white and black) 31%, Javanese 15%, "Maroons" (their African ancestors were
brought to the country in the 17th and 18th centuries as slaves and escaped to the interior) 10%, Amerindian 2%,
Chinese 2%, white 1%, other 2%
Hindu 27.4%, Protestant 25.2% (predominantly Moravian), Roman Catholic 22.8%, Muslim 19.6%, indigenous
beliefs 5%
Constitutional democracy comprised of 10 districts (distrikten, singular - distrikt);  Legal system is based on Dutch
legal system incorporating French penal theory; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations
Executive: president and vice president elected on the same ticket by two-thirds constitutional majority in the National
Assembly after two votes, by a simple majority in the larger United People's Assembly for a five-year term (no term limits);
election last held 19 July 2010; (next to be held in July 2015)
Legislative: Unicameral National Assembly or Nationale Assemblee (51 seats; members are elected by popular
vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: last held 19 July 2010 (next to be held in July 2015)
Judicial: Cantonal Courts and a Court of Justice as an appellate court (justices are nominated for life)
Dutch (official), English (widely spoken), Sranang Tongo (Surinamese, sometimes called Taki-Taki, is native
language of Creoles and much of the younger population and is lingua franca among others), Hindustani (a dialect of
Hindi), Javanese
The economy is dominated by the mining industry, with exports of alumina, gold, and oil accounting for about 85% of
exports and 25% of government revenues, making the economy highly vulnerable to mineral price volatility.
Economic growth, which reached about 7% in 2008, owing to sizeable foreign investment in mining and oil, slowed
to 2.2% in 2009 as investment waned and the country earned less from its commodity exports when global prices for
most commodities fell. Trade picked up, boosting Suriname's economic growth in 2010 to 4.4%, but the
government's budget remained strained, with increased social spending during the election. Inflation rose from 1.3%
in 2009 to 6.9% in 2010. In January 2011, the government devalued the currency by 20% and raised taxes to
reduce the budget deficit. Suriname's economic prospects for the medium term will depend on continued
commitment to responsible monetary and fiscal policies and to the introduction of structural reforms to liberalize
markets and promote competition.
CIA World Factbook (select Suriname)
The economy is dominated by the mining industry, with exports of alumina, gold, and oil accounting for about 85% of
exports and 25% of government revenues, making the economy highly vulnerable to mineral price volatility. In 2000,
the government of Ronald VENETIAAN, returned to office and inherited an economy with inflation of over 100%
and a growing fiscal deficit. He quickly implemented an austerity program, raised taxes, attempted to control
spending, and tamed inflation. Economic growth reached about 6% in 2007 and 2008, owing to sizeable foreign
investment in mining and oil. Suriname has received aid for projects in the bauxite and gold mining sectors from
Netherlands, Belgium, and the European Development Fund. The economy contracted in 2009, however, as
investment waned and the country earned less from its commodity exports when global prices for most commodities
fell. As trade picks up, Suriname's economic outlook for 2010 has improved, but the government's budget is likely to
remain strained, with increased social spending in this election year. Suriname's economic prospects for the medium
term will depend on continued commitment to responsible monetary and fiscal policies and to the introduction of
structural reforms to liberalize markets and promote competition.
 A legislative election was held in Suriname on 25
May 2010.

Nine parties contested the election. Pre-election polls suggested a share of 41% of the vote going to the "Mega
Combination" coalition, that includes the National Democratic Party of former dictator Dési Bouterse. The ruling
Nieuw Front (NF) had around 22.5% support. There were 324,490 people registered to vote in the election which
would determine the holders of 51 parliament seats, 116 regional positions and 752 municipal positions.

Preliminary results issued on 26 May 2010 showed the Mega Combination winning a plurality of 23 seats of 51, up
from 15 in the last election.

In the run-up to the presidential election on 19 July 2010, Bouterse convinced the A Combinatie to join forces with
him, giving him a 30-seat majority; immediately before the election, he succeeded in getting the People's Alliance to
join him, giving him the votes required to become president.
Wikipedia: Politics of Suriname
Area claimed by French Guiana between Riviere Litani and Riviere Marouini (both headwaters of the Lawa);
Suriname claims a triangle of land between the New and Kutari/Koetari rivers in a historic dispute over the
headwaters of the Courantyne; Guyana seeks United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)
arbitration to resolve the long-standing dispute with Suriname over the axis of the territorial sea boundary in
potentially oil-rich waters
U.S. State Department
United Nations Human
Rights Council
Amnesty International
Human Rights Watch
Freedom House
None reported.
Growing transshipment point for South American drugs destined for Europe via the Netherlands and Brazil;
transshipment point for arms-for-drugs dealing
Moiwana Mensenrechten-
Organisatie Suriname
2011 Human Rights Report: Suriname
Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
11 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
24, 2012

Suriname is a constitutional democracy, with a president elected by the unicameral National Assembly or by the larger United
People’s Assembly. After generally free and fair legislative elections in May 2010, several political alliances formed a coalition
government. The National Assembly elected former military leader Desire Bouterse president in July 2010. Security forces reported
to civilian authorities.

The most serious human rights problems were overcrowded detention facilities, lengthy pretrial detention, and governmental

Other human rights problems included self-censorship by some media organizations and journalists; societal discrimination against
women, Maroons, indigenous people, and other minorities; domestic violence against women; trafficking in persons; and child labor
in the informal sector.

The government continued to take steps to prosecute abusers in the security forces, where there was a widespread perception of
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18 August 2011
Human Rights Council
Eighteenth session
Agenda item 3
Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil,
political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to
Report of the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous
peoples, James Anaya
Measures needed to secure indigenous and tribal peoples’ land and
related rights in Suriname

The present report was sent to the Government of Suriname and made public in April 2011. In the report, the Special Rapporteur
makes observations and recommendations
to assist the State in the development of laws and administrative measures to secure the
rights of indigenous and tribal peoples in Suriname, in particular their rights over lands and
natural resources. The report is provided
in the context of a request by the Government of
Suriname and its Ministry of Regional Development for technical and advisory
as it develops the legislative and administrative measures necessary to secure the territorial and other rights of the
indigenous and tribal peoples of Suriname. The Special Rapporteur
responded positively to this request and proposed that, as a
preliminary step, he carry out a
visit to the country to meet with relevant stakeholders regarding his possible assistance. The
Government agreed to the visit, which was carried out from 13 to 16 March 2011.

The observations and recommendations made build on discussions held during the Special Rapporteur’s visit. After a brief
assessment of the State’s international legal
obligations with regard to the rights of indigenous and tribal peoples, the Special
Rapporteur outlines a process for moving towards developing legislation and related administrative measures to secure these rights.
The Special Rapporteur also includes suggestions about the basic contents of the legislation, while emphasizing that this
legislation should be the outcome of a participatory process, assisted by relevant international institutions, in which indigenous and
tribal peoples are themselves involved.

The Special Rapporteur anticipates that the present note may be followed by further consultations with the Government and with
indigenous and tribal peoples in Suriname, and stands ready to make additional comments and recommendations as progress is made
towards the adoption of legislation to secure these peoples’ rights.

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Political Rights Score: 2
Civil Liberties Score: 2
Status: Free

Suriname’s strained relations with the Netherlands and the United States improved somewhat in 2011 following the 2010 election of
former dictator Desiré Bouterse as president. He had been convicted on drug-trafficking charges in the Netherlands, and has been
accused of killing his political opponents in the 1980s.

Bouterse’s Mega Combination coalition—comprising the NDP and three smaller parties—won legislative elections held in May
2010, capturing 40 percent of the vote and 23 seats in the parliament. The NF placed second, with approximately 32 percent of the
vote and 14 seats. In the July presidential election, Bouterse won with 70.6 percent of the parliamentary vote, defeating NF
candidate Chandrikapersad Santokhi. As president, Bouterse had the power to grant amnesty to those involved in the 1982 murders,
but the charges had not been dropped by the end of 2011. The ongoing trial was suspended again in October, when 19 defense
witnesses failed to appear.

Only Bharrat Jagdeo, neighboring Guyana’s president, attended Bouterse’s August 2010 inauguration. International travel was also
difficult for Bouterse, with an Interpol warrant out for his arrest and a drug-trafficking conviction in the Netherlands still
outstanding. However, he remained protected from arrest in Suriname because the country lacked an extradition treaty with the
Netherlands, and as head of state, he was immune from prosecution abroad.

Foreign relations, which had been damaged following Bouterse’s election, underwent some improvements in 2011. In August, the
Netherlands announced that it would cooperate with Suriname on trade and economic issues, as well as on containing illegal
immigration. The United States announced its intentions to normalize relations with Suriname after the country repaid a portion of
its U.S. debt; in October, the two governments signed a antinarcotics agreement. Suriname also hosted several international
conferences during the year that helped raise its stature before the international community.

Suriname is an electoral democracy. The Organization of American States reported that the 2010 legislative and presidential
elections met international standards. The 1987 constitution provides for a unicameral, 51-seat National Assembly, elected by
proportional representation for five-year terms. The body elects the president to five-year terms with a two-thirds majority. If it is
unable to do so, a United People’s Assembly—consisting of lawmakers from the national, regional, and local levels—convenes to
choose the president by a simple majority. A Council of State made up of the president and representatives of major societal
groupings—including labor unions, business, the military, and the legislature—has veto power over legislation deemed to violate the

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Friday 13 April 2012

Following the adoption by the Surinamese National Assembly of an amendment to the 1992 amnesty law, Amnesty International
wishes to remind
the judiciary of Suriname of its obligation to uphold human rights law in the trial of the current President and
other co-defendants for their alleged
involvement in the extra-judicial execution of 15 political opponents in December 1982, and
any other trials that might seek justice in cases of
human rights violations committed during the period covered by the amnesty

Suriname: Justice at a crossroads
No historic moment is more critical for a Judiciary than when it faces the
responsibility of bringing to justice former or current
heads of State. It is in
these moments that the principle of separation of powers, which are generally enshrined in Constitutions, and
of independence is subject to maximum
pressure. There is no country in the world where such a critical moment has been resolved
with ease. The problems faced by former Prime Minister
Berlusconi in Italy are well known, as are those faced in the past by
President Augusto Pinochet in Chile and in the United Kingdom, and President Nixon who was forced to resign but who
was never put on trial. In some
countries, this critical moment has not even arrived due to the complete submission of the Judiciary
to the Executive, as in the case of Sudan, whose
President is the subject of an arrest warrant issued by the International
Criminal Court.

In the case of the Americas, the decades of the 1970s and 1980s were characterized by the arrival to power of dictatorial regimes
which committed
crimes of international law and gross human rights violations and which, whether during their time in power or in
the context of transitions to the
restoration of the rule of law, wanted to benefit from amnesty laws. In some cases, these in fact
amounted to self-amnesties. Many of these laws, such as
the ones in Uruguay, Chile, Peru Brazil and Argentina were declared by the
Inter-American Court of Human Rights to be in violation of the American
Convention on Human Rights. It is well known that trials
against heads of
State have been initiated in many countries in the region: Jorge Videla in Argentina, Juan María Bordaberry and
Gregorio Álvarez in Uruguay, Alberto
Fujimori in Peru and José Efraín Ríos Montt in Guatemala.

The manner in which this critical moment is dealt with by a country’s Judiciary is of historical importance for the very same
Judiciary and furthermore for the rule of law.

The justice system in Suriname is currently living through one of these critical moments in which its independence is being
subjected to pressure by the current President’s barely disguised attempt to escape justice for his alleged participation in the murder
in December 1982 of 15 opponents of the military regime which he himself then headed.

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Suriname: Revoke Amnesty Legislation
Self-Immunity for President Undermines Access to Justice
April 18, 2012

(Washington, DC) – Suriname should immediately revoke the amnesty law approved on April 5, 2012, by the National Assembly,
and prosecute people accused of committing grave human rights violations, Human Rights Watch said today.

The National Assembly of Suriname amended an existing amnesty law to extend its coverage to offenses “in the context of the
defense of the State” between April 1, 1980, and August 19, 1992, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights reported. Among
those who will gain immunity are President Desi Bouterse and 24 others who were on trial for the alleged abduction and murder of
15 prominent political opponents, including journalists, lawyers, and a trade union leader, in December 1982. The law also covers
the killing of 19 soldiers by rebels during the 1986-92 civil war, Bouterse said.

“These international crimes are too serious to be amnestied and forgotten,” said José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human
Rights Watch. “Bouterse's self-amnesty blocks justice for gross human rights violations, which Suriname has the obligation to
investigate and prosecute.”

News media accounts say that Bouterse accepted “political responsibility” for the December 1982 killings but said that he was not
present when they occurred. Witnesses have allegedly disputed those claims during the trial, which began in 2007, but had been
repeatedly stalled. News media also reported that the governing coalition in the National Assembly included language in the law to
establish a truth commission to investigate the December 1982 killings, and excluded from the amnesty the massacre of at least 39
ethnic Maroons by soldiers during the country's civil war.

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights have expressed
deep concern regarding Suriname's amnesty legislation, saying that it violates the State's obligations to investigate and prosecute
human rights abuses, and to ensure that abuse victims have access to justice, truth, and reparations.while self-employed persons
have to prove sufficient profit for the current and immediately preceding financial years).
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April 9, 2012

On September 30, 1987 the people of Suriname approved, by more than 80% majority vote, a new constitution for the Republic of

Based on these provisions, a group of members of the National Assembly took the initiative to introduce a bill aimed at amending
the Amnesty Law of 1992, which stipulates that all criminal offenses, as defined by that law, committed in the period from
January 1, 1985 through 19 August 1992 will be exempt from prosecution. This law did not cover the complete period from
1980 through 1987, and had no provision whatsoever for the establishment of a Truth Commission, and therefore only partially
led to creating conditions to restrain the enormous tensions in our community, and as a result did not achieve complete peace and

After lengthy discussions in the National Assembly the amended law, heeding the principle of equality established in Article 8 of
the constitution, aims to end the discriminatory aspects of the 1992 Amnesty Law by expanding the period of amnesty to read
from April 1, 1980 through August 19, 1992. It also for the first time calls for the establishment by law of a Commission of
Truth and Reconciliation which, since 1998, had already been recommended by the national conference “Truth and Justice: In
Search of Reconciliation in Suriname”, held with technical assistance of the Inter-­American Institute of Human Rights (IIHR) and
participation of the “Organisatie voor Gerechtigheid en Vrede” (OGV) and the government of Suriname.

The granting of amnesty has its own value, merit and meaning. It is therefore not merely a technical juridical question, but above
all a matter of social political concern, and thus needs to be implemented together with finding truth and bringing reconciliation. It
is imperative, when granting amnesty, to take into consideration sentiments of the society as a whole, in particular of all the groups
and individuals immediately involved and impacted. The aim should be to open avenues for achieving complete and lasting
reconciliation, harmony and peace in the nation.

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Human rights organization Moiwana '86 finds too much violence in society - Possible to Int. Day for Human Rights
jogging against violence
in News , Suriname
August 25, 2012

Human rights organization Moiwana '86 notes that there are still many manifestations of violence in society. According paralegal
Renatha Samson in the Times of Suriname on 25 August 2012, refers to various forms of violence, which concerns the

It has been observed that violence is used against women, children, but also in traffic. It also notes an increase in violence in the

It is Moiwana a concern that women and children victims of domestic violence and that many people die in traffic. Therefore, the
human rights organization according Samson busy gathering resources to a pedestrian walk against violence organized. Moiwana
hopes the means to get inside, so on December 10, the International Day of Human Rights, the walking course can be held.

It also wants to elaborate on that day violence in society. Moiwana strives to educate the community aware of any reprehensible
violent acts that are happening around us. "We want people to point out that there are different forms of violence. If they continue
to use violence, others keep a traumatized, "said Samson. She also knows forms of violence, including fathers or other relatives
money gamble in casinos and children below lead.
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Silent protest march Tuesday, April 10 against renewed amnesty
in News , Suriname
April 4, 2012

Social and church organizations Wednesday, April 4 called for holding a silent protest against the treatment and likely adoption of
the amnesty law. The silent protest march will be held Tuesday, April 10 and will start at four o'clock in the afternoon at the
Church Square.

The organizations want this protest concerns about the many attacks on the rule of law to express. In particular, it attempts to
criminal proceedings around 8 December murders pending before the Court Martial stop.

In the call, all right-minded citizens of Suriname called to participate. "Leave your worries turn and walk along," the call.

The organizations behind the protest program are: the Committee Conservation Democratic Constitutional Suriname, the
Organization for Justice and Peace, Foundation 8 December, the Moiwana Human Rights Organization Suriname, the
Inter-Religious Council of Suriname, the Committee Christian Churches, the Confederation C-47, State Oil Workers Organization,
the RBC Employees Organization and the Association of Teachers.
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The history of Suriname dates from 3000 BCE, when Native Americans first inhabited the area. Present-day
Suriname was the home to many distinct indigenous cultures. The largest tribes were the Arawaks, a nomadic coastal
tribe that lived from hunting and fishing, and the Caribs. The Arawaks (Kali'na) were the first inhabitants of Suriname;
later, the Caribs arrived, and conquered the Arawaks using their sailing ship. They settled in Galibi (Kupali Yumï,
meaning "tree of the forefathers") on the mouth of the Marowijne river. While the larger Arawak and Carib tribes
lived off the coast and savanna, smaller groups of indigenous peoples lived in the rainforest inland, such as the
Akurio, Trió, Wayarekule, Warrau, and Wayana. The first Europeans who came to Suriname were Dutch traders
who visited the area along with other parts of the South America's 'Wild Coast.' The first attempts to settle the area
by Europeans was in 1630, when English settlers led by Captain Marshall attempted to found a colony. They
cultivated crops of tobacco, but the venture failed. In 1651 a second attempt to establish an English colony was
made by Lord Willoughby, the governor of Barbados. The expedition was led by Anthony Rowse, who established
a colony and called it 'Willoughbyland.' It consisted of around 500 sugar plantations and a fort (Fort Willoughby).
Most of the work was done by the 2000 African slaves in the colony. There were around 1,000 whites there, soon
joined by other Europeans and Brazilian Jews. The settlement was invaded by the Dutch (from the Zeeland region),
led by Abraham Crijnssen, on 27 February 1667. Fort Willoughby was captured and renamed Fort Zeelandia. On
31 July 1667, the English and Dutch signed the Treaty of Breda, in which for the time being the status quo was
respected: the Dutch could keep occupying Suriname and the British the formerly Dutch colony New Amsterdam
(modern day New York). Willoughbyland was renamed Netherlands Guiana. This arrangement was made official in
the Treaty of Westminster of 1674, after the British had regained and again lost Suriname in 1667 and the Dutch
regained New Amsterdam in 1673. In the first half of the 18th century, agriculture flourished in Suriname. Most of
the work on the plantations was done by African slaves. The treatment of these slaves was bad, and many slaves
escaped to the jungle. These Maroons (also known as "Djukas" or "Bakabusi Nengre") often returned to attack the
plantations. Famous leaders of the Surinam Maroons were Alabi, Boni and Broos (Captain Broos). They formed a
sort of buffer zone between the Europeans who settled along the coast and main rivers, and the unconquered Native
American tribes of the inland regions. The Maroons have contributed significantly to the abolition of slavery. A
contemporary description of this situation in Suriname can be found in Narrative of a Five Years Expedition Against
the Revolted Negroes of Surinam by John Gabriel Stedman. Suriname was occupied by the British in 1799, after the
Netherlands were incorporated by France, and was returned to the Dutch in 1816, after the defeat of Napoleon.
The Dutch abolished slavery only in 1863—the last European nation to do so—although the British had already
abolished it during their short rule. The slaves were, however, not released until 1873; up to that date they conducted
obligatory but paid work at the plantations. In the meantime, many more workers had been imported from the
Netherlands East Indies, mostly Chinese inhabitants of that colony. After 1873, many Hindu laborers where
imported from India. This emigration was ended by Mohandas Gandhi in 1916. After that date, many laborers were
again imported from the Netherlands East Indies, especially Java. In the 20th century, the natural resources of
Suriname, rubber, gold and bauxite were exploited. The US company Alcoa had a claim on a large area in Suriname
where bauxite, from which aluminium can be made, was found. In 1954, Suriname gained self-government, with the
Netherlands retaining control of defence and foreign affairs. In 1973, the local government, led by the NPK (a
largely Creole party) started negotiations with the Dutch government about independence, which was granted at
November 25, 1975. The Dutch instituted an aid programme worth US$1.5 billion to last till 1985. The first
President of the country was Johan Ferrier, with Henck Arron (leader of the Surinam National Party) as Prime
Minister. Roughly a third of the population emigrated to the Netherlands, fearing that the new country would not be
able to survive. In 1980, the government of Henck Arron was overthrown in a military coup led by Sergeant-Major
Desi Bouterse. President Ferrier refused to recognise the new government, appointing Henk Chin A Sen (of the
Nationalist Republican Party). Another coup followed five months later, with the army replacing Ferrier with Chin A
Sen. The Dutch and Americans cut off their aid in protest at the move, leading to Bouterse looking towards countries
such as Grenada, Nicaragua, Cuba and Libya for help. In 1985, the ban on opposition parties was lifted, and work
began on devising a new constitution. The following year saw the start of an anti-government rebellion of the
Maroons in the interior, calling themselves the Jungle Commando and led by Ronnie Brunswijk. The Bouterse
government violently tried to suppress the insurgency by burning villages and other similar means. Many Maroons
fled to French Guiana. Elections were held in November 1987, with the 3-party anti-Bouterse coalition Front For
Democracy and Development winning 40 out 51 seats, and Dutch aid was resumed the following year. In August
1992 a peace treaty was signed with the Jungle Commando, bringing an end to the Maroon rebellion.
Meanwhile the
economy was facing serious difficulties owing to a fall in world prices for aluminium and large scale deficits.
Widespread strikes occurred in 1999 over the government's handling of the economy, with strikers calling for early
elections. Meanwhile, in 2000, relations between Suriname and Guyana soured over disputes about the country's
maritime boundary. It is thought the area could be rich in oil. In August 2001, the Dutch provided a triple A state
guarantee to enable the Surinamese government to receive a 10-year loan from the Dutch Development Bank
(NTO) to the amount of Euro 137.7 million (U.S.$125 million). To further help the economy the Surinamese guilder
was replaced with the Surinamese dollar in 2004. In the May 2005 elections, Venetiaan won another term in office.

In May 2006, torrential flooding left more than 20,000 homeless. In July 2007, a United Nations tribunal settled a
long-simmering maritime dispute between Suriname and Guyana. The UN redrew the maritime border to give both
countries access to an area potentially rich in oil deposits. The Mega Combination coalition, headed by former
dictator Dési Bouterse, won a two-thirds majority in May 2010's parliamentary elections. Parliament elected him
president in August.
Sources:  Wikipedia: History of Suriname
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None reported.