UN Human Rights Commission slams Suriname for Amnesty Law

The UN Human Rights Commission has responded to Suriname’s third periodic report on human rights in a largely critical manner.

The Commission says they welcome Suriname’s report but make sure to note that it is 5 years late.

One of the most prominent points of contention concerns impunity. On this topic they say:

“The Committee is concerned by the fact that in April 2012 the National Assembly adopted an amendment to the 1992 Amnesty Act extending the period covered by the amnesty from April 1980 to August 1992. It also expresses concern over the State party’s reliance on this amendment and the absence of the yet-to-be-established Constitutional Court to suspend the prosecution brought against President Desire Bouterse and 24 others accused of the extrajudicial executions of 15 political opponents in December 1982, as required by communications Nos. 146/1983, 148/1983154/1983, Baboeram- Adhin et al. v. Suriname. Furthermore, the Moiwana massacre of 1986 and other grave human rights violations, which occurred during the de facto military regime, continue to go unpunished. Lastly, the Committee notes with concern the delegation’s acknowledgement of the reluctance of some witnesses to testify in relation to the Moiwana case (arts. 6 and 7).

Recalling its previous recommendation (CCPR/CO/80/SUR, para. 7), the State party should repeal the Amnesty Act. It should also comply forthwith with international human rights law requiring accountability for those responsible for serious human rights violations in respect of which States are required to bring perpetrators to justice, including by completing the pending criminal prosecutions. In this regard, the Committee draws attention to its general comment No. 31 (2004), that States parties may not relieve the perpetrators of acts such as torture, arbitrary or extra-judicial killings or enforced disappearance of their personal responsibility (para. 18). The State party should also ensure the effective protection of witnesses and diligently enquire into all cases of suspected witness intimidation.”

They also cited and gave recommendations for areas such as gender and LGBT equality, human trafficking, and detention conditions as needing improvement.

At last month’s presentation, Suriname’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Henry MacDonald, highlighted the strides the country had made citing examples such as the abolition of the death penalty, the establishment of new domestic violence laws as well as establishing disability policies across many sectors.

The Commission’s response acknowledges these improvements but has much more to say on areas requiring further work.

VHP MP Krishna Mathoera commented on the Commission’s previous criticisms saying that the nation has a moral obligation to do better and could also face economic blowback with decreased foreign investment.