Suriname: The Human Rights Committee denounces the Surinamese Amnesty Law and the ensuing culture of impunity

Overview of 115th Session - Suriname (webcast)

On October 21 2015, the Human Rights Committee began reviewing the third periodic report of Suriname to monitor the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Suriname presented a very small delegation composed of 3 individuals and submitted the written replies to the list of issues 24 hours before the beginning of the review. The discussion mainly focused on the Amnesty Law, the pending establishment of the Constitutional Court, as well as the right to land of indigenous people, torture, trafficking of persons, violence against children, freedom of access to information and the death penalty still in place in the military code.

The experts were particularly concerned by continuing impunity for past human rights violations including torture, summary executions and enforced disappearances. To support their claims, the experts cited the lack of progress on the Baboeram-Adhin case that has been pending since 1983. The Amnesty Law of 2012 was considered as a major factor contributing to the climate of impunity and the lack of punishment for past violations committed by the military regime. The incompatibility of this law with the Covenant was also underlined and thus the Committee asked the State party if it had any plans to repeal it. The State delegation replied that this is a matter to be decided by the Constitutional Court, which is pending to be established.

The other major area of concern revolved around the restitution of indigenous peoples' land. The Committee asked for up-to date information on the legal recognition of indigenous people's rights to their lands, in particular regarding the Saramaka people. Whereas the Surinamese delegation highlighted the low prevalence of discrimination cases despite the multicultural nature of the country, the experts pointed out that the return or compensation of lost indigenous land is also a matter of discrimination.

The Committee likewise questioned why Suriname had not yet signed the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment but the delegation stated that they were not in a position to answer this question and that they would pass on the message to their superiors. The absence of a legal definition of torture likewise worried the Committee who stressed the importance of criminalizing torture as an autonomous offence in order to properly punish the perpetrators.

With regards to human trafficking, the Committee recognized the efforts made by the State party to resolve the issue but asked further questions about the envisaged Anti-Trafficking Plan and emphasized the gravity of the issue.

While acknowledging the apparent willingness of the delegation to answer the questions posed by the Committee, one of the experts concluded by saying that the answers provided by the State were often unsatisfactory and that they were more akin to anecdotes than full replies.

The Concluding Observations for which the State should provide information on the implementation within one year, concern:

  • The effective functioning of the National Human Rights Institution
  • Impunity for past human rights violations
  • Judicial control of detention

The next (4th) periodic report should be submitted by the State party by 6 November 2020.

Rules of Procedure of the Human Rights Committee

Rules of Procedure of the Human Rights Committee CCPR/C/3/Rev.10

Arabic | Chinese | English | French | Russian | Spanish

CCPR NGO Participation

Documents adopted by the Human Rights Committee (March 2012)

English | French | Spanish | Russian | Handbook

CCPR NHRI Participation

Documents adopted by the Human Rights Committee (November 2012)

English | French | Spanish | Russian | Arabic | Chinese