Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 1997 - Suriname, 1 January 1997, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6a9f97c.html [accessed 29 March 2015]
This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.
The authorities announced that an investigation would take place into the extrajudicial execution of 15 people allegedly carried out by the army in 1982. There were fears for the safety of relatives of the victims and human rights activists who received death threats after the investigation was requested. In September, Jules Wijdenbosch of the Nationale Democratische Partij (NDP), National Democratic Party, replaced Ronald Venetiaan as President after being elected by members of the National Assembly and regional and district councils, in accordance with the Constitution. There was concern about the commitment of the new government to ensuring respect for human rights because of allegations that Desi Bouterse, the founder and leader of the NDP, had been responsible for human rights violations. Desi Bouterse ruled Suriname as head of the army between 1980 and 1988 and again between 1990 and 1991, in both cases as a result of a coup, during which time the army allegedly carried out detention without charge or trial, torture and extrajudicial executions. In December 1995, the National Assembly had passed a resolution calling on the government to carry out an investigation into the extrajudicial execution of 15 people in December 1982 (see Amnesty International Reports 1983 and 1984) and other human rights violations alleged to have been carried out by the army under the command of Desi Bouterse. In January, the then President, Ronald Venetiaan, publicly stated that his government would launch such an investigation. By the time of the parliamentary elections in May the inquiry had not been initiated, and by December no action had been taken by the new government to implement the resolution. In the first half of the year, relatives of the 15 victims and human rights activists reportedly received anonymous death threats. Some were provided with police protection. In April, the home of Henri Behr, President of the group of relatives of the victims, was fire-bombed. In March, Amnesty International sought information regarding the terms of reference of the inquiry into the 1982 extrajudicial executions. In April, the organization requested that the authorities investigate the fire-bomb attack on the home of Henri Behr. Later that month an Amnesty International delegation visited Suriname to monitor the progress of the inquiry into the 1982 killings. Meetings were held with government officials, relatives of the victims and human rights organizations. Following the visit, the organization wrote to President Venetiaan expressing concern at the continued delay in instituting the inquiry and asking whether an investigation had been carried out into the fire-bomb attack. In October, the same letter was sent to President Wijdenbosch. No reply had been received by the end of the year.