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Attacks on the Press in 1997 - Suriname

Publisher Committee to Protect Journalists
Publication Date February 1998
Cite as Committee to Protect Journalists, Attacks on the Press in 1997 - Suriname, February 1998, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/47c5654f30.html [accessed 17 September 2014]
DisclaimerThis 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.

Press freedom has generally been respected in Suriname, since power was handed over to democratically elected president Ronald Venetiaan of the Nieuw Front party in 1991. As 1997 drew to a close, however, several journalists in Suriname say they received threatening phone calls accusing them of destabilizing the government.

The roots of the current tension date back to 1975, when Suriname was granted independence from The Netherlands. The military has dominated the country since then, holding power during eight of the 23 years since independence. Military repression culminated on December 8, 1982, when strongman Desi Bouterse ordered the execution of 15 political opponents of his regime, among them five journalists. In response, Suriname lost Dutch development aid, which led to the country's rapid impoverishment.

The 1996 elections brought Bouterse's supporters, now affiliated with the National Democratic Party, back into political power. After the Dutch government issued an international arrest warrant for Bouterse on drug trafficking charges, newly elected president Jules Wijdenbosch appointed Bouterse as Advisor of State, thereby granting him diplomatic immunity.

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