Last Updated: Thursday, 17 April 2014, 13:11 GMT

World Report - Surinam

Publisher Reporters Without Borders
Publication Date August 2010
Cite as Reporters Without Borders, World Report - Surinam, August 2010, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4d594645c.html [accessed 18 April 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.
  • Area: 163,270 sq. km.
  • Population: 480,000
  • Langue: Dutch
  • Head of state: Desi Bouterse, since August 2010

A single case of censorship on the direct orders of the government has been recorded in the past few years. Surinam has never settled the accounts of the dictatorship of Colonel Desi Bouterse (1980-1991) during which opposition journalists were murdered. Bouterse has been returned to power by an election in 2010.

The strategic interests of a country can sometimes clash with freedom of expression, despite it being recognised as a constitutional right. The public channel Surinam Television Foundation (STVS) had this bitter experience, on 10 May 2007, when its programme "Surinam Today" was abruptly pulled from the schedule. The debate and reports due to be aired were to be on the sensitive issue of relations between China and Taiwan since the establishment of the People's Republic of China in 1949. China still regards Taiwan as an integral part of its territory. Vice-president Ram Sardjoe demanded that STVS drop the programme in the interests of good relations between Paramaribo and Beijing. Producer and editor of "Surinam Today", Nita Ramcharan said that one of her journalists had come under pressure and been threatened by Chinese diplomats after doing an interview with the Chinese ambassador.

Episodes of this kind are rare in a country where freedom of the press is hardly ever breached and where journalists' organisations have recorded no cases of serious assault in the past few years. Direct state censorship of a programme nevertheless harks back to a not so distant time in which press freedom was barely tolerated.

Surinam has not forgotten the executions of 15 politicians, lawyers and journalists on 8 December 1982 at the height of the Bouterse dictatorship, which ran from 1980 to 1991. Bouterse could still get a 20-year jail sentence in Surinam if convicted of this massacre, but he has been returned to power by an election in 2010.

Updated : August 2010

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