Covering events from January-December 2001

Republic of Suriname
Head of state: Ronald Venetiaan
Head of government: Jules Ajodhia
Capital: Paramaribo
Population: 0.4 million
Official language: Dutch
Death penalty: abolitionist in practice

Impunity continued to be a major issue in 2001. Conditions of detention contributed to several prison riots. The authorities announced investigations into reports of ill-treatment. In the follow-up to the UN World Conference against Racism in September, the Netherlands government expressed regret for past slavery in Suriname, its former colony.


In January, Dutch courts opened an inquiry, based on the UN Convention against Torture, into the 1982 "December murders" in which 15 journalists, academics and labour leaders were extrajudicially executed at Fort Zeelandia, an army centre in Paramaribo. However, in September the Dutch Supreme Court ruled that the case could not proceed, in part on the grounds that the crime was committed before the Convention was ratified and became binding in the Netherlands. Prosecution efforts continued in Suriname. Trade unionist and political leader Fred Derby, sole survivor of the massacre who had implicated former military leader Desi Bouterse in the events, died in May.

Conditions of detention

Conditions of detention, including severe overcrowding, remained a cause for concern. Riots prompted by overcrowding took place in police stations in January and March. In August, the death of a detainee in Keizerstraat police station, apparently of illness, contributed to a revolt among other detainees against overcrowding and poor conditions. The most serious riot took place in August in Duisburglaan prison, in which inmates set fire to cells. The Minister of Justice and Police ordered an investigation. At the same prison in April, an inmate had been shot dead by a prison guard during an escape attempt.

In February government authorities announced the allocation of funds to rehabilitate the prison system and relieve overcrowding.


In June the Minister of Justice and Police ordered an investigation into alleged police misconduct. He announced in July that police skills training would include education in human rights.

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