Covering events from January - December 2003

Impunity for killings committed under military rule in the 1980s continued to be a major issue. Also of concern were reports of police brutality.


President Ronald Venetiaan reportedly put the government and security forces on a security alert in the run-up to the 25 February anniversary of the military coup in 1980 which brought Desi Bouterse to power. In July, the National Democratic Party (NDP) formally nominated Desi Bouterse as its presidential candidate for the 2005 elections. Meanwhile, Desi Bouterse's son was accused of leading a raid on a weapons depot in July 2002 in which assault rifles and other equipment were said to have been stolen. When the case was brought to trial, the robbery charges against him were dropped, and he was released pending trial on weapons charges.

In March the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination noted a number of violations of the rights of indigenous communities including discrimination, lack of recognition of their rights to land and resources, and failure to consult them about forestry and mining concessions affecting their environment.

In June the USA included Suriname on a list of countries accused of insufficient efforts to comply with minimum standards for combating human trafficking. The report described trafficking of women and children, primarily for prostitution. In July, the Minister of Justice and Police announced the formation of a commission to study the question.


1982 'December murders'

The investigation continued into the 1982 "December murders" in which 15 journalists, academics and labour leaders were extrajudicially executed at Fort Zeelandia, an army centre in Paramaribo. The homes of the Minister of Justice and Police and of the investigating judge were broken into in early 2003 and documents relating to the case were reportedly taken from their respective houses. A suspect was arrested, although no information on the motive for the burglaries or their possible relation to the investigation was known to have been made public.

1986 Moiwana massacre

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights review of the 1986 Moiwana massacre case, submitted to the Court's jurisdiction by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in December 2002, began. The petition regarding the November 1986 massacre, in which 35 people, mostly women and children, were killed during an attack by a specialized military unit, was brought by the non-governmental organization Moiwana '86.

Allegation of police brutality

Three men, reportedly suspected of embezzlement, were allegedly beaten with batons in the Nieuwe Haven police station on 18 May. Several days later, the public prosecutor announced that the case would be investigated; it is not known whether an investigation had been initiated at the end of the year.

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