Republic of Suriname

Covers the period from April 2001 to March 2004.

Population: 432,000 (163,000 under 18)
Government armed forces: 1,840 (estimate)
Compulsory recruitment age: no conscription
Voluntary recruitment age: not known
Voting age: 18
Optional Protocol: signed 10 May 2002
Other treaties ratified (see glossary): CRC, GC AP I and II

No information was available on the presence of under-18s in the armed forces or the minimum age of recruitment.


Investigations by a court in the Netherlands into allegations that 15 journalists, academics and labour leaders were killed at an army centre in Suriname in 1982 were halted. In September 2001 the Netherlands Supreme Court ruled that the investigation, based on the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, could not proceed, in part because the crimes were committed before the Convention became binding in the Netherlands.1 Former military ruler Desi Bouterse had been accused of involvement in the killings by the sole survivor, who had since died.2 Prosecution efforts in Suriname had not concluded in March 2004. Despite these allegations and a conviction in absentia by a Netherlands court for drug trafficking, Desi Bouterse, who seized power in coups in 1980 and 1990, was nominated presidential candidate of the National Democratic Party for the 2005 elections.3


National recruitment legislation and practice

Under the 1987 constitution, as amended in 1992, military service, or a civilian equivalent, is compulsory for people between the ages of 18 and 35.4 However, in its initial report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in 1998, the government stated that the Compulsory Military Service Act (Bulletin of Acts and Decrees 1970, No. 98) had been repealed and that military service was no longer compulsory.5 No information was available on the minimum age of voluntary recruitment.

The armed forces, under the control of the Ministry of Defence, were responsible for national security and border control. The police, under the Ministries of Interior and Justice, bore primary responsibility for maintaining law and order. However in 2003, in response to increasing crime, the government implemented "Operation Safe Suriname" in which the military jointly patrolled with the police in the capital and in remote areas of the country near large commercial enterprises. Among factors hampering police effectiveness were corruption and lack of equipment and training.6

1 International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Advisory service on international humanitarian law, National case law: Netherlands,; Amnesty International, Suriname: Government commitments and human rights, 7 February 2003,

2 Amnesty International Report 2002.

3 Amnesty International Report 2004.

4 Constitution,

5 Initial report of Suriname to UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Doc. CRC/C/28/Add.11, 23 September 1998,

6 US Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices 2003, February 2004,


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