Suriname risks international tribunal if amnesty granted over 1982 killings

(de Ware Tijd) PARAMARIBO/THE HAGUE – The state of Suriname risks being brought before an international tribunal in case Parliament approves a statutory change granting amnesty for the so-called December murders of 1982. The disgrace will be even bigger than in the case of a national conviction of main suspect Desi Bouterse and 24 other suspects.

This is the opinion expressed by lawyer Freddy Kruisland and public administration expert August Boldewijn in separate interviews with de Ware Tijd. The perpetrators of 8 December 1982 will certainly go scot-free if a bill of Parliamentarians Melvin Bouva, André Misiekaba, Ronny Tamsiran, Rashied Doekhie, Anton Paal and Ricardo Panka to amend the ‘1989 Amnesty Act’ is approved. Just like Kruisland and Boldwijn, former President Ronald Venetiaan too disapproves of the proposal. He points out that the criminal acts covered under the 1989 Amnesty Act cannot be compared to the December murders. The Amnesty Act covers the period 1985-89 and regards crimes committed as part of an armed conflict including robbery, rape, arson, assault and manslaughter. “It was different in December 1982. The people were killed while in detention and powerless. That comparison is invalid”, says Venetiaan, who proclaimed the Amnesty Act in 1992 as President. Suspect Ruben Rozendaal believes politicians should stay out of this matter. “These Parliamentarians should not involve themselves in this case, as they don’t know what happened on 8 December”, is all Rozendaal wants to say.

Rozendaal too believes amnesty can be granted only after the trial is over. To Venetiaan, the Parliamentarians’ intentions are very clear. “They want to sabotage the trial, which is nearing the end and doesn’t look good for the suspects”, he says. “If this is pushed through, it will be a black page in Parliament’s history”, Kruisland says. Technically, the proposal by Bouva et. al. is no good at all, as it does not mention specific events and crimes and names. Kruisland adds that one major difference is that the December murder case is being prosecuted and tried, while this was not the case when amnesty was granted in 1989.

According to article 131 section 3 of the Constitution, amnesty is not possible in the case of the December murders. Any interference is prohibited, including by Parliament. Boldewijn would like to see the people express their opinion about this matter through a referendum. He believes the people should be consulted first, and then an amnesty law could be submitted. “Let the court rule first, so the next of kin and community will know exactly what happened then,” he adds.



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