Consultations on Suriname amnesty law in full swing

(de Ware Tijd) PARAMARIBO – Both supporters and opponents of the controversial Amnesty Act are holding consultations with civil society this week. The Nieuw Front, which started its consolations Saturday, met with the Organization for Justice and Peace (OGV) chaired by Betty Goede, and surviving relatives yesterday. The Parliamentarians who submitted the bill started their round of talks yesterday and met with representatives of the Youth Parliament among others. All eyes are now on a closed session of Parliament when it will be decided to place the bill on the agenda again. Parliament Speaker Jennifer Geerlings-Simons knows it involves a “delicate issue”, and says she supports granting amnesty. “As early as 2003, I stated that a truth commission is the best way to close this issue. With all due respect to all parties, I’m convinced granting amnesty beforehand is the best way to let people speak freely”. “I’m glad the initiators of this bill now realize that you just can’t submit a bill of such social importance without hearing from civil society first. But they’re rather late with this. They should have done this earlier”, says Winston Jessurun (DA’91/NF). He says talks with many organizations have been scheduled for the coming days. Fraction leader Ricardo Panka (MC/NDP), one of the bill’s initiators, also stated in the media earlier yesterday that his group has made appointments with social organizations for the entire week. Theo Vishnudatt, chairman of the parliamentary reporting committee on the bill, says this committee will also meet with the initiators today in order to determine what preliminary advice will be given at Friday’s closed session. Vishnudatt now says he already knows that the advice will be to debate the bill in spite of national and international criticism. “I think the debate is good, and I believe the majority of the people support amnesty. The NDP obtained 23 seats in the last election, so this is proof that this is what the people want”, Vishnudatt adds. During the closed session, Jenny Simons must get permission from Parliament to convene a public session. Most of the NDP’s coalition partners will have wrapped up their internal consultations by then. Simons, who is currently abroad, says the public session can be held on Monday at the earliest.

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