(de Ware Tijd) PARAMARIBO – It is important to take social circumstances into consideration in the debates on the Amnesty issue. The proposed amendments to the 1989 Amnesty Act should also be thoroughly debated in open discussions in Parliament, while a thorough study should be made of the legal foundation and its implementation in existing legislation. Albert Ramdin, assistant secretary general of the Organization of American States (OAS), is unequivocal on this issue to de Ware Tijd. The diplomat has been bombarded with letters, e-mails and telephone calls from international organizations in the past two weeks for his reaction on this thorny issue. He discussed the issue with Speaker of Parliament Jennifer Geerlings-Simons, who was in Washington earlier this week for an OAS meeting. ‘In the past decades, Suriname has witnessed strengthening of democracy and the constitutional state, and has expressed the separation of powers: the legislative, the executive and judicial authorities. The independence, authority and functioning of these three constitutional institutions of the republic should be respected at all times.’ Ramdin points out that the Amnesty issue is a very complex issue involving constitutional, legal, historical, administrative, social and personal aspects for Suriname. The 1989 Amnesty Act and the proposed amendments are firstly a matter for Suriname, the OAS official says from Washington. Parliament, as legislative body, has absolute authority to propose and approve of amendments. Yet, it is necessary to put this case up for open debates and consider the legal aspects and implementation in existing legislation. The manner in which society deals with this issue requires exchange of information at a broad level and consulting with every social organization to find out what other elements should be taken into consideration and possibly be added to this bill, Ramdin says. He adds that this is not the 1980s and that social reality has changed. ‘Democracy has been strengthened through general elections which have resulted in democratically chosen presidents and legislatures. Political stability and peace in society are elements to realize social-economic growth. Against the background of current challenges and the international context of social-economic growth, it is essential that dialogue, consultation and an effort aimed at consensus prevail,’ says Ramdin.