Proposed amendment to Suriname Amnesty Act contrary to Moiwana Ruling – Inter-American human rights body

(de Ware Tijd) PARAMARIBO – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) concludes that the planned amendment to the Amnesty Act is an obstacle to the execution of the Moiwana ruling. The IACHR reminds that amnesty acts should never apply to cases of serious human rights violations to which the framework of international obligations to protect human rights apply. During its 144th session last week, the commission also stated its position on current developments in Suriname. The state of Suriname was previously convicted by the Inter-American Human Rights Court for the massacre committed by an army unit in the Marron village of Moiwana, Marowijne, in November 1986. This massacre cost the lives of 49 unarmed civilians, including senior citizens, pregnant women and children. In a communiqué issued Friday, the IACHR states it has received information that President Bouterse’s coalition has submitted a draft bill to Parliament with the intention to let human rights violations committed during the military dictatorship go unpunished. “This bill strives to make an exception in the 1992 Amnesty Act so crimes against humanity and war crimes will be covered. This initiative creates an obstacle for cases that have already been ruled on by the Inter-American system, including the Moiwana case. The Inter-American Commission reminds that in the framework of international obligations to protect human rights, amnesty laws are incompatible with serious human rights violations, that demand the state starts an investigation and punishes those responsible, the IACHR states. Sunil Oemrawsingh, chairman of the Foundation 8 December 1982, says the IACHR’s views are a sign of what Suriname can expect internationally if the amendment is approved and published. He also concludes that the amendment’s supporters have spread a “lot of untruths” and “pure nonsense” through the media in recent days to justify their intentions – letting the 1982 December murders go unpunished. Oemrawsingh says the December murders cannot be compared to the time of the hinterland civil war, “as the Amnesty Act was passed against the background of the peace accord”. The surviving relatives find it surprising that “most of those guilty will be eligible for amnesty for the third time in 32 years if the bill is passed”. The initiators and the possible supporters of the proposed amendment to the 1989 Amnesty Act will have turned the Act into a “statue of the perpetrators” if it is passed, Oemrawsingh believes.


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