Netherlands starts boycott lobby against Suriname over Amnesty

(de Ware Tijd) THE HAGUE/PARAMARIBO – The Netherlands is conducting a campaign to impose sanctions on Suriname and the 25 suspects in the 8 December trial. The country will use its observer status at the Organization of American States (OAS) to make clear to Suriname during the upcoming summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Columbia that adoption of the Amnesty Act is unacceptable and undermines the constitutional state.

Paramaribo will remain undaunted, however, and has made its own plan to inform the regional and international community about the amnesty issue. Dutch Foreign Affairs minister Uri Rosenthal said during yesterday’s Suriname debate in the Lower House that the Netherlands is mobilizing international pressure on Suriname, and that sanctions are expected from the European Union (EU) as well. Besides a strong condemnation of the adoption of the Amnesty Act, the EU can also impose economic sanctions. Separate countries are being mobilized as well, and Rosenthal mentioned Brazil, Canada and Chile in this regard.

The Dutch will also approach the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) for a condemnation and sanctions against Suriname, while they will file a complaint with the UN’s human rights council as well. Suriname’s Foreign Affairs minister Winston Lackin tells the paper from Cartagena, where he is attending the summit, that he is not concerned about the Dutch campaign, but rather focuses on Suriname’s development. He adds that through diplomatic channels, the government is informing the international community about the amnesty issue and the follow-up.

Official notes have been sent to the Secretariats of the CARICOM UNASUR, CELAC and OAS. The original note will be presented officially this week to OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza. In the note, the OAS is asked for assistance in setting up a truth commission, and Lackin has already discussed this via telephone with the OAS leadership. The note presents a historical review of the old Amnesty Act and its origins, as well as a report on the human rights conference held in Suriname with OAS assistance in 1998, and  a result of this conference was the establishment of a truth and reconciliation commission. It explains that the initiators of the amendment to the Amnesty Act did not act against the Constitution and do not want to undermine the judicary, and that no international treaties have been violated.

Lackin adds that the OAS has been asked for assistance due to its experience in other countries and to guarantee independence in truth finding. When it is ready, the regional organization will involve all interested parties in Suriname in the process, including surviving relatives, NGOs and others.


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