Suriname stalking Bill passed

(de Ware Tijd) PARAMARIBO – “After a somewhat false start, we’ve debated the bill seriously,” a visibly pleased Speaker of Parliament Jennifer Geerlings-Simons said immediately after the passing of the Stalking bill with 32 unanimous votes. She was referring to the incident during the first session on the bill, when she had police remove Nieuw Front legislators for disturbing the peace.

The maximum prison sentence for stalking has been increased to twelve years and the fine to SRD 150,000. Maximum sentence can be imposed if the victim dies as a result of stalking. Misiedjan makes clear this does not apply to stalkers who have killed their victim, as the laws on homicide would apply then. As an example, he points out a stalker can be sentenced to a maximum time in prison if his victim commits suicide because of stalking.

The debate in Parliament also focused on the provision that a complaint must be filed first before police can take action. Legislator Chandrikapersad Santhoki pointed out that this would be an obstacle, namely in cases where stalking has led to other offences including assault and murder. Eventually, the bill was amended so a complaint is not necessary in these cases.

Minister Misiedjan cited the triple murder of the Perotie family as an example, stating this could have been prevented if the bill had been passed sooner. The wife often filed complaints but later withdrew them, so the authorities could not take any action. Legislator Rabin Parmessar did not agree with this conclusion, as he believed police could have taken action based on earlier complaints by the victim. His colleague Ruth Wijdenbosch pointed out that the bill will not have the desired effect if police do not take immediate action.

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