(de Ware Tijd) LONDON – The conviction of former Liberian President Charles Taylor by the Sierra Leone tribunal is a warning sign for anyone who has committed heinous crimes against humanity, including Desi Bouterse, says Ruth Wijdenbosch, chairperson of the organization Parliamentarians for Global Action (PGA) and deputy Speaker of Suriname’s Parliament.
“For those who have seen such men go unpunished many times, it is a relief that Charles Taylor will be punished. Finally, his thousands of victims and survivors can see that their fight for justice has not been in vain,” Wijdenbosch tells de Ware Tijd in reaction to Taylor’s conviction late last week. Earlier this month, Parliament granted Bouterse amnesty for his alleged role in the murder of 15 opponents of his regime on 8 December 1982. The trial for these murders will resume in early May.
Wijdenbosch says that the conviction is not only a warning sign for the December murders, but for all human rights violations committed in Suriname and other parts of the world, adding, “Impunity is no longer an option, as you can run, but you cannot hide.” Charles Taylor was President, but did not enjoy immunity for crimes including the recruitment of child soldiers who were drugged and forced to commit the worst atrocities. He will be sentenced next month. With regard to granting amnesty in Suriname, Wijdenbosch says the PGA has paid attention to this through the human rights organizations joined in the Coalition on the International Criminal Court (CICC), and member organizations have all expressed their disapproval. Some have even sent official letters to Speaker Jenny Geerlings-Simons, but she has not replied to any. “Parliament’s correspondence does not show it has replied to the many letters by national and international organizations on this issue,” Wijdenbosch says.