Guyana’s Ambassador to Suriname, Keith George, was on Wednesday assaulted by Surinamese police on the premises of the Guyana embassy in Paramaribo following a traffic incident outside of the compound, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.
Guyana has expressed deep concern over the violation of the Vienna Convention in this matter.
A statement today from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs follows.
At about mid-morning on Wednesday 1st April, 2015, a male who had parked his vehicle in front of the gate of the Guyana Embassy in Paramaribo, in clear sight of a “no parking sign”, behaved in a disorderly manner when he was requested to remove his vehicle that was blocking the entrance to the Embassy. He became angry at that request, exited his vehicle and assaulted the security guard on duty. The Ambassador’s Chauffeur intervened to rescue the security guard and he was the subject of verbal abuse from the driver of the parked vehicle.
After he continued his verbal abuse and exposed himself in public, the Guyana Ambassador to the Republic of Suriname instructed his staff to summon the Surinamese police. Two uniformed ranks arrived and as per the provisions of the Vienna Conventions, the Ambassador invited the two ranks onto the premises and introduced himself to both policemen. The Ambassador and two other staff members briefed the policemen on what had transpired and caused the request for assistance – also in keeping with the provisions of the Vienna Conventions.
The two officers proceeded beyond the gate of the Embassy, it is assumed, to address the matter for which they were called. After speaking with the man who had been behaving in a disorderly manner and who had publicly exposed himself while facing the Embassy, the policemen reentered the premises and declared that they had to arrest the Ambassador’s Chauffeur. Upon inquiry from the Ambassador as to why his Chauffeur was being arrested, one of the two policemen stated that he was the suspect in relation to an injury suffered by the driver of the vehicle parked in the entrance to the Embassy.
The Ambassador informed both ranks that they could not effect an arrest on the premises of an embassy and if there is an issue it must be addressed through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Policemen declared that it was Surinamese territory and that the Ambassador was obstructing police work. The Ambassador stood his ground by standing in front of the officers who, in clear violation of the Vienna Conventions sought to effect the arrest and in the process, again in clear violation of the Vienna Conventions, grabbed on the Ambassador’s clothing ripping his shirt.
They continued with their effort to effect an arrest, on the premises of an embassy that is inviolable under international law, in spite of the physical assault on the person of the Ambassador, also in contravention of international law and admonitions from the Staff of the Guyana Embassy and officers from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Suriname who later arrived at the Embassy.
The Government of Guyana has registered its deep concern over this unprecedented act and expects that measures will be taken to not only ensure that there is no recurrence of these gross violations of international law, but that the proper action will be taken by the Government of Suriname against those who violated the principles laid down in the Vienna Conventions. The Government of Guyana hopes that because of the fact that the relations between Guyana and Suriname are exceptional good, the Government of Suriname will provide an expeditious explanation for this incident.
While the Ministry has been informed that the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Suriname and other senior officials of the Surinamese Government have contacted and met with Guyana’s Ambassador about this incident, the Ministry notes that so far, the Surinamese police have not provided any information on the action they have taken or plan to take against the man who was behaving disorderly and is therefore perturbed as to why the Surinamese police are interested in the Ambassador’s Chauffeur who was not involved in an altercation with the man in question. In fact, the altercation that took place was not between the Chauffeur and the man who parked the vehicle, but between the latter and the security guard on duty who was choked and pressed to the ground by the irate driver.
Meanwhile, the Director General (ag) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will shortly be traveling to Paramaribo to meet with the staff who have been traumatized by the actions of two members of the Suriname police.