Ambassador to Suriname Keith George was on Wednesday assaulted by Surinamese police on the premises of the Guyana Embassy in Paramaribo, where they were trying to make an arrest and the administration has since called on the Government of Suriname to take action against the ranks for violating international diplomatic conventions.
“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 Foreign Affairs Ministry said in a statement on Friday, while adding that an expeditious explanation for the incident is expected.
According to the statement, the incident stemmed from an altercation between a driver and the security guard at the Embassy around mid-morning on April 1st. It said the driver had parked his vehicle in front of the gate of the Embassy, thereby blocking the entrance, despite a clear no parking sign. Further, when he was asked to move the vehicle, the statement added, he behaved in a disorderly manner and later assaulted the security guard.
As a result, Ambassador George’s chauffeur intervened and he was verbally abused by the angry motorist, who also exposed himself in public.
Ambassador George afterward instructed his staff to summon the police and the two uniformed ranks who responded were invited onto the premises as per the provisions of the Vienna Conventions.
“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 Convention,” the statement further said.
The policemen subsequently spoke with motorist and then reentered the premises of the Embassy and declared that they had to arrest George’s chauffeur. The policemen stated that the chauffeur was a suspect in relation to an injury suffered by the driver of the vehicle.
According to the statement, at this point George informed both officers 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 statement said, adding that George maintained what he had said, and stood in front of the ranks.
“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,” the statement said.
“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,” it added.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Suriname and other senior officials of the Surinamese government have contacted and met with George about the incident, the statement noted. However, it pointed out that the Surinamese police have not yet provided any information on the action they have taken or plan to take against the motorist. As a result, the Foreign Affairs Ministry said it is 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,” it further pointed out.
Meanwhile, the statement said the Director General (ag) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will travel shortly to Paramaribo to engage with the staff, which has been traumatised by the actions of the Surinamese policemen.