Article 14 of the 1987 Constitution of Suriname (as amended) guarantees the right to life:
Everyone has the right to life. This right shall be protected by the law.
Article 9 prohibits torture and degrading or inhumane treatment or punishment.
Article 20 governs the right of peaceful assembly:
Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful association and assembly, taking into consideration the rules to be determined by law for the protection of public order, safety, health and morality.
Article 178 regulates the National Police:
1. The police shall have as tasks:
a. to maintain public order and domestic security, to prevent violations thereof, and to protect persons and goods;
b. to investigate punishable acts and to enforce the observance of regulations, the breach of which shall be punishable by law.
2. Without prejudice to the provisions of the previous paragraph, the police can be charged with special tasks to be defined by law.
3. The police corps shall carry out its task under the responsibility of and in subordination to the competent authority and in accordance with the prevailing legislation.
|1966 Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)||State Party|
|ICCPR Optional Protocol 1||State Party|
|1984 Convention against Torture (CAT)||Not party|
|Competence of CAT Committee to receive individual complaints||N/A|
|CAT Optional Protocol 1||Not party|
|1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court||State Party|
|1948 Charter of the Organization of American States||State Party|
|1969 Inter-American Convention on Human Rights||State Party|
|Competence of Inter-American Court on Human Rights||Yes|
Police Use of Force
The Suriname Police Force (Korps Politie Suriname, KPS) is the primary law enforcement agency in Suriname.
The use of force is regulated in the 1971 Police Charter. Article 12(1) allows use to be used in the event of unwillingness to comply with a lawful police order or where there is an apparent intent to use force against the police. Under paragraph 2, the police may only use force for self-defence or defence of others; to disperse assemblies; to arrest convicted fugitives or persons who are suspected of having committed a serious crime. Only proportionate force should be used; and no more pain or injury should be inflicted than is unavoidable in the circumstances.
Suriname has no dedicated independent civilian police oversight body. All filed complaints of ill-treatment of custodians and detainees against law enforcement officials are investigated by the Personnel Investigation Department, a unit within the law enforcement system.
Views and Concluding Observations of United Nations Treaty Bodies
In its 2015 Concluding Observations on Suriname, the Human Rights Committee did not address police use of force. But in its 2013 Report to the Committee Suriname reported the following:
Between 2009 and 2013, there have been some cases of excessive violence committed by police officials against civilians. These police officials were prosecuted and punished after criminal investigations. In 2008, three policemen fired shots in the direction of a mango tree, where a man was stealing mangos. Despite reminders he did not came out of the tree and he got hit by one of the shots. The three policemen were in police custody and prosecuted. In 2012, there was a case where a bystander was fatally shot by an aspirant police officer when firing a warning shot. He was trying to carry off a civilian, who was attacked by an aggressive mob. The police officials, who tried to carry away and protect the civilian, were also attacked and the aforementioned recruit was beaten on the head on the head. The entire incident was filmed by the press and was caught on tape by the security cameras. The aspirant police officer is prosecuted based on culpable homicide and acquitted by the court. At the moment two police officers are tried in a very serious case, in which they abused their duties and unlawfully arrested a man. At the arrest they stole his jewelry and the next day this man was found dead at the roadside, shot several times in the head. They have been charged with murder.
Moiwana Community v. Suriname (2005)
This case concerned unlawful use of force by the Suriname army. On 29 November 1986, a unit of the National Army of Suriname surrounded the N’djuka maroon village of Moiwana and then killed at least 39 members of the community. Many others were wounded and they, together with the other survivors, were forced to flee through the forest until they reached safety in French Guyana. For some this was a three to four day walk carrying wounded family members. In 1989, the civilian police attempted to investigate the massacre. Two persons were arrested in April 1989, but were released when an armed unit of the Military Police surrounded the police station and forced the civilian police to hand them over. Threats were made against Police Inspector Gooding. In August 1990, Inspector Gooding was shot and his body left beside the road near the office of the then-deputy commander of the Military police. The officers assisting Inspector Gooding fled the country and were granted political asylum in The Netherlands.
Judge Medina said that the Inter-American Court of Human Rights had to decide its competence ratione temporis to hear it, since the massacre of many members of the Moiwana Community had occurred in 1986, before the date that the American Convention came into force in Suriname and also before the date that Suriname accepted the Court’s jurisdiction. The Court stated that it was unable to examine the violation of Article 4 in relation to the alleged arbitrary deprivation of life of members of the Moiwana community by State agents, or the violation of Article 5, which could derive from any adverse effects on personal integrity that occurred the day of the events of 1986; that is, it could not rule on the alleged violation of the obligation to respect the right to life and the right to personal integrity that had occurred on 29 November 1986, in Suriname. Notwithstanding this, according to Judge Medina, the Court
understood that the events that occurred in 1986 gave rise to the obligation to investigate them, and that this obligation was pending execution when the Court acquired jurisdiction to try the State of Suriname and, thus, ratione temporis, it came within the Court’s jurisdiction.