Arawak and Carib tribes lived in the region before Columbus sighted the coast in 1498. Spain officially claimed the area in 1593, but Portuguese and Spanish explorers of the time gave the area little attention. Dutch settlement began in 1616 at the mouths of several rivers between present-day Georgetown, Guyana, and Cayenne, French Guiana.
Suriname became a Dutch colony in 1667. The new colony, Dutch Guiana, did not thrive. Historians cite several reasons for this, including Holland's preoccupation with its more extensive (and profitable) East Indian territories, violent conflict between whites and native tribes, and frequent uprisings by the imported slave population, which was often treated with extraordinary cruelty. Barely, if at all, assimilated into European society, many of the slaves fled to the interior, where they maintained a West African culture and established the five major Bush Negro tribes in existence today--the Djuka, Saramaccaner, Matuwari, Paramaccaner, and Quinti.
Plantations steadily declined in importance as labor costs rose. Rice, bananas, and citrus fruits replaced the traditional crops of sugar, coffee, and cocoa. Exports of gold rose beginning in 1900. The Dutch Government gave little financial support to the colony. Suriname's economy was transformed in the years following World War I, when an American firm (ALCOA) began exploiting bauxite deposits in East Suriname. Bauxite processing and then alumina production began in 1916. During World War II, more than 75% of U.S. bauxite imports came from Suriname.
In 1951, Suriname began to acquire a growing measure of autonomy from the Netherlands. Suriname became an autonomous part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands on December 15, 1954, and gained independence on November 25, 1975.
Most of Suriname's political parties took shape during the autonomy period and were overwhelmingly based on ethnicity. For example, the National Party of Suriname found its support among the Creoles, the Progressive Reform Party members came from the Hindustani population, and the Indonesian Peasant's Party was Javanese. Other smaller parties found support by appealing to voters on an ideological or pro-independence platform; the Partij Nationalistische Republiek (PNR) was among the most important. Its members pressed most strongly for independence and for the introduction of leftist political and economic measures. Many former PNR members would go on to play a key role following the coup of February 1980.
Suriname was a working parliamentary democracy in the years immediately following independence. Henk Arron became the first Prime Minister and was re-elected in 1977. On February 25, 1980, 16 noncommissioned officers overthrew the elected government. The military-dominated government then suspended the constitution, dissolved the legislature, and formed a regime that ruled by decree. Although a civilian filled the post of president, a military man, Desi Bouterse, actually ruled the country.
Throughout 1982, pressure grew for a return to civilian rule. In response, the military ordered drastic action. Early in December 1982, military authorities arrested and killed 15 prominent opposition leaders, including journalists, lawyers, and trade union leaders.
Following the murders, the United States and the Netherlands suspended economic and military cooperation with the Bouterse regime, which increasingly began to follow an erratic but generally leftist-oriented political course. Economic decline rapidly set in after the suspension of economic aid from the Netherlands. The regime restricted the press and limited the rights of its citizens.
Continuing economic decline brought pressure for change. During the 1984-87 period, the Bouterse regime tried to end the crisis by appointing a succession of nominally civilian-led cabinets. Many figures in the government came from the traditional political parties that had been shoved aside during the coup. The military eventually agreed to free elections in 1987, a new constitution, and a civilian government.
Another pressure for change had erupted in July 1986, when a Bush Negro (aka Maroon) insurgency, led by former soldier Ronnie Brunswijk, began attacking economic targets in the country's interior. In response, the army ravaged villages and killed suspected Brunswijk supporters. Thousands of Bush Negroes fled to nearby French Guiana. In an effort to end the bloodshed, the Surinamese Government negotiated a peace treaty called the Kourou Accord, with Brunswijk in 1989. Bouterse and other military leaders blocked the accord's implementation.
On December 24, 1990, military officers forced the resignations of the civilian President and Vice President elected in 1987. Military-selected replacements were hastily approved by the National Assembly on December 29. Faced with mounting pressure from the U.S., other nations, the Organization of American States (OAS), and other international organizations, the government held new elections on May 25, 1991. The New Front (NF) Coalition, comprised of the Creole National Party of Suriname (NPS), the Hindustani Progressive Reform Party (VHP), the Javanese Indonesian Peasant's Party (KTPI), and the Surinamese Workers Party (SPA) were able to win a majority in the National Assembly. On September 6, 1991, NPS candidate Ronald Venetiaan was elected President, and the VHP's Jules Ajodhia became Vice President of the New Front Coalition government.
The Venetiaan government was able to effect a settlement to Suriname's domestic insurgency through the August 1992 Peace Accord with Bush Negro and Amerindian rebels. In April 1993, Desi Bouterse left his position as commander of the armed forces and was replaced by Arthy Gorre, a military officer committed to bringing the armed forces under civilian government control. Economic reforms instituted by the Venetiaan government eventually helped curb inflation, unify the official and unofficial exchange rates, and improve the government's economic situation by re-establishing relations with the Dutch, thereby opening the way for a major influx of Dutch financial assistance. Despite these successes, the governing coalition lost support and failed to retain control of the government in the subsequent round of national elections. The rival National Democratic Party (NDP), founded in the early 1990s by Desi Bouterse, benefited from the New Front government's loss of popularity. The NDP won more National Assembly seats (16 of 51) than any other party in the May 1996 national elections and in September 1996, joined with the KTPI, dissenters from the VHP, and several smaller parties to elect NDP vice chairman Jules Wijdenbosch president of a NDP-led coalition government. Divisions and subsequent reshufflings of coalition members in the fall of 1997 and early 1998 weakened the coalition's mandate and slowed legislative action.
In May 1999, after mass demonstrations protesting poor economic conditions, the government was forced to call early elections. The elections in May 2000 returned Ronald Venetiaan and his coalition to the presidency. The NF ran its campaign on a platform to fix the faltering Surinamese economy. But while the Venetiaan administration has made progress in stabilizing the economy, tensions within the coalition and the impatience of the populace have impeded progress.
Relations with the Dutch have been complicated by Dutch prosecution of Desi Bouterse in absentia on drug charges, and legal maneuvering by Dutch prosecutors trying to bring charges relating to the December murders. (A Dutch appellate court in 2000 found Bouterse guilty of one drug-related charge; the decision was upheld on appeal.) A key component of the relationship is the 600 million Dutch guilders (Nf.) remaining from Nf. 2.5 billion promised for development at independence. The disposition of the funds was a matter of much discussion during recent Dutch cabinet-level visits intended to lay the groundwork to restart the flow of guilders, which the Dutch stanched in response to irresponsible spending by the Wijdenbosch administration. The parties are at odds over the control of the funds, and needed aid has not flowed to the country.
In August 2001, the Dutch provided a triple A state guarantee to enable the Surinamese government to receive a 10-year loan from the Dutch Development Bank (NTO) for the amount of Euro 137.7 million (U.S.$125 million). The loan has an interest rate of 5.18% per year and was used to consolidate floating government debts. U.S.$32 million of the loan was used to pay off foreign loans, which had been taken under unfavorable conditions by the Wijdenbosch government. The remaining 93 million of the loan was used to pay off debts at the Central Bank of Suriname. This enabled the Central Bank to strengthen its foreign currency position according to the IMF standards to the equivalency of 3 months of imports.
After over a decade of predominantly military rule, Suriname installed a freely elected Parliament and inaugurated a democratically chosen president in 1991. After generally free and fair elections in May 2000, the 51-member National Assembly elected Ronald Venetiaan of the National Party of Suriname (NPS) as President in August 2000; he replaced Jules Wijdenbosch of the National Democratic Party (NDP). Venetiaan previously had served as President in 1991-96. The Constitution provides for an independent judiciary, and previous disputes over judicial appointees by the former president were alleviated in 2000 when the appointees in question resigned from the judiciary, which appears to be acting generally independently, although it is inefficient.
The country's population is approximately 450,000, and the economy depends heavily on the export of bauxite derivatives. Unregulated gold mining is an increasingly important economic activity that highlights a lack of land rights for indigenous and tribal peoples and has a serious environmental impact. The Government and state-owned companies employ over half the working population. Overall economic conditions stabilized during the year, and estimated gross domestic product grew by approximately 3 percent. The inflation rate was 4.8 percent, compared with 82 percent in 2000 and 113 percent in 1999. Per capita annual income was approximately $1,000.
INCIDENCE OF CRIME
Suriname has provided data neither for United Nations nor INTERPOL surveys of crime; however, an estimate of crime is given in the United States State Department's Consular Information Sheet according to which ... " Although there were no significant protests in 2001, demonstrations can occur at any time. Criminal activity throughout the country is on the rise, and foreigners, including Americans, are viewed as targets of opportunity. Burglary, armed robbery and violent crime occur with some frequency in Paramaribo and in outlying areas. Pickpocketing and robbery are increasingly common in the major business and shopping districts in the capital, with pickpocketing being most common. Although there are few reports of criminal incidents in the vicinity of the major tourist hotels…Theft from vehicles is infrequent, but it does occur, especially in areas near the business district. While travel to the interior is generally trouble-free, there have been reports of tourists being robbed. Police presence outside Paramaribo is minimal, and banditry and lawlessness are on the rise in the cities of Albina and Moengo, as well as along the East-West Highway between Paramaribo and Albina."
The armed forces are responsible for national security and border and immigration control; they are under the effective control of the civilian Minister of Defense. Civilian police bear primary responsibility for the maintenance of law and order; they report to the Ministry of Justice and Police. The first Venetiaan Government had reformed the military in 1995-96 by purging military officers and supporters of former dictator Desi Bouterse, who ruled the country in the 1980's. Bouterse's NDP won 10 seats in the National Assembly in 2000, 1 of which he occupies. Over the past few years, the party's influence within the military had declined steadily; however, during the year it remained constant. The military police continued to maintain responsibility for control of the country's borders and airports, but it has not investigated civilian crimes since 1989. Members of the security forces committed some human rights abuses.
There was one report of an extrajudicial killing in the town of Albina, on the border with French Guiana. When the police took a man into custody during the summer on suspicion of motor bike theft, they took him to a detention area and handcuffed him. He allegedly tried to escape and was shot in the back of the head without warning. The victim's family called for an investigation into the shooting, but no additional information was available at year's end 2001.
The Government has not addressed many past abuses, and they continue to be a focus of concern. The authorities have not taken action against prison guards who allegedly beat a prisoner to death in 1993. There has been no investigation into the 1986 massacre of civilians at the village of Moiwana.
In view of the human rights record of the Bouterse regime, many of whose members participated in the 1996-2000 Wijdenbosch Government, human rights organizations remained concerned about the potential for a deterioration of civil liberties.
After the elections in 2000, there were calls for the new Government to investigate the December 1982 killings by the Bouterse regime of 15 opposition leaders before the 18-year statute of limitations expired in December 2000. Accordingly, in October 2000, the Court of Justice began hearings on the killings in response to a request from relatives of the victims. Bouterse's lawyer sought to postpone the hearings, but the court denied his request. The court heard testimony from the victims' relatives, human rights activists, and the prosecutor's office, which had not yet made any investigation into the killings. Previously, Bouterse himself had requested an investigation, after the victims' relatives asked a Dutch court to prosecute him in that country. In September the Dutch court ruled that it did not have jurisdiction in such a case; relatives of two of the victims took the case to the European Court of Human Rights. Following an order from the Court of Justice, an examining judge continued an investigation into the killings, but no suspects had been charged or brought to trial by year's end 2001.
The Constitution prohibits inhuman treatment or punishment, but human rights groups continue to express concern about official mistreatment and have documented cases of police mistreatment of detainees, particularly during arrests, and guard abuse of prisoners.
There were a record number of complaints against the police force during the year for physical mistreatment. Citizens filed a total of 277 cases with the Personnel Investigation Department (OPZ), the majority of which were for physical mistreatment. The OPZ is an office within the Police Department that is responsible for investigating complaints against officers. It makes recommendations regarding whether or not an officer should be punished internally, or if criminal charges should be brought. Police officers have been charged with brutality, but no figures were available regarding sentencing.
Beatings by police are common. Police officers, who are not trained in prison work, serve as the jailers at local detention facilities, a situation that human rights groups assert contributes to the abuses. There are three state prisons and several detention facilities at police stations, where arrestees are detained until they appear before a judge for trial. Human rights activists are concerned about conditions in the prisons and especially about conditions in local detention facilities, which remain overcrowded. At police stations, guards allow detainees no exercise and only rarely permit them to leave their cells. Detainees and human rights groups also complain about inadequate prison meals, although families are permitted and encouraged to provide food to incarcerated relatives. There are no considerations for individuals who require a specific diet for religious reasons. Human rights monitors report that guards mistreat prisoners, and that medical care and living conditions are inadequate.
The law prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention, and the authorities generally respect these provisions in practice. However, delays have caused prisoners who appeal their sentences to remain in prison until a ruling is reached on their appeal, even if they have served the full term of their original sentence. Lawyers have filed complaints, but the problem has not been resolved.
The law provides that the police may detain for investigation for up to 14 days a person suspected of committing a crime for which the sentence is longer than 4 years. During the 14-day period, the law also permits incommunicado detention, which must be authorized by an assistant district attorney or a police inspector. Within the 14-day period, the police must bring the accused before a prosecutor to be charged formally. If additional time is needed to investigate the charge, a prosecutor may authorize the police to detain the suspect for an additional 30 days. Upon the expiration of the initial 44 days, a judge of instruction may authorize the police to hold the suspect for up to 120 additional days, in 30-day increments (for a total of 164 days), before the case is tried. The judge of instruction has the power to authorize release on bail, but that power is used rarely, if ever. On July 14, the lower courthouse burned, and the police suspect arson. The fire caused a delay both in investigations and in court proceedings. As a result, in August the Government enacted emergency legislation that lengthened the initial period an inmate may be held without judicial appearance to 120 days. A judge may twice extend the period by 30 days.
Pretrial detainees, who constitute a large percentage of inmates, routinely are held without being brought before a judge. The average length of pretrial detention varies, for lesser crimes it is from 30 to 45 days, while for more serious crimes, the maximum time is usually utilized. Detainees often are held in overcrowded detention cells at local police stations. Of those held in police custody or detention cells, a steadily growing number already had been convicted but not yet placed in prisons due to a lack of space in prison facilities.
The military police continued to observe the requirement to hand over to the civil police civilians arrested for committing a crime in their presence.
The Constitution does not prohibit specifically forced exile; however, it is not practiced.
The legal system of Suriname is based on Dutch legal system incorporating French penal theory.
The Constitution provides for an independent judiciary; however, previous disputes over the appointing of judges to the bench undermined the independence of the judiciary in recent years. In 2000 the President appointed a new Solicitor General, and the Court of Justice confirmed him in September. The President has yet to confirm the Acting Attorney General, although he has served in that position since 2000. Appointment as Attorney General is a lifetime position. As a result of the conflict from previous years, the effectiveness of the civilian and military courts still was limited in practice, but at year's end 2001 the judiciary appeared to be acting generally independently, albeit inefficiently, since it is hampered by a large case backlog.
The judicial system consists of three lower courts and an appeals court, which is called the Court of Justice; there is no Supreme Court. In July 1998, then-President Wijdenbosch named a new President of the Court of Justice and Prosecutor General without consulting with, and over the objections of, the sitting justices. Most legal authorities interpret the Constitution to require that consultation, and the members of the court refused to recognize the named President of the Court or Prosecutor General. In spite of the continued objections, President Wijdenbosch named additional justices without consultation in 1998. In 1999 the appointed President of the Court of Justice first swore in himself, and then he swore in the new justices. With the change in Government after the 2000 elections, the President of the Court and other disputed judges resigned. The 1987 Constitution calls for the establishment of an independent constitutional court, but this court has never been established.
The Constitution provides for the right to a fair public trial in which defendants have the right to counsel if needed. The courts assign lawyers in private practice to defend indigent prisoners and pays lawyers from public funds. However, the court-assigned lawyers, of which there are four, usually only appear at the trial, if they appear at all. The courts must, and in practice do, free a detainee who is not tried within the 164-day period. Trials are before a single judge, with the right of appeal. Due to the previous conflict over the legitimacy of the president of the Court and the justices and to the fire at the courthouse, there is a large backlog of cases in the judicial system.
Military personnel generally are not subject to civilian criminal law. A member of the armed forces accused of a crime immediately comes under military jurisdiction, and military police are responsible for all such investigations. Military prosecutions are directed by an officer on the public prosecutor's staff and take place in separate courts before two military judges and one civilian judge. The military courts follow the same rules of procedure as the civil courts. There is no appeal from the military to the civil system.
There were no reports of political prisoners.
Prison conditions are poor, and in many cases they do not meet international standards. Prisoners also mistreat others, and the authorities usually do not punish prisoners for violence against other prisoners. Some prison facilities were renovated in recent years, which improved health and safety conditions. However, most incarceration facilities, especially older jails, remain seriously overcrowded, with as many as four times the number of detainees for which they were designed. In addition, these older prisons are unsanitary. There were several riots at detention facilities during the year, many in protest of poor living conditions. An army squad served as temporary guards following one riot. There was also an outbreak of tuberculosis at the main detention center in Paramaribo, which appeared to have been exacerbated by inadequate sanitary facilities. There were no deaths from the tuberculosis outbreak or prison riots.
In 1999 the human rights group Moiwana '86, a nongovernmental organization (NGO), issued a report that accused prison officials at two of the state prisons of using electrical shocks to discipline prisoners. The report further asserted that different ethnic groups receive different forms and degrees of punishments. Prison officials denied the accusations, and the Government took no investigative action. Moiwana '86 did not pursue the issue further, although the group asserts that this procedure continues.
Women's jail and prison facilities and conditions are, in general, better than the men's facilities and conditions. There is a wing of an adult prison for boys under age 18 who have committed serious crimes. Juvenile facilities for boys between the ages of 10 and 18 within the adult prison were adequate; educational and recreational facilities were provided. There is no separate facility for girls under the age of 18. They are housed within the women's detention center and the women's section of one of the prison complexes.
Since 1996 Moiwana '86 has monitored the condition of prisoners. Representatives of the group report that in general they have access to prisoners and receive cooperation from prison officials on routine matters. When requesting access to individual prisoners, human rights monitors generally gain access quickly. However, if an individual has filed a complaint with the organization due to physical mistreatment, access often is delayed. The group has asked permission to visit certain prison sections on a regular basis to meet with inmates in general. The authorities granted the group permission to visit one prison on a regular basis, on the condition that they meet with the head of the prison following such visits. The group had not begun these visits at year's end 2001 and was waiting for permission to visit other jails and prisons on a regular basis. Moiwana '86 and the police previously cooperated to develop a detention officer training program for police guards working at the local detention facilities. The program consisted of lectures given at the state prison to both guards and prisoners.
Violence against women is a problem. The law does not differentiate between domestic violence and other forms of assault. The Government has not addressed specifically the problem of violence against women. According to a national women's group, victims continue to report cases of violence against women and complain of an inadequate response from the Government and society to what appears to be a trend of increasing family violence. No reliable statistics are available as to the extent of the problem. However, the NGO Stop the Violence Against Women stated that among those women who report their abuse to the group, the average abused woman is married, between the ages of 25 and 50, has 2 to 3 children, and is employed in a low-paying job. Although the police have been reluctant to intervene in instances of domestic violence, a national women's group noted that police attitudes have improved significantly as a result of training conducted in 1999. For example, two police stations opened victims' rooms during the year in order to provide better services to victims of all kinds of crimes.
There are no specific laws to protect women against sexual exploitation. Prostitution is illegal; however, law enforcement officials do not enforce prostitution laws or arrest women for prostitution unless they are working on the street. Police allow many "brothel-type" establishments to operate, and officials assert that they make random checks on the brothels twice a month to see if women are being abused or held against their will. In spite of this effort, there were credible reports of trafficking in women for prostitution.
There are continuing reports of malnutrition among poor children, but it is difficult to quantify the extent of the problem. In the capital, where most of the country's population is concentrated, there are several orphanages and one privately funded shelter for sexually abused children. Elsewhere, distressed children usually must rely on the resources of their extended families. In 2000 there were credible reports of hospitals refusing to hand newborns over to their mothers until hospital bills were paid in full, sending the infants instead to a state facility. The Government denied that such refusals occurred and stated that there was no such policy. The investigation was dropped by the NGO Moiwana '86 because it could not prove that the Government was the sole entity in charge of the hospital.
There is no societal pattern of abuse directed against children; however, some children are exploited sexually, and there were credible reports of trafficking in girls for prostitution. There was increased awareness of sexual abuse of children during the year, although the number of reports declined. During the year, a local NGO mounted a campaign against child sexual abuse in a newspaper and on the radio to increase awareness. The legal age of sexual consent is 14; however, it is not enforced strictly, and the Asian Marriage Law lowers the marriage age for children of Asian descent to 12 years for girls and 15 years for boys. Otherwise, one must be 31 years old to marry without parental permission.
TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS
The only laws that prohibit trafficking in persons are dated "white slavery laws" that are enforced rarely, and apply only to women and children. There were credible reports of trafficking in women and girls to the country for prostitution. Women and girls from the interior are brought to the capital city and also to various gold mining locations in the interior. Several clubs in the capital also are known for recruiting women from Brazil and the Caribbean. While prostitution is illegal, the law is not enforced. The police have an informal agreement with many "hotel" or brothel owners to allow them to proceed with their business as long as they do not hold the women's passports and the women are not mistreated. Random checks are performed on the establishments weekly; in several instances, police officers work as advisers to the owners.
Brothel owners often attempt to hold airline tickets for women whom they have paid to bring to the country, to be sure that the women complete their contracts. The police have arranged a compromise with the brothels and the prostitutes that in such instances where disagreements arise, the police will hold the ticket until an agreement is reached. There have been some reported instances of individuals brought to the country under false pretenses and then forced to work as prostitutes. In cases where the victims have been able to alert the police, the police have returned them to their country of origin. One club owner in Paramaribo was convicted in Brazil during the year for trafficking in women.
There were credible reports of individuals using the country as a transit point to transport Brazilian women to Europe and the United States for purposes of prostitution. In addition, alien smuggling organizations use the country as an intermediate destination to smuggle Chinese and Indian nationals, including women and girls, to the United States, where frequently they are forced into bonded-labor situations.
Suriname is a transshipment point for South American cocaine to Europe and, to a lesser extent, the United States. There is a growing domestic consumption problem. The lack of infrastructure in the interior, which comprises 90 percent of the country, and inadequate border controls are the major obstacles in the detection of drug shipments in and out of the country.
Suriname is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention, but has yet to implement legislation bringing the country into conformity with the Convention. Suriname also saw an increase in the number of arms-for-drugs exchanges in 1998.
The United States has provided training and material support to elements of the police, military and judicial branch in an effort to promote greater bilateral cooperation. The Government of Suriname (GOS) and the USG signed a bilateral maritime counternarcotics interdiction agreement in 1998, and both governments are working to ratify and implement the agreement in 1999.
Suriname is a conduit for cocaine transshipment from South America to Europe and the United States. Law enforcement authorities face difficulties combating drug smuggling because of dense jungles, lack of infrastructure and insufficient personnel and equipment. Drugs are transported out of Suriname by couriers on international flights, in commercial air and maritime shipments, and in concealed storage areas on cargo ships.
The GOS is working to expand both its addict treatment capabilities and its anti-drug education programs in response to an estimated two-to three-fold increase in domestic consumption.
Money laundering occurs in Suriname, reportedly through over-valuation of purchase prices, the sale of gold purchased with illicit funds and sold in Suriname, and manipulation of accounts in commercial and state controlled banks. In 1998 the GOS awarded a number of casino licenses, and the Police are concerned that some of the casinos will be used to launder money. As yet, Suriname has not instituted asset forfeiture laws.
Police officials report an increase from 1997 in the number of arms-for-drugs swaps, with a going "exchange rate" of one kilo of cocaine for one automatic weapon. Although a number of guns did go "missing" from military barracks and a police training facility, there were no significant weapon seizures in 1998.
There is anecdotal evidence that cannabis is cultivated and used in Suriname's tribal-influenced interior, but there is no specific data on the number of hectares involved, and there is no evidence that cannabis is exported in significant quantities. However, Suriname's domestic consumption of narcotics such as cocaine and ecstasy continues to grow.
There are disturbing reports of money laundering, drug trafficking and associated criminal activity involving current and former government and military officials. Although President Jules Wijdenbosch has condemned drug trafficking, a convicted drug trafficker serves as the Chief of Staff to the Defense Minister. First State Advisor Desi Bouterse, the former military dictator of Suriname (1980-1987 and 1990-1991), is under investigation in the Netherlands for cocaine trafficking and money laundering. He is suspected of involvement in arranging five cocaine shipments during 1989-1991, four to the Netherlands and one to Belgium, a total of 1,336 kilograms. In 1998, the GOS refused Dutch requests to extradite Bouterse or to allow court officers to travel to Suriname to interview Bouterse, others under investigation, and witnesses against them. The Netherlands intends to try Bouterse in absentia during the spring of 1999. Suriname has yet to come to terms with the question of public corruption in an effective, legal manner.
Internet research assisted by Rene Ayon