RESOLUTION Nš 1/85
July 1st. 1985
1. On December 6,
1983 the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights received the
following complaint and forwarded it to the Government of the Republic
of Suriname for its observations:
have received the names of the following people reportedly arrested
during the past two weeks and detained at Fort Zeelandia Military Police
Rajwinderpersad Gobardhan, aged 27.
(Oemperkash) Gobardhan, aged 24, Dutch citizen.
Gobardhan, aged 21, reportedly badly beaten;
at the arrest of his brother-in-law (below).
Bekaroe, aged 27, brother-in-law of above brothers.
Kasi, aged 21.
Ch. Doerga, aged 40 arrested on 27 November at Nickerie.
Doerga, aged 24, arrested on 27 November at Nickerie.
of Mrs. Doerga, above; mother reported to suffer from diabetes and may
die if she does not receive medication.
Alibux (not Prime Minister).
29 November 1983 the Suriname authorities announced that they had
arrested ten people during the previous week on suspicion of plotting a
coup against the Government. They are reportedly being held for
questioning at Fort Zeelandia Military headquarters. Other reports
allege that up to 69 people, mainly from the Indian (Hindustani)
community have been arrested during this period. We have received
reports that some of those arrested have been beaten while in custody.
further report was received from a refugee arriving in Holland that for
the past 2-3 weeks four bodies were kept under military guard in the
Paramaribo mortuary. Bodies rumoured to include Imro Themen and Henk
Essed (leader of People's Militia, dismissed three weeks ago).
of those arrested -Omprakash Gobardhan and Linveld above- appeared on
Suriname television on 29 November at a press conference given by the
Deputy Commander of the Military Police, Sergeant Major Zeeuw. The two
men 'confessed' to their involvement in the attempted coup. The
Government has accused those involved of having distributed
anti-government leaflets and of setting fire to Government buildings,
reportedly in preparation for an invasion by mercenaries.
are concerned for the safety of those in custody, in view of the past
treatment of people arrested on suspicion of plotting coups in Suriname.
We urge the Government to grant those detained protection of right to
life and humane treatment.
2. On March 20,
1984 the Commission received the following response from the Government
of Suriname and forwarded it to the complainant for his observations:
to information from the Attorney-General to the Court of Justice in
Suriname, the accused persons referred to in the appendix were brought
up before the Chief-Prosecutor, Mr. A.I. Ramnewash LI.D., by the
Military Police on 10 December l983. In respect of the accused I.
Bissumbar and H. Kasie, an order for their release was issued when they
were brought in for the second hearing on 20 December l983. On January
3, l984 the case was referred to the examining magistrate for a
preliminary judicial examination.
regard to the rumour that there would be bodies placed under military
guard, in respect of which the names of Messrs. Imro Themen and Henk
Essed have been mentioned, we wish to comment as follows: Mr. Imro
Themen is at present a civil servant employed at the Ministry of General
Affairs, while Mr. Henk Essed was recently on vacation in the United
States of America.
Government of Suriname deplores the fact that your Commission is being
supplied with incomplete and incorrect information, and cannot resist
the impression that insinuations in this respect are made on purpose,
evidently with the intention to discredit our country with your
organization. We take the most definite exception to this.
assure you that the Government of Suriname endeavours to give full
substance to Resolution Nš AG/Res. 666 (XIII-0/83) which was adopted at
the Seventh Plenary Session of the Thirteenth General Meeting of the OAS
in November 18, 1983.
the following additional information was received and transmitted to the
Government for its comments:
of Political Opponents on 24 November 1983:
Gobardhan, Iwan Rajinderpersad
on 22 November 1956.
on 5 August 1960
on 22 April 1962
on 16 December 1950
on 12 October 1962
24 November 1983 these Surinamese citizens were arrested and transported
to Fort Zeelandia by armed men in civilian clothes. This was kept
secret. Even when relatives went to the military police they denied
having arrested the above-mentioned people.
December 1983 Omprakash Gobardhan and Lindveld were interrogated on TV
in the presence of the press including the Dutch media.
military Police Commander Liew Yen Tair put a few questions to the
prisoners, who had to answer with a yes or no. The press was not allowed
to ask questions. On the film the expression of fear and terror could be
seen clearly on their faces. In this 'show' the Council was accused of
destabilizing activities in Suriname and sending mercenaries to
Suriname. However, all persons who had been arrested had Surinamese
Lila Doerga is a diabetic but she could not take any medicine.
February, the prisoners were put under custody of the civil police. It
is reported that in the meantime Karsi, Lila Doerga and Krishna Doerga
have been released.
others prisoners are still held. Most probably they will appear before
the court on June 14, 1984.
4. On July 27,
1984 the Commission received the further observations of the Government
of Suriname. The pertinent parts of the observations read as follows:
to Your letter of July 5, 1984, Case 9265, I have the honour to inform
You as follows:
9265 refers to the persons mentioned in the list enclosed with Your
letter of June 19, 1984 being the following:
Gobardhan, Iwan Rajinderpersad
upon instructions of my Government, I submit to You information about
the following persons:
Harden Kasi, Mrs. Lila Doerga, Mr. Krishna Doerga, and Mr. R. Oudsten
were not prosecuted and have been released.
Iwan R. Gobardhan was sentenced to 1 year and 6 months, with reduction
of the time of his pre-trial detention.
O. Gobardhan was sentenced to 2 years with reduction of the time of his
Ramlall Bekaroe was sentenced to 1 year with reduction of the time of
his pre-trial detention.
Karel Lindveld was sentenced by the judge in the first circuit (kanton)
to 1 year and by the judge in the third circuit (kanton) to 2 years. In
both cases his time was reduced with the time of his pre-trial
case Your Secretariat would like to receive a copy of the
above-mentioned judiciary decisions, please feel free to notify us.
on November 5, 1984 the Government of Suriname sent photostatic copies
of the sentences handed down by the Court on Messrs. Krisnapersad
Gobardhan, Iwan Gobardhan, and Karel Lindveld.
6. On January 9,
1985 a special commission of the IACHR interviewed certain eyewitnesses
to the detention of the subjects of this case and heard testimony to the
effect that they were tortured at the outset of their incarceration, in
some cases lasting several months, and effectively denied legal counsel
until the day before their trials in July of 1984, more than seven
months after their arrest. The tortures included severe beatings over
their entire bodies including their sex organs. These usually took place
at night either in Fort Zeelandia or Membre Boekoe Kazerne. Specific
mistreatment also included the placing of a chair leg on the victims's
outstretched hand while the torturer jumped on the chair. Another
technique consisted of forcing the prisoner to drink a liquid that
burned the drinker's throat. The torture also included punches, kicks
and beatings with clubs and rifle butts. The Commission saw evidence on
a number of the victims of broken teeth, noses, legs, collarbones and
assorted scars. One had been tied to a car and dragged. Several had been
forced to sign confessions.
torture included the firing of machine guns at the victims' feet.
Threats were also made against the wives, mothers and other relatives of
the victims. On one occasion several of the victims were forced to lie
in freshly dug graves in a local cemetery and threatened with summary
execution. One of the victims was subject to an attempted homosexual
rape by a military policeman.
7. On January 16,
1985 the special commission of the IACHR visited Santo Boma Penitentiary
outside of Paramaribo. There it interviewed a number of prisoners
including four who are the subjects of this case.
8. The Commission
has verified that most of the subjects of this case have been released.
independent eyewitnesses the Commission received testimony that the
torturers included the following Surinamese military personnel:
Major Marcel Zeeuw
The special commission of the IACHR met with certain military
authorities during its on-site visit in Suriname and discussed these
accusations of torture and denial of due process. Colonel Liew Yen Tair
and Sgt. Major Zeeuw denied the allegations of torture and stated that
the decree laws in force under the state of siege permit prolonged
detention without judicial warrant and without benefit of counsel by the
military police. As to the injuries reported by the victims, the
officers indicated that these occurred because the subjects had resisted
1. That the
Government of Suriname has made no response to the Commission regarding
the alleged beatings and torture of the subjects of this case.
2. That the decree
laws currently in force in Suriname that deal with due process of law prima
facie violate this non-derogable right.
3. That the
American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man to which the
Government of Suriname is bound as a member state of the Organization of
American States, inter alia, provides:
Every human being has the right to life, liberty and the security of his
Every person may resort to the courts to ensure respect for his legal
rights. There should likewise be available to him a simple, brief
procedure whereby the courts will protect him from acts of authority
that, to his prejudice, violate any fundamental constitutional rights.
No person may be deprived of his liberty except in the cases and
according to the procedures established by pre-existing law.
individual who has been deprived of his liberty has the right to have
the legality of his detention ascertained without delay by a court, and
the right to be tried without undue delay, or otherwise to be released.
He also has the right to humane treatment during the time he is in
Every accused person is presumed to be innocent until proved guilty.
person accused of an offense has the right to be given an impartial and
public hearing, and to be tried by courts previously established in
accordance with pre-existing laws, and not to receive cruel, infamous or
4. That the oral
testimony of the various non-military eye-witnesses interviewed by the
Commission regarding the torture of the subjects of this case and the
denial of due process coincide in their essential aspects and
corroborate the original complaint and are deemed to be credible by the
5. That the
physical evidence viewed by the Commission in Suriname and abroad
bearing on the allegations under consideration tend to corroborate the
original complaint insofar as torture and denial of due process are
6. That the denial
of said allegations by the military authorities cited above is deemed by
the Commission to be unpersuasive.
INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS, RESOLVES:
1. To declare that
the Government of Suriname violated the human rights of the subjects of
this case notwithstanding the fact that some were ultimately released
2. To observe that
the violations in question consist in the practice of torture and the
denial of due process as provided for in Articles I, XVIII, XXV and XXVI
of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man.
3. To recommend to
the Government of Suriname that it immediately commence an exhaustive
investigation into the circumstances of this case and duly prosecute and
punish those persons responsible for the human rights violations cited
4. To recommend
that the Government of Suriname send said report to the IACHR within 60
days of the date of this Resolution.
5. To publish this
Resolution in its next Annual Report to the General Assembly of the
Organization of American States in the event that the recommendations
cited in this Resolution are not satisfactorily implemented.