Roman Catholic Bishops in the Caribbean have criticised the recent passage of a legislation that provides an amnesty for 15 people, including President Desi Bouterse implicated in the 1982 death of 15 political opponents.
The bishops, at their Annual Plenary Meeting of the Roman Catholic Bishops of the Antilles Episcopal Conference (AEC) said they had taken “note with concern the adoption by the National Assembly of Suriname of an amendment to the 1992 Amnesty Law which could have a direct impact on the trial of the current President and other co-defendants for their alleged involvement in the extra-judicial execution of 15 political opponents in December 1982”.
They said the amnesty also had implications for “any other trials that might seek justice in cases of human rights violations committed during the period covered by the amnesty law”. In the statement, the Bishops of the Dutch, French and English-speaking Caribbean said they were joining “many other international human rights and religious groups in urging that the judiciary of Suriname continue to fulfil its obligation to uphold human rights law and assures the people and church in Suriname of the prayerful support of the AEC as they seek development, peace and justice in their country”.
Last month, the London-based human rights group, Amnesty International, sent an open letter to the judiciary in Suriname reminding it of its obligation to uphold human rights law. Amnesty International said human rights must also be upheld in any other trials that might seek justice in cases of human rights violations committed during the period covered by the amnesty law.
Amnesty International said that the justice system in Suriname is currently living through “one of these critical moments in which its independence is being subjected to pressure by the current President’s barely disguised attempt to escape justice for his alleged participation in the murder in December 1982 of 15 opponents of the military regime which he himself then headed.