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The case against Suriname's President Desi Bouterse

2015 The NF is supporting families of the victims of the “December Murders” committed in 1982 in Suriname in bringing a case before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. Among those accused of the murders is Suriname’s current president, Desi Bouterse, who at that time was dictator of the country.In February 1980, Bouterse – then a sergent of the National Military Council - and other military officers overthrew the government of Suriname in a coup-d’etat and began a military dicatorship. Two years later, on 7th and 8th December 1982, 15 political opponents of the regime were brutally tortured and killed in Fort Zeelandia in Paramaribo. Since then Bouterse has been regarded as the principal suspect in relation to these murders. However, it was only 25 years later, in 2007, that victims’ families succeded in bringing a case against Bouterse, together with 24 co-accused, before a military court.In 2010, Despite the ongoing criminal proceedings against him, Bouterse was elected president. In 2012 the Parliament approved an amendment to the amnesty law which would protect perpetrators of criminal offences committed ‘in the context of defence of the state’. The military court promptly suspended the case against Bouterse pending referral of the amnesty law to the Constitutional Court for review. However, to date the Constitutional Court of Suriname has not been established. Since accountability in Suriname therefore seems unattainable at the moment, the NF is hopeful that the Inter-American Court of Human Rights will finally bring justice for the victims’ families.