Friday, 6 April 2012

Suriname: President granted immunity

This blog has rarely mentioned South America's smallest independent country, Suriname - in fact, it has linked to a story about it just once, back in 2009. Suriname has a total population around half of the city where I live. But now the former Dutch colony has made the international news for granting its president, Desi Bouterse, immunity for crimes committed under his previous military dictatorship.

The amnesty law, which was passed by 28 votes to 12 in the Surinamese parliament, seems to fall under the "look ahead, not behind" category of measures and is also an attempt to solve the difficulty of having a serving president on trial for murder.

Ronnie Brunswijk, leader of the Maroon party and former Bouterse foe who joined the coalition that elected him president, voted in favor of the amnesty legislation "with a lot of pain in my heart." He apologized to relatives of the victims of the December 1982 killings but said the country could not afford to have its president convicted at a trial.

A slightly odd argument really. I would've thought that if you have a president likely to be convicted of murder, the problem is more with the president than with the trial - but maybe that's just me.

Suriname lawmakers adopt amnesty for president (AP)
Suriname parliament gives President Bouterse immunity (BBC)

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