CIVICUS

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Suriname

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Last updated on 01.01.2018 at 10:54

Suriname-Overview

Suriname has an active civil society that includes human rights groups, gender equality groups, community organisations, indigenous groups, faith-based organisations, and trade unions, with a history of connecting with civil society across the Caribbean region.

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The Civic Space Developments

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Protests remain peaceful despite heavy police presence

Protests remain peaceful despite heavy police presence

Three recent demonstrations went ahead without incident, though one of them was heavily monitored by police for fear that it could get out of hand.

Peaceful Assembly

In recent weeks, three large-scale strikes and protests went ahead without incident, although one of them was heavily monitored by police for fear that it could turn violent. In January, teachers' unions mobilised steadily over an eight-day period in order to protest against delays and inefficiencies within the Ministry of Education and against a number of policies of the Ministry. The strike was supported by the Suriname Workers Union as well as the political opposition. Although many uniformed police officers and members of the mobile police unit were present at the protest site in case violence erupted, no intervention was deemed necessary. Nevertheless, some opposition politicians claimed that the heavy police presence had the effect of intimidating the protestors.

On 26th November, Suriname's Independence Day, a silent protest was held without incident against President Desire Delano Bouterse. In early January, a bus operatiors group (PLO) warned the government that they would temporarily interrupt service unless they were paid arrears owed to them. They also said that they would rather accept an increase in bus rates than a government subsidy, which makes them feel like they are being "duped".

Association

Article 20 of the Constitution guarantees the freedom of association, with exceptions on the grounds of public order, safety, health and morality.

Article 20 of the Constitution guarantees the freedom of association, with exceptions on the grounds of public order, safety, health and morality. These rights are largely respected in practice.However, one potential constraint is that the law allows people to be detained for eight days with no communication or legal representation when being investigated for serious crimes.

Peaceful Assembly

Article 20 of the Constitution also upholds the freedom of assembly, except on the grounds of public order, safety, health and morality.

Article 20 of the Constitution also upholds the freedom of assembly, except on the grounds of public order, safety, health and morality. These rights can largely be enjoyed in practice.However, civil servants do not have the right to strike. A series of protests took place in 2016 and 2017 on economic and cost of living issues, such as electricity price hikes, following the imposition of International Monetary Fund (IMF)-backed austerity measures.

Expression

The freedom of expression is guaranteed in Article 19 of the Constitution. There are diverse media outlets, including several independent newspapers, many privately-owned radio stations and one non-state TV station.

The freedom of expression is guaranteed in Article 19 of the Constitution. There are diverse media outlets, including several independent newspapers, many privately-owned radio stations and one non-state TV station. Government officials have however sometimes excluded critical media from press conferences and refused to speak to independent media, privileging state-owned media. There are no reported internet restrictions. Criminal defamation and libel remain as offences and there is no access to information legislation.