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Suriname

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Last updated on 05.11.2020 at 13:36

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Suriname elects new leader, ousting government in power for a decade

Suriname elects new leader, ousting government in power for a decade

On 13th July 2020, Suriname’s National Assembly elected a new president, opposition leader and former police chief Chan Santokhi of the Progressive Reform Party, after the governing party lost its majority in parliamentary elections.

On 13th July 2020, Suriname’s National Assembly elected a new president, opposition leader and former police chief Chan Santokhi of the Progressive Reform Party, after the governing party lost its majority in parliamentary elections.

The government change ousted president Dési Bouterse, who had been in power for ten years and was a prominent political figure in the country for decades. Bouterse was also convicted of murder and sentenced to 20 years in jail by a Suriname court in November 2019, for his responsibility in killings that took place in the 1980s when he was chairman of the National Military Council.

Peaceful Assembly

In February 2020, before parliamentary elections, anti-government protesters gathered over several days against former president Dési Bouterse and his National Democratic Party (NDP). The demonstrations started over increased fuel prices and living costs, as well as reports of misuse of government funds.

In March 2020, a government decision to impose new restrictions on foreign currency transactions outraged business leaders, leading business associations to convene a strike on 25th March 2020.

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.