18 August 2010

President responsible for murder of journalists and activists

In a breathtaking case of impunity, Desi Bouterse was sworn in as President of Suriname on 12 August despite being charged with the murders of five journalists in 1982 while he was dictator, according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

Trained as a soldier, Bouterse first came to power in 1980 and ruled the country with "an iron hand" from 1980-1987 and 1990-1991, callously violating human rights. Five journalists were among a total of 15 pro-democracy activists executed on 8 December 1982 under his purview.

After the massacre, soldiers set fire to the premises of Radio ABC, Radio Radika and the daily newspaper "De Vrije Stem". No independent media was permitted to operate under Bouterse. Only state radio SRS and the daily "De Ware Tijd" functioned.

Sentenced to 11 years in prison in absentia in the Netherlands in 1999 on a charge of drug trafficking, Bouterse is still facing a 20-year prison term in Suriname if convicted of the 1982 massacre.

He asserts that he has recognised his political responsibility for the murders, but he has never admitted to being directly involved. While leader of the main opposition party, he tried many times to persuade parliament to pass an amnesty law.

More from Suriname
  • Freedom of the Press 2015: Suriname

    Ranked 57th in annual global media freedom report

  • World Press Freedom Index 2014: Suriname

    Ranked 31st in annual press freedom index

  • Freedom of the Press 2013: Suriname

    Ranked 40th in annual global media freedom report

At this point, would publish cover: "Home page"
IFEX is a global network of committed organisations working to defend and promote free expression.
Permission is granted for material on this website to be reproduced or republished in whole or in part provided the source member and/or IFEX is cited with a link to the original item.