Statement VIDS bij de VN Human Rights Council in Geneve

Vandaag, 8 juli, wordt het rapport van Suriname naar het BUPO verdrag (VN Verdrag over Burger – en Politieke Rechten) behandeld door de Human Rights Council (VN Mensenrechten Raad). Bij dit soort gelegenheden mogen maatschappelijk organisaties een schaduwrapport indienen bij de VN. Dit heeft VIDS gedaan samen met organisaties in Suriname onder leiding van Stichting Projekta. VIDS heeft daarnaast ook een eigen schaduwrapport geschreven samen met IPRI (Indigenous Peoples Rights International).

Bij de behandeling vandaag op de 141ste sessie van de International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in Geneve, heeft basja Louis Biswane van Pierre Kondre namens VIDS de volgende statement afgelegd:

Statement on behalf of all Indigenous Peoples in Suriname to the 141st session of the UN ICCPR, Geneva 1-23 July 2024

Thank you Chairperson,

I will provide an overview of the shadow report submitted by the Association of Indigenous Village Leaders in Suriname (VIDSVereniging van Inheemse Dorpshoofden in Suriname in Dutch) which represents all Indigenous peoples in Suriname, and Indigenous Peoples Rights International, a global Indigenous peoples’ organization. I respectfully urge you to take into account the whole report, especially our recommendations.

Despite three orders of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Suriname has yet to legally recognize our rights. It has drafted a law on the same, but it has been stuck in the legislature since 2021. This draft law recognizes our right to self-determination, as recognized in the Covenant and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous peoples, as well as our collective legal personality and, to some extent, rights to our territories. Even if enacted though, it defers various issues to future implementing laws that have yet to even be drafted.

As noted above, this draft law was submitted to Parliament in June 2021. In January 2023, the law was finally tabled for discussion but contained unacceptable amendments, weakening major articles of the draft. These amendments are discriminatory and contrary to Suriname’s obligations under international law.  Moreover, they nullify one of the main purposes of this law, which is to provide Indigenous and Tribal peoples legal security and protection over our traditional lands, territories and resources. Our concerns in this regard have been made abundantly clear, many times, to Parliament and the government without any adequate response.

This unilaterally amended draft was again briefly discussed – without any conclusion – by Parliament between January and August 2023. Nothing concrete has been heard since then.  Recently, the Minister of Foreign Affairs mentioned in the press that yet another commission will be established to review the draft law. We were not involved or consulted, nor has any reason been given, even though this regards a desperately needed law that would finally recognize our rights as IPs.

I stress again that such legislation was ordered in three judgments of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (2005, 2007 and 2015). These orders require Suriname to adopt legislative measures to recognize our rights, including our legal personality and legal recognition of our traditional authorities and their jurisdiction, the State continues to unreasonably delay and confound the legal recognition and protection of the rights of ITPs. This is how bad it is in Suriname: our legal personality is not even recognized.

I will not talk about the many other human rights’ violations and discrimination we have to experience in Suriname.  Please see our full report for those details.  I only call upon you as Human Rights Committee to undertake your utmost effort to stop this.  We are slowly but steadily driven to extinction, driven out of our own lands, our ancestral waters and lands are poisoned and taken away from us.  How long can this go on, unpunished, I ask you.  Please do something.

Thank you, Chairperson