Democracy and rights
Surinam is an electoral democracy, however,
characterized by corruption and a weak rule of law. The
president himself has been convicted of murder in a
trial that went on for over a decade. The judgment has
Elections are conducted regularly and the opposition
has a fair chance of winning. However, voice purchases
occur. Prior to the 2015 elections, the NDP government
provided, among other things, at least 5,000 people with
government jobs, and more than 5,000 individuals were
allocated land areas (or permits to the land).
Offers a comprehensive list of airports in Suriname, including international airports with city located, size and abbreviation, as well as the biggest airlines.
The electoral authority has stated that people who
have not exercised their right to vote in the last ten
years have been removed from the electoral rolls ahead
of the 2020 elections. According to critics, this
favored the sitting government. Another provision that
favors larger parties is that parties are no longer
allowed to form alliances before the elections.
The National Assembly passed a law against corruption
in 2017 which, however, has not been applicable since
supplementary legislation is lagging behind. In
Transparency International's index of corruption in 180
countries, Surinam is ranked 70th. It is a better
position than most countries in South and Central
America (the full list is here).
Minority groups have relatively little representation
in political assemblies. Only 13 out of 51 MPs were
women after the 2015 elections. Maroons (see Population
and Languages) often have less access to education and
employment than others.
Freedom of expression and media
Freedom of the press and opinion is generally well
respected. Suriname is ranked 20 out of 180 countries in
Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index (list
here). Of all the countries in the Western Hemisphere,
only four are better located (Jamaica, Costa Rica,
Canada and Uruguay).
However, many journalists avoid sensitive topics.
Memories of persecution during the dictatorship of the
1980s sit in. Journalists, for example, rarely report
that those guilty of abuses under military rule are
still free from punishment.
The government has established an increasingly
influential information institute, and uses state media
to give publicity to its work. Other political parties
will only be allowed space in the broadcasts two months
before an election.
Judicial system and legal security
The judicial system in Surinam is formally
independent but is considered to be susceptible to
political pressure. Corruption and a large shortage of
judges and other staff make the judicial system slow and
Police are often accused of brutality, especially in
connection with arrests. The detention and prisons are
often overcrowded and in poor condition.
President Desi Bouterse himself was convicted of
murdering 15 opponents of the military regime in 1982,
when he was army chief (see Modern History). In November
2019, he was sentenced to 20 years in prison for the
murders, but the sentence was immediately appealed (see
Current Policy). The trial began in 2007 against
Bouterse and other suspects for the so-called December
murders. The process has mostly stalled and in 2012
Parliament passed a law granting Bouterse immunity for
crimes committed under military rule. But in 2016, a
military court declared the amnesty law unconstitutional
and the trial resumed. The president was then one of the
14 suspects who remain (several have died). Bouterse has
assumed "political responsibility" for the murders, as
he was the army chief and the country's strong man when
executed, but refuses any direct involvement.