REPORT Nº 26/00
CASE 11.821
VILLAGE OF MOIWANA
SURINAME
March 7, 2000
I.

SUMMARY

1. The petition was lodged by the human rights organization Moiwana ’86 of Suriname on June
27, 1997, and concerns the extrajudicial execution of more than 40 residents of Moiwana, a
village belonging to one of Suriname’s maroon communities, and the intentional destruction of
their property by members of the Army of that country. The petition also addresses the failure
to provide a fair trial with due process, and compensation for those acts. The State did not
answered the Commission’s requests for information about the petition. The Commission after
analyzing the petition and the fulfillment of the requisites provided for the application of the
American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man (the “Declaration”) and the American
Convention on Human Rights (the “Convention”), decided to declare the case admissible in
respect to alleged violations of Articles I, right to life, liberty and personal security; VII. right
to protection for mothers and children; IX. right to inviolability of the home; XXIII, right to
property; all of them of the Declaration; and Articles 8(1), right to a fair trial; and 25(2) right
to judicial protection, and Article 1(1) Obligation to respect rights of the Convention.
II.

PROCESSING BY THE COMMISSION

2. The Commission received the petition on June 27, 1997, and transmitted it to the
Government on October 30 of that year, requesting a reply within the next 90 days. Faced with
the Government’s failure to reply, the Commission repeated the request on two occasions,
June 2, 1998, and February 25, 1999, indicating that it would consider application of Article 42
of its Regulations in the event no reply were received within the next 30 days. To date the
Commission has not received any response from the State.
III. POSITION OF THE PARTIES
A.

The petitioner

3. By way of general background information, the petition says that in 1980 a group of officers
of the National Army of Suriname carried out a coup d’état and their leader, Desi Bouterse,
declared himself Commander-in-Chief of the Army. Those military officers proceeded to
appoint a civilian administration, which announced it would call elections. However, no such
elections were ever held and instead there followed a period of serious and systematic human
rights violations, which were documented overall by the IACHR in several reports 1.
4. As specific background information, the petition mentions that in 1986 an armed opposition
group (the “Jungle Commando”) was set up with the support of Surnames exiles living in
Holland and under the leadership of Ronnie Brunswick, a former member of Desi Bouterse’s
guard. That group’s initial activities were attacks on military posts in Eastern Suriname in the
territory of the Ndjuka maroons, the people to which Brunswick and most of his armed
followers belong. The Army responded with extensive operations in the region and with
systematic and collective reprisals against the civilian maroon population, alleging they were
collaborating with the Jungle Commando. Villages of maroons who belonged to other tribes
and lived in different regions were targeted for reprisal by the Surnames Army, which killed
between 150 and 200 civilians. It should be recalled, inter alia, that the IACHR documented2
cases where the maroons had been made victims of forced starvation, illegal cuts in benefits,
and “ethnocide.”

1

Reports on the Situation of Human Rights in Suriname, 1983 and 1985, several resolutions (including those
published in the 1988-89 Annual Report, p. 123-54) and two cases before the Inter-American Court (Nº 10.150 and
10.274).
2
IACHR 1986-97 Annual Report, p. 263-65.
1

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