REPORT Nº 76/07
PETITION 198-07
ADMISSIBILITY
THE KALIŇA AND LOKONO PEOPLES
SURINAME
October 15, 2007
I.

SUMMARY

1. On February 16, 2007, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (“the Commission”
or “the IACHR”) received a petition lodged on behalf of the Kaliňa and Lokono Indigenous
Peoples of the Lower Marowijne River (hereinafter referred to as “the alleged victims” or “the
Kaliňa and Lokono Peoples” or “the Lower Marowijne Peoples”) against the Republic of
Suriname (“Suriname” or “the State”). The petition was jointly filed by the following
petitioners:
a) The village leaders of each of the eight Kaliňa and Lokono communities/villages of
the Lower Marowijne River: Richard Pané (Kaliňa) of the village of Christiaankondre,
Ramses Kajoeramari (Kaliňa) of the village of Langamankondre, Henry Zaalman
(Lokono) of the village of Wan Shi Sha, Romeo Pierre (Kaliňa) of the village of
Pierrekondre, Harold Galgren (Lokono) of the village of Alfonsdorp, Leo Maipio (Kaliňa)
of the village of Bigiston, Jona Gunther (Kaliňa) of the village of Erowarte, and Frans
Pierre (Kaliňa) of the village of Tapuku.
b) The Vererniging van Inheese Dorpshoofden in Suriname (in English, the Association
of Indigenous Village Leaders in Suriname), an association of indigenous leaders from
each of the 46 indigenous villages in Suriname.
c) The Commissie Landrechten Inheemsen Beneden-Marowijne (in English, The Lower
Marowijne Indigenous Land Rights Commission), which is described as the “working
arm”1 of the Association of Indigenous Village Leaders in Suriname.
2. The Petitioners are represented by Fergus MacKay (counsel), David Padilla (co-counsel) and
Jacqueline Jubithana (co-counsel).
3. According to the Petitioners, the Kaliňa and Lokono Peoples have traditionally owned or
otherwise occupied their traditional lands, territory, and resources for thousands of years. The
Petitioners maintain that their ownership rights arise from their customary laws and tenure,
which vest paramount title collectively in the Kaliňa and Lokono Peoples and subsidiary rights
in extended kinship groups associated with the eight villages each of which hold rights over
defined areas of the overall territory. The Petitioners further state that the territory of the
Kaliňa and Lokono Peoples provides the basis for the vast majority of their subsistence and
other material and non-material needs and values.
4. The Petitioners complain that the indigenous property rights of the Lower Marowijne Peoples
are neither recognized nor respected in the laws of Suriname, in violation of the American
Convention on Human Rights (“the Convention”) Suriname’s laws (a) vest ownership of all
untitled lands and all natural resources in the State; (b) fail to provide adequate and effective
judicial or other remedies to protect the indigenous property rights of the Lower Marowijne
Peoples; (c) do not recognize the juridical personality of the alleged victims for the purpose of
holding title or for exercising or seeking protection for their communal rights. More specifically,
the Petitioners contend that the State has violated Articles 3, 21 and 25 (in conjunction with
Articles 1 and 2) of the Convention by:
a) issuing approximately 20 land titles between 1976 and 2006 to non-indigenous
persons over lands in four of the villages of the Lower Marowijne Peoples (Erowarte,
Tapuku, Pierrekondre, and Wan Shi Sha);

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See Petitioners’ petition, page 3.
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