Suriname instructed again by IACHR to recognize rights of indigenous peoples


A post by Peter Jordens.

De Ware Tijd reports that the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) has ordered the State of Suriname to recognize by law the collective rights of indigenous peoples in the Marowijne area. Also, these groups – Kaliña and Lokono – are to be recognized as legal entities and should be consulted when mining and other concessions are being granted in their territory. The territory must also be demarcated. The Court ruled on November 25, 2015 but parties were notified in late January 2016.

In 2007 the Association of Indigenous Village Leaders of Suriname (VIDS) had filed a complaint with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on behalf of the two groups. On January 28, 2014 the Human Rights Commission forwarded the case for consideration to the Human Rights Court, after Suriname had failed to carry out the Commission’s recommendations.

Broadly speaking, the verdict means that the Kaliña and Lokono peoples should be recognized as having juridical personality and should receive collective rights to their territories, without infringement upon the rights of other tribal groups that also live there. Measures should also be taken to ensure that the indigenous peoples gain access to the nature reserves in the area. Furthermore, they should be involved and consulted in the implementation of social and environmental impact studies and enjoy the benefits of the reserves. Government has also been instructed to rehabilitate degraded areas in the Wanekreek Nature Reserve and to set up a community development fund for the two groups. Although Martin Misiedjan, State legal counsel, admits that Suriname has been convicted of violating the rights of the indigenous peoples, he stressed that not all of the demands of the two groups were honored. “They had claimed Albina, the nature reserves, Maroon villages and the Marowijne River, but did not get these.” According to him, the ruling differs little from the [2007] Saamaka Judgment in which the State of Suriname was also convicted of violating territorial rights.

The original news article (in Dutch) is at

The Judgment of November 25, 2015 in the case of the Kaliña and Lokono Peoples versus the State of Suriname can be read here:

The above map was presented by the State of Suriname in its final written arguments and has been included in the IACHR Judgment for illustrative purposes, providing an approximate demarcation of the territories inhabited by the indigenous and Maroon peoples of Suriname.

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