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Suriname[1] [print]

Last edited: December 2005

 

Summary and Analysis

Suriname ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child [CRC] in March of 1993, effectively giving it legal authority inferior only to the Constitution.[2]  Since ratification, the government has approved a law prohibiting the discrimination against children out of wedlock and established the Steering Committee on Youth, a panel responsible for advising the government on children's rights.  Government ministries drafted several bills to better incorporate the CRC in domestic legislation, but social and economic turbulence has created other priorities for the legislature.[3]  Currently, the Civil Code and the Constitution govern the protection of children.

Despite the lack of legislated procedural rules for investigating reports of child maltreatment or neglect Suriname does have several governmental agencies working in the child protection arena.  Complaints are submitted to the office of the Public Prosecution or to the police after which the Public Prosecution office investigates in preparation for a criminal case.  Suriname reported to the Committee on the Rights of the Child that often non-governmental organizations conduct their own investigations and then report incidents to the proper authorities.[4]  The Youth Police of the Ministry of Justice and Police consults the child, arranges for a medical investigation, and, if need be, removes the child from his home for “guidance.”  Suriname reported to the Inter-American Children's Institute of the Organization of American States that after the guidance process, the child can choose between returning home or living with a foster family or relative.  If the parent's contest the decision, the courts may bestow guardianship on the Huber Foundation, a non-governmental organization working in the placement and care of children removed from home.[5]  It should be noted that Suriname has a “kweekjes” system in which a parent who is struggling socio-economically may voluntarily place a child in a foster family without officially transferring guardianship.[6]

Though there is currently no legislation in Suriname providing for the right of children to be heard in protective proceedings, the country reported to the Committee on the Rights of the Child that in practice judges do ascertain the wishes of the child.[7]  On the other hand, the Committee noted that traditional attitudes in Suriname deem the child who speaks out as “impudent” or “impertinent.”[8]  The Civil Code does, however, provide for children over 12 to be heard in adoption proceedings, and the government of Suriname reports a proposed comprehensive bill which would provide for children over 12 to be heard in custody proceedings.[9]

Suriname experiences a number of factors which hinder the full implementation of the CRC.  Most notable was the country's economic crisis in the mid-1990s, in which average annual inflation rates escalated to a high of 369%.  The population experienced increasing unemployment and poverty, and the economy did not begin to stabilize until the end of 2000.[10]  Furthermore, the political situation has been unstable, impeding the development and implementation of policies and programs.  The government has acknowledged that there is a severe shortage of counseling services and adequate alternative care for abused children.[11]  The U.S. State Department reported that trafficking in women and girls to, through, and within the country for prostitution remains a major problem, and there have been recent reports of trafficking in Hindustani and Javanese boys for prostitution.[12]  The government of the Dutch Commission on Foreign Affairs recently asked the government of Suriname several critical questions regarding child rights, including an inquiry about reports that children have been placed in overcrowded prisons and abused repeatedly.  The government responded, “It is continuously in the center of our concern” and stated that one of the ways in which the Netherlands is helping is through legal advice in the reform of the Penal Code in order to better implement the CRC.[13] 

 

Sources of Law (In Order of Authority)

Original Text

Constitution

Grondwet van de Republiek Suriname[14]

Artikel 35.

. . . 3. Ieder kind heeft recht op bescherming zonder enige vorm van discriminatie . . .

International Law

Verdrag voor de Rechten van het Kind[15]

Artikel 12.

1. De Staten die partij zijn, verzekeren het kind dat in staat is zijn eigen mening te vormen, het recht die mening vrijelijk te uiten in alle aangelegenheden die het kind betreffen, waarbij aan de mening van het kind passend belang wordt gehecht in overeenstemming met zijn leeftijd en rijpheid.

2. Hiertoe wordt het kind met name in de gelegenheid gesteld te worden gehoord in iedere gerechtelijke en bestuurlijke procedure die het kind betreft, hetzij rechtstreeks, hetzij door tussenkomst van een vertegenwoordiger of een daarvoor geschikte instelling, op een wijze die verenigbaar is met de procedureregels van het nationale recht.

Statutes

Surinaams Burgerlijk Wetboek[16]

Boek 1, Titel 14, Art. 371b

. . . 2. Indien de regter het in het belang der kinderen noodzakelijk oordeelt, kan ieder der ouders, voor zoover hij de ouderlijke magt nog niet verloren heeft, op verzoek van de anderen der ouders, van een der bloedverwanten of anngehuwden der kinderen tot den vierden graad ingesloten, van den voogdijraad of op de vordering van het openbaar ministerie van de ouderlijke magt over alle of over een of meer kinderen worden ontzet op grond van:

1°.  misbruik van de ouderlijke magt of grove verwaarloozing van de verpligting tot onderhoud en opvoeding van een of meer kinderen;

2°.  slecht levensgedrag;

3°.  onherroepelijke veroordeeling wegens het opzettelijk deelnemen aan eenig misdrijf met een aan zijn gezag onderworpen minderjarigel;

4°.  onherroepelijke veroordeeling wegens eenig misdrijf, omschreven in de Titels XIII, XIV, XV, XVIII, XIX, en XX van het tweede boek van het Surinaamseh Wetboek van Stragrecht, gepleegd tegen een aan zijn magt onderworpen minderjarige;

 

Translation[17]

Constitution

Constitution of the Republic of Suriname[18]

Article 35

. . . 3. Every child shall have the right to protection without any form of discrimination . . .

International Law

Convention on the Rights of the Child, [19] ratified Mar. 1, 1993

Article 12

1. States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.

2. For this purpose, the child shall in particular be provided the opportunity to be heard in any judicial and administrative proceedings affecting the child, either directly, or through a representative or an appropriate body, in a manner consistent with the procedural rules of national law.

Statutes

Civil Code of Suriname[20]

Book 1, Title 14, Art.371b

. . . 2.  If the judge decides it to be in the interest of the children's needs, both parents can, to the extent that they possess remaining parental authority, including exhausted requests for all, one, or more children as far as the fourth circuit, from the other parents, from his own blood-relatives or relatives by marriage of the child, from the child welfare board, or exhausted demands from the public department of parental authority, be relieved of their authority on the basis of:

    1° abuse of the parental authority or grave neglect of the obligation as far as the support and upbringing of one or more children;

    2° depraved life conduct;

    3° inevitable conviction due to intentional participation in some offence with a malleable minor in his power;

    4° inevitable conviction due to some crime, outlines in Titles XIII, XIV, XV, XVIII, XIX, and XX of the second book of the Surinamese Penal Code, completed against a submissive minor in his authority . . .

 



Endnotes

[1] This page is also available as a .pdf Document, and Word Document.

[2] Surin. Const., art. 106 (1992) available at http://www.georgetown.edu/pdba/Constitutions/Suriname/english.html and also here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[3] Second periodic report of States parties (non-edited version) : Suriname. 07/11/2005, Committee on the Rights of the Child, ¶ B, C, I B(2), U.N. Doc. CRC/C/93/Add.9 [herinafter Second periodic report] available at http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf, and also here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[4] See id, ¶ V D.

[5].Republic of Suriname, National Report on Family Life at 7 (Sept. 2004) available http://www.iin.oea.org/anales_xix_cpn/docs_e/National_Reports/SURINAME/National_Report_Suriname.doc, and also here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[6] See id., ¶ V C.

[7] See id, ¶ III B(1).

[8] Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child : Suriname. 28/06/2000, Committee on the Rights of the Child, 24th Sess., 641st mtg., ¶ 29, U.N. Doc. CRC/C/15/Add.130 available at http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf, and also here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[9] Second periodic report, ¶ III C, supra note 2.

[10] See id, ¶ B.

[11] See id, ¶ V C.

[12] Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, Human Rights Report: Suriname, U.S. State Department, §5 (2005) available http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/41775.htm, and also here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[13] Een rijke relatie. Suriname en Nederland: heden en toekomst [A Rich Relationship: Suriname and The Netherlands, present and future], Kamerstuk 20361 n. 116, Dutch Commission on Foreign Affairs, Question 16 (2004) available at http://www.minbuza.nl/default.asp?CMS_ITEM=CE1911FEAE9A404895D06951FF31221BX3X70336X13.

[14] Grondwet van de Republiek Suriname [Surin. Const.], art. 35 (1992) available at http://www.georgetown.edu/pdba/Constitutions/Suriname/dutch.html and also here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[15] G.A. Res. 44/125, U.N. GAOR, 44th Session, Supp. No. 49, U.N. Doc. A/44/736 (1989) available at http://www.unicef.org/magic/resources/CRC_dutch_language_version.pdf.

[16] Surinaams Burgerlijk Wetboek [Sur. Burg. Wetboek], art. 371b(2) available as .pdf Document.

[17] The translations are unofficial.

[18] Surin. Const., art. 35, supra note 1.

[19] G.A. Res. 44/125, U.N. GAOR, 44th Session, Supp. No. 49, U.N. Doc. A/44/736 (1989).

[20] Civil Code of Suriname, art. 371b(2).

 

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