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Suriname Human Rights
Decisions can be appealed to the Court of Justice. The military court system follows the same rules of procedure as the civil courts.
Crimes committed by members of the military are investigated by military police. Military prosecutions are conducted by an officer on the public prosecutor's staff and decided by two military judges and one civilian judge. The Ministry of Justice and Police Ministerie van Justitie en Politie is the executive branch institution responsible for overseeing the police and drafting police related to the judicial and prison system. The government generally respected judicial independence as established by the constitution, although there are occasional reports of political influence exerted in the judiciary.
Trials are generally fair and public; defendants have the right to counsel, enjoy the presumption of innocence, and have the right to appeal. Juries are not used.
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Trial delays are a problem due to the shortage of judges, something which has led to a backlog of cases. The case backlog is exacerbated by administrative issues in the judiciary, such as a lack of professional court managers and case management system, and infrastructure challenges, among them a lack of sufficient physical space. Only Prison facilities in the country—overseen by the Ministry of Justice and Police—are unsanitary and conditions are very poor, according to the US State Department, although the government has taken some steps to correct this by building new facilities.
There have been some isolated incidents involving abuse of prisoners by guards and the rate of pre-trial detention is a concern, something which is largely driven by inefficiencies in the courts system. Overcrowding is reported by the US State Department to be a problem though no figures are given on the inmate population.
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The police are divided into four divisions: Judicial which includes units focused on intelligence, narcotics and fraud, among others , General, Paramaribo, and the Interior. Under the law and in practice individuals are arrested only when a warrant has been issued. Detainees have the right to a prompt judicial determination of the legality of their arrest. There is no bail system. Suriname's police have a community police manager who is tasked with problem solving and violence prevention efforts at the community levels.
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There are no reports of unlawful or politically motivated killings by the security forces, although human rights groups have reported mistreatment of detainees by police. The police suffer from low salaries, insufficient coordination with the armed forces, and a lack of training and equipment. There is a widespread perception of impunity for police who commit abuses. A majority of Surinamese Compared to other countries surveyed by the UNDP, Suriname had the highest willingness to report crimes, with The armed forces, which number roughly 2, personnel, are under the authority of the Ministry of the Defence Ministerie van Defensie and include ground, naval, and air forces.
The military is tasked with national security and border control; military police are responsible for immigration control at ports of entry.
Suriname's national development priorities are framed in its National Development Plan Ontwikkelingsplan. This plan is focused on developing essential economic sectors, such as agriculture, mining, education, and health care, and on promoting rural development and poverty alleviation. With regards to security, the government is aiming to reduce all levels of crime and improve inter-agency cooperation between the police and armed forces.
The UNDP Suriname has supported the government's effort to strengthen the legal aid system and increase public awareness of human rights through a joint effort with the Ministry of Justice and Police called the Human Rights, Access to Justice and Anti-Corruption Project. This aimed to set out a clear procedural and ethical guideline that penitentiary staff must follow. Suriname has recently taken steps to improve its money laundering laws, passing four laws in response to recommendations from the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force.
In , the government expanded the authority of the Office for Police Conduct, making it easier to investigate citizen's complaints against police. In November , Suriname established an Inter-Ministerial Technical Commission on Citizen Security to advise the government on developing public policies to address citizen security issues. Under the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative CBSI , a US government-funded program, the government of Suriname has received training and technical assistance to counter money laundering and aid for workforce training programmes for at-risk youth, thus helping reduce the likelihood they will turn to crime.
In Suriname signed an agreement with the OAS to receive a firearms marking machine to combat illicit weapons trafficking.
Suriname has a unicameral parliament, the National Assembly Nationale Assemblee. It has 51 members who are directly elected for terms of five years. Generally the National Assembly does not have a strong track record on oversight, and has not been able to hold the government accountable.
Big challenges ahead
Government corruption is a serious issue and the government has not effectively implemented existing laws regarding official corruption. Though this score represented an improvement from the previous year's score, it underscores that successful engagement with the government on reform issues could be difficult in some cases due to corruption.
More personnel, including judges and court employees, are needed, along with more training and technical skill development. There is also a great need for efforts to modernise judicial infrastructure and to create an efficient case management system. Violence among prisoners and mistreatment of both male and female inmates by guards remain a problem. This suggests there may be political will to address the problem in earnest. There may also be room for cooperation with the OAS, who have conducted visits to monitor the state of Suriname's prisons and provided recommendations.
There is much to be done to make Suriname's police force more effective and professional, given that currently the police are underfunded and not sufficiently trained.