INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES WIN LAND-RIGHTS BATTLE IN SURINAME

03/14/2016

In February, the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights ruled that Suriname is responsible for multiple violations against the Kaliña and Lokono indigenous peoples of Suriname. There are approximately 20,344 indigenous individuals in Suriname, comprising 3.8% of the population. A formal complaint was filed in January 2007 regarding the Lower Marowijne, Suriname’s most important estuary and home to many bird species and the leatherback sea turtle. The lawsuit alleged that the nation violated the rights of eight indigenous communities via laws that strip communal rights to property and land, as well as through a lack of governmental institutions that recognize the rights of indigenous people to the natural resources in their territories. Suriname has historically given out land titles to non-indigenous individuals, granted licenses and concessions to mining operations without receiving consent from indigenous communities, and operated natural reserves within indigenous territories. The Commission's unprecedented decision demands that Kaliña and Lokono territories be titled, demarcated, and delimited, and requires a third party to conduct formal processes to determine restitution of lands within three years. Suriname must also rehabilitate the damage done by the mining companies Alcoa and BHP Billiton. Finally, Suriname must implement “guarantees of non-repetition,” which must legally recognize the territorial and other rights of indigenous peoples in Suriname. For the full story, see http://news.mongabay.com/2016/03/indigenous-rights-win-big-against-mining-in-suriname/.