PARAMARIBO, Suriname ,April 12, CMC – The Netherlands is suspending development aid to Suriname in protest over the amnesty legislation passed last week by the Suriname parliament, Dutch Foreign Minister, Uri Rosenthal, informed the Dutch parliament on Wednesday.
Over the next three years Suriname would have received the remaining 20 million euros of the 1,6 billion euros in development aid pledged to the former Dutch colony when it gained independence in November 1975.
The Netherlands is disgruntled over the controversial amnesty law which is seeking to grant immunity for 25 suspects including President Desi Bouterse for the extra-judicial executions of 15 opponents of Bouterse’s then military government on December 1982 in military headquarters Fort Zeelandia.
Dutch Prime-Minister Mark Rutte said last week that the amnesty was “unacceptable” and warned that serious consequences would follow.
Just hours after the amnesty bill was sanctioned by the Suriname legislature, The Hague recalled its ambassador to discuss the matter.
Minister Rosenthal told legislators that Ambassador Aart Jacobi won’t return to Paramaribo for the time being.
While the government said no further aid will be sent to the Surinamese government, Dutch members of parliament advised the government not to victimize the Suriname populace but to work out modalities to channel the remaining monies to human rights groups and other civil organizations in Suriname.
Minister Rosenthal argued that the decision to suspend development aid is not meant as punishment for the Surinamese people, but rather as a sanction against the Bouterse administration.
“The main objective of giving aid is to assist the people of the country. For that matter when we impose sanctions, it is also imperative that they do not hurt the people, even if these sanctions are against a government we don’t like”, he argued.
According to Minister Rosenthal the government will mobilize international support for wider sanctions against Suriname.
He disclosed that the Netherlands will use its observer’s status at the Organization of American States (OAS) to seek support from the hemispheric body and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) to protest against the amnesty law in Suriname.
Meanwhile the Dutch government is imposing visa restrictions for the 25 murder suspects and is mobilizing support for visa sanctions for the entire Schengen area.
These sanctions will however not apply to four of the suspects who are Dutch nationals and Suriname’s ambassador to France Harvey Naarendorp, who is also a defendant in the 1982 murder case, due to his diplomatic immunity.