The Republic of Suriname and its compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Articles 1, 26 and 27: The Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Maroons in Suriname

The Republic of Suriname and its compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Articles 1, 26 and 27: The Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Maroons in Suriname

Submission of the Forest Peoples Programme  concerning the Republic of Suriname and its Compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

Articles 1, 26 and 27: The Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Maroons in Suriname NGO Report

Contents

  1. I      Executive Summary
  2. II.    The Forest Peoples Programme
  3. III.    Indiginous Peoples and Maroons in suriname - Basic Information
  4. IV.    Human Rights Situation of Indiginous Peoples and Maroons in Suriname - General Overview
  5. V.     Articles 1 and 27 – Indigenous and Maroon land, resource and subsistence rights and the right to enjoy culture and use their language

A.  The Jurisprudence of the Committee under Article 27 B.  Article 1 C. The Situation in suriname - Land and Resource Rights  D.  Linguistic Rights  

VI.    Article 26 – Non-Discrimination

VII.   Article 2 – Implementation of the Covenant

VIII.  Concluding Remarks and Suggested Questions

_____________________________________

Annex A - Buskondre Dey Protocol of April 1, 2000

Annex B - Petition to the Suriname Government Concerning the Situation in Adjoemakondre

Annex C - Raiding the Rain Forest. Philadelphia Inquirer Article

Executive Summary

1.             This NGO report has been prepared to provide the Human Rights Committee with information concerning the rights of Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Suriname, primarily under Articles 1, 26 and 27 of the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. It is intended to assist the Committee to formulate questions to the State with regard to its compliance with the Covenant. A number of specific questions have been proposed herein in relation to the rights of Indigenous and Tribal peoples guaranteed under the Covenant (see Section VIII, below). These questions and a summary of the main points raised in this report are also repeated here:

a.    The rights of Indigenous and Maroon peoples to practice, enjoy and maintain their cultures, to be secure in their means of subsistence, to freely dispose of their natural wealth and to participate in decisions affecting them, as provided for in articles 1 and 27, are neither recognized nor respected at present in Suriname. This is especially true when it comes to land and resource rights. Indigenous and Maroon culture and identity are fundamentally tied to their relationship with their ancestral lands, territories and resources. Without strong, effective and enforceable rights to these lands, territories and resources, their cultural integrity is seriously undermined and denied.

Suggested Question 1: What has the government of Suriname done to give effect to the rights of Indigenous and Maroon peoples as defined by articles 1 and 27?In particular, what legislative, administrative or other measure have been taken to identify, demarcate and title Indigenous and Maroon lands and territories traditionally occupied and used?

Suggested Question 2: Given that land and resource rights are fundamentally related to the right of Indigenous and Maroon peoples to enjoy their culture, to be secure in their means of subsistence and to freely dispose of their natural wealth and resources, what measures exist or are planned to address this issue?

b.    The expansion of resource exploitation operations in the interior has seriously threatened and undermined Indigenous peoples and Maroons’ resource base, on which they depend for their basic subsistence needs. Their right to a healthy environment is also routinely violated.

Suggested Question 3: Given the increase in logging and mining activities in the interior of Suriname in recent years, can you explain what the Government has done to ensure that these activities do not compromise the rights of Indigenous and Maroon peoples to exercise and enjoy their rights under articles 1 and 27?

Suggested Question 4: How does the Government propose to address the rights of Indigenous and Maroon peoples to a healthy environment in which they can enjoy their culture and other rights?

c.    There is no mechanism in Surinamese law to provide for the informed participation and consent of Indigenous peoples in decisions that affect them. This is especially the case concerning decisions about their lands and resources and whether concessions are issued thereon or nearby.

Suggested Question 5: What mechanisms, legal or otherwise, exist to incorporate Indigenous and Maroon participation in decision making, and if there are none, what measures does the Government intend to take to ensure that indigenous peoples and Maroons can participate in and consent to measures that may affect them? Will the Government ensure that measures are taken to ensure that Indigenous peoples and Maroons participate in decision making concerning the granting of concessions on or near their lands and territories?

d.    Neither bi-lingual or bi-cultural education are available for Indigenous children in Suriname. This places these children at a substantial disadvantage to their non-Indigenous peers and has the effect of substantially undermining Indigenous cultural identity and continuity.

Suggested Question 6: What measures has the Government taken or intends to take to ensure that Indigenous and Maroon children can receive bi-lingual and bi-cultural education? Is there any provision at the legal or policy level to account for these issues?

e.    Indigenous and Maroon peoples suffer from discrimination that is particularly pervasive in connection with land rights, education and health. Disparities between the quantity and quality of health and education services in the interior vis-à-vis the coast cannot be justified nor can this disparity be explained by incremental implementation considerations. Simply stated Indigenous and Maroon peoples receive less and worse services than their coastal counterparts without valid reason. In some cases, Indigenous and Maroon children receive no services at all.

Suggested Question 7: Please explain the disparity between the level of health and education services on the coast and in the interior? What measures are in effect or planned to remedy this disparity?

II.    The Forest Peoples Programme

2.             The Forest Peoples Programme is an international NGO, founded in 1990 and registered as a Stichting in the Netherlands with its main office in the United Kingdom, which supports the rights of forests peoples. The organisation provides policy advice and training to indigenous peoples and other forest peoples at local, national and international levels for them to secure and sustainably manage their forests, lands and livelihoods. It exists to support the response of forest peoples to the global forest crisis. It aims to secure the rights of peoples, who live in the forests and depend on them for their livelihoods, to control their lands and destinies. The Programme has five main goals:

·         to support an effective global movement of forest peoples.

·         to promote coordinated action on forests by NGOs of North and South in line with forest peoples' visions and concerns.

·         to promote the rights and interests of forest peoples in international forest policy and human rights fora.

·         to support genuine, community-based, sustainable forest management.

·         to counter top-down planning and official solutions to the deforestation crisis, which deny local people a decisive voice about resources use in their areas.

3.             The Programme has had an extensive field programme in Suriname since 1996 and presently employs two persons to support Indigenous and Tribal peoples in that country, one of whom is of Maroon descent and based in-country on a full-time basis. The Programme has produced numerous publications relating to the situation in Suriname, the most comprehensive of which is entitled ‘The Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Maroons in Suriname’ published by the International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs, Doc. No. 96. (1999). [1]

III.  Indigenous Peoples and Maroons in Suriname - Basic Information

4.             Indigenous peoples comprise approximately 3-5 percent of the Surinamese population – approximately 25,000 persons - organized as four distinct peoples: Kalina (Caribs), Lokono (Arawaks), Trio and Wayana. In total there are around 35 Indigenous villages in Suriname, some of them on the coast and some deep in the interior of the country. Suriname’s rainforests, savannahs and coastal forests have sustained them since time immemorial and for the most part remain their most important source of subsistence resources.

5.             Suriname is also home to non-indigenous Tribal peoples known as Maroons. They are organized as six peoples: Saramaka, N’djuka (or Aucaner), Matawai, Kwinti, Aluku, and Paramaka comprising approximately 60,000 persons (around 15 percent of the total population). Maroons are the descendants of escaped slaves who fought themselves free from slavery and established viable, autonomous communities along the major rivers of Suriname’s rainforest interior in the 17th and 18th centuries and have maintained a distinct culture based primarily upon an amalgamation of African and Amerindian traditions. Their freedom from slavery and rights to lands and territory and the autonomous administration thereof were recognized in treaties concluded with the Dutch colonial government in the 1760s and reaffirmed in further treaties in the 1830s.

6.             Maroons consider themselves and are perceived to be culturally distinct from other sectors of Surinamese society and regulate themselves according to their own laws and customs. [2] As such, they qualify as Tribal peoples according to international definitional criteria and for the most part enjoy the same rights as Indigenous peoples under international law. [3] Maroons also constitute minorities for the purposes of article 27 of the Covenant and peoples under article 1.

IV.   Human Rights Situation of Indigenous Peoples and Maroons in Suriname – General Overview

7.             Indigenous peoples and Maroons, especially women and children, fall at the bottom of all economic indices and are the most disadvantaged and impoverished sectors of Surinamese society. Indigenous peoples and Maroons receive fewer services than non-Indigenous and Maroon persons, both quantitatively and qualitatively.

8.             In the past 10 years the state has authorized numerous resource exploitation operations in Indigenous and Maroon territories, both small-scale and large, both foreign and domestic, that have had and continue to have a substantially negative impact upon the environment, health, resource base and quality of life of Indigenous peoples and Maroons. These operations are not monitored or controlled in any meaningful way and concessions are routinely granted without informing, consulting with or seeking their agreement. Indigenous and Maroon women and children disproportionately suffer the negative effects of these activities.

9.             Indigenous peoples’ and Maroons’ rights, pursuant to articles 1 and 27, are not recognized in anyway under Surinamese law. This is especially the case for land and resource rights, which are directly and inextricably linked to the right to enjoy culture guaranteed under article 27 as well as the rights guaranteed under article 1.

10.         Surinamese law also does not provide any mechanism nor recognise any right of Indigenous peoples and Maroons to be consulted about and participate in decisions that may affect them. Concessions for mining and logging are routinely issued without informing communities even if they are in the middle of concessions. Suriname has no environmental laws that regulate or control the environmental impact of mining, logging or other resource exploitation activities. Logging concessions presently encompass around 40 percent of the country and include some 60 percent of Indigenous and Maroon communities; mining concessions encompass approximately 30 percent of the country and affect anywhere up to 40 percent of the communities. This only accounts for legal activities.

11.         There are an estimated 15-40,000 Brazilian small-scale miners operating in Suriname under license from the Government and many thousands of local small-scale miners. It was estimated that for the years 1998 and 1999 some 40 tonnes of mercury were released into the environment, much of it inhabited by Indigenous peoples and Maroons. Many communities report that their rivers and other water sources are unfit for human consumption – some communities even have to import water from the capital city – and that they catch fish with tumors and soapy white eyes. Fish is a prime source of protein for the communities. Use of water causes vomiting, diarrhea and skin rashes. According to the World Health Organisation, poor water quality has lead to an increase in mortality rates due to diarrhoeal diseases. The State’s only response to-date has been to issue a health advisory warning pregnant women not to consume fish caught in the rivers.

12.         Malaria has reached epidemic proportions in many parts of the interior. Some 25 percent of the 10,000 diagnosed cases of malaria identified in the interior in 1999, were in children under the age of 5, the vast majority of whom were Indigenous and Maroon children. Malaria has a debilitating effect on the agricultural cycle, leaving many, especially the young, without adequate food. This is also makes them more susceptible to further infections and lengthens recovery periods.

13.         The effects of this activity and the failure of the Government to recognise and respect Indigenous and Maroon land rights are substantially negative. Indigenous subsistence activities are substantially threatened in some areas, in others they are no longer possible. Agricultural areas are damaged and destroyed by small-scale and multinational operators alike with impunity. For example, on 20 May 2001, the Philadelphia Inquirer, a US newspaper, published an article on the activities of logging companies in Suriname with particular reference to the situation of Saramaka Maroons (see Annex C for the full article). This report states in pertinent part that:

This was all too clear [environmental degradation] walking through the Jin Lin concession. The company had plowed large, muddy roads about 45 feet wide into the forest, churned up huge piles of earth, and created fetid pools of green and brown water. Upended and broken trees were everywhere and what were once plots of sweet potatoes, peanuts, ginger, cassava, palm and banana crops - planted in the forest by Maroon villagers - were muddy pits.

14.         Malnutrition among once self-sufficient communities is common. The children, especially the very young, suffer the most and it is highly probable that in some areas their normal physical, intellectual and emotional development is affected. Mercury contamination, which has never been assessed and is not controlled in anyway, is a major health hazard.

15.         Indigenous and Maroon cultures are based in large part on a detailed and extensive relationship with the total environment of their lands. In many areas of Suriname they can no longer enjoy this relationship. An integral part of their children’s education and socialization is based upon experiencing the natural world and learning agriculture and other subsistence practices from their parents. If the parents are unable to hunt, fish, gather and farm, the children cannot learn how to sustain themselves, lose an integral part of their cultural heritage and eventually become dependent on outside foodstuffs.

V.    Articles 1 and 27 - Indigenous and Maroon land, resource and subsistence rights and the right to enjoy culture and use their language.

A.     The Jurisprudence of the Committee under Article 27

16.         The jurisprudence of the Committee on the rights of Indigenous peoples under article 27 is considerable. Article 27 protects linguistic, cultural and religious rights and, in the case of Indigenous peoples, includes, among others, land and resource, subsistence and participation rights. [4]

17.         The Committee has interpreted article 27 to include the “rights of persons, in community with others, to engage in economic and social activities which are part of the culture of the community to which they belong.” In reaching this conclusion, it recognized that Indigenous peoples’ subsistence and other traditional economic activities are an integral part of their culture, and substantial interference with those activities can be detrimental to their cultural integrity and survival. By necessity, the land, resource base and the environment thereof also require protection if subsistence activities are to be safeguarded.

18.         Many of the cases brought by Indigenous peoples under article 27 challenge state- or corporate-directed resource exploitation. In this context, the Committee has observed that a state’s freedom to encourage economic development is limited by the obligations it has assumed under article 27. [5] An activity that amounts to a denial of the right to enjoy culture, for Indigenous peoples this includes land, subsistence and other rights, is prohibited under article 27. Such activities include forcible relocation, severe environmental degradation and denial of access to subsistence areas and areas of cultural and religious significance. In its 1999 Concluding Observations on Chile, for instance, the HRC stated that

The Committee takes note of the various legislative and administrative measures taken to respect and ensure the rights of persons belonging to indigenous communities in Chile to enjoy their own culture. Nevertheless, the Committee is concerned by hydroelectric and other development projects that might affect the way of life and the rights of persons belonging to the Mapuche and other indigenous communities. Relocation and compensation may not be appropriate in order to comply with article 27 of the Covenant. Therefore: When planning actions that affect members of indigenous communities, the State party must pay primary attention to the sustainability of the indigenous culture and way of life and to the participation of members of indigenous communities in decisions that affect them. [6] (emphasis added) 

19.         In a 1994 General Comment (No.23), the Committee further elaborated upon the scope of, and state obligations under, article 27 by stating that

one or other aspects of the rights of individuals protected [under Art. 27] - for example to enjoy a particular culture - may consist in a way of life which is closely associated with a territory and its use of resources. This may particularly be true of members of indigenous communities constituting a minority . . . . With regard to the exercise of the cultural rights protected under Article 27, the committee observes that culture manifests itself in many forms, including a particular way of life associated with the use of land resources, specifically in the case of indigenous peoples. That right may include such traditional activities as fishing or hunting and the right to live in reserves protected by law. The enjoyment of those rights may require positive legal measures of protection and measures to ensure the effective participation of members of minority communities in decisions which affect them . . . . The Committee concludes that article 27 relates to rights whose protection imposes specific obligations on States parties. The protection of these rights is directed to ensure the survival and continued development of the cultural, religious and social identity of the minorities concerned, thus enriching the fabric of society as a whole…. [7]

20.         Further, in July 2000, the Committee added that article 27 requires that “necessary steps should be taken to restore and protect the titles and interests of indigenous persons in their native lands …” and that “securing continuation and sustainability of traditional forms of economy of indigenous minorities (hunting, fishing and gathering), and protection of sites of religious or cultural significance for such minorities … must be protected under article 27….” [8]  

B.      Article 1

21.         The Committee has confirmed on a number of occasions that Indigenous peoples’ rights are protected under article 1 of the Covenant and that states are obligated to respect those rights. [9] In its Concluding Observations on Canada’s Fourth Periodic report, for instance, the it stated that

With reference to the conclusion by the [Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples] that without a greater share of lands and resources institutions of aboriginal self-government will fail, the Committee emphasizes that the right to self-determination requires, inter alia, that all peoples must be able to freely dispose of their natural wealth and resources and that they may not be deprived of their own means of subsistence (article 1(2)). The Committee recommends that decisive and urgent action be taken towards the full implementation of the RCAP recommendations on land and resource allocation. The Committee also recommends that the practice of extinguishing inherent aboriginal rights be abandoned as incompatible with article 1 of the Covenant. [10]

22.         The Committee reached similar conclusions – that the State implement and respect the right of Indigenous peoples to self-determination, particularly in connection with their traditional lands – in its Concluding Observations on the reports of Mexico and Norway issued in 1999 and Australia in 2000. [11] In its complaints-based jurisprudence, the Committee has also related the right to self-determination to the right of Indigenous people to enjoy their culture under article 27. [12] The Committee’s 1984 General Recommendation on self-determination also illustrates that article 1 applies to peoples within existing states. Therein the Committee stated that Article 1(3) “imposes specific obligations on States parties, not only in relation to their own peoples but vis-à-vis all peoples which have not been able to exercise or have been deprived of the possibility of exercising their right to self-determination” (emphasis added). [13]

C.      The situation in Suriname – Land and Resource Rights

23.         Under Surinamese law, Indigenous and Maroon rights to own, use and peacefully enjoy their lands are not recognized in law nor respected in practice. That this is the case is confirmed by the statement of the Surinamese delegation during the hearing of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in 1995:

Land rights represented a major problem, which was currently under discussion. The people who lived in the interior had always claimed rights over the land where they lived, but those claims had had no formal basis in law. The Government had, however, recognized, and was implementing, such claims as part of the peace process. A report would shortly be issued containing an inventory of the land in question and detailing the claims that had been made. [14]

The report referred to here was never completed and, over 10 years after it was concluded, the Peace Accord’s provisions pertaining to land rights have not been implemented (see below). [15] That said there are many Indigenous peoples and Maroons who consider the Peace Accord’s provisions on land rights inadequate and contrary to their rights and cultural traditions. They would prefer that it not be implemented at all.

24.         Article 41 of Suriname’s 1987 Constitution declares that the state owns all natural resources and has the inalienable to right to exploit or authorize others to exploit those resources. Article 1 of the 1982 Decree Principles of Land Policy, Suriname’s primary land legislation, provides that, “all land to which others have not proven ownership rights, belongs to the domain of the State.” In Suriname, ‘ownership rights’ belong only to those who can show a title issued by the state. Article 4 adds that

1.    In allocating domainland, the entitlements of the tribal Bushnegroes [Maroons] and Indians to their villages, settlements and forest plots will be respected, provided that this is not contrary to the general interest;

2.    General interests includes the execution of any project within the framework of an approved development plan.

This exception related to the general interest is so broad that Indigenous and Maroon rights, described as entitlements, will always be superceded by any action that the State deems in the public interest or any project included in a development plan. The effect is to substantially limit the rights of Indigenous peoples and Maroon to the point that they become essentially meaningless. This is particularly evident when these rights conflict with logging, mining and other resource exploitation activities as these are all done pursuant to general objectives set out in the State’s development plan. Additionally, according to the Explanatory Note issued with the 1982 Decree, “Of course, this principle [respecting the rights of hinterland dwellers] will have to be applied during a - possibly long - transitional period in which the forest population will be gradually incorporated into the total socio-economic life….”

25.         In sum:

·        Surinamese law provides that the state is the owner of all land and all resources on and under the land. The only exception applies to those who can show valid title issued by the state;

·        In Suriname, state ownership is interpreted to mean that the state is private, rather than public owner, which is why the only form of title presently available is a up-to 40 year lease of land (grondhuur), with the state as landlord;

·        Indigenous peoples and Maroons have certain entitlements to their villages and current agricultural plots, provided there is no conflict with the general interest; [16]

·        ‘General interest’ means any plan or project that the government includes in a development plan and certainly includes all of the resource extraction operations presently taking place;

·        Also, Indigenous and Maroon entitlements are only valid during a ‘transitional period’ during which they will be assimilated in “the total socio-economic life….

26.         In 1992, at the conclusion of the Interior War, the Government and the leaders of Indigenous and Maroon concluded an agreement known as the Peace Accord of Lelydorp. [17] Article 10 of the Accord reads:

1.    The government shall endeavor that legal mechanisms be created, under which citizens who live and reside in a tribal setting will be able to secure a real title to land requested by them in their areas of residence [woongebieden].

2.    The demarcation and size of the respective residential areas, referred to in the first paragraph, shall be determined on the basis of a study carried out with respect thereto by the Council for the Development of the Interior.

3.    The traditional authorities of the citizens living in tribes or a body appointed thereto by them, will indicate a procedure on the basis of which individual members of a community can be considered for real title to a plot of land in the area referred to in paragraph 2.

4.    Around the area mentioned in paragraph 2, the Government will establish an economic zone where the communities and citizens living in tribes can perform economic activities, including forestry, small-scale mining, hunting and fishing.

27.         Article 11 of the Accord states that the Government will commence a national discussion on ILO 169 and the desirability of ratification.

28.         Since 1992 neither article has been implemented. Moreover, the underlying principles contained in article 10 are contrary to international human rights standards, which recoginse, at a minimum, that Indigenous peoples have the right to own the lands that they occupy and to guaranteed and unhindered use of other lands used for subsistence and other purposes. Article 10 merely proposes that Indigenous peoples will receive leases of state lands with areas demarcated around them for subsistence purposes. Additionally, the leased and use lands remain subject to the overriding power of the national or general interest and state ownership of all natural resources as set out in article 41 of the Constitution and legislation..

29.         On April 1, 2000, the Government and some Indigenous and Maroons leaders concluded an agreement, known as the Buskondre Dey Protocol. [18] Characterized as a Framework Orientation Agreement, the Protocol contains three primary principles: 1) the collective rights of Indigenous peoples and Maroons are recognized – the scope and nature of these rights is not elaborated upon; 2) these rights are subject to national development initiatives and the general interest and will always be defer thereto, and; 3) a fund shall be created in which certain funds derived from resource exploitation will be lodged to finance development activities in the interior.

30.         The two largest Maroon peoples rejected the Protocol as have many Indigenous leaders. Indeed, there was no consultation with the majority of Indigenous and Tribal people on the content of the Protocol, only certain leaders were invited to attend the discussions. As with the Lelydorp Accord, this Protocol does not comply with international human rights standards, particularly given the extreme and arbitrary power of the state to override Indigenous and Maroon rights at will in the name of the national interest. There is also no provision made for the participation of Indigenous and Maroon peoples in decision-making in general, as related to determining what is in the national interest or more specifically as related to granting concessions for resource exploitation.

31.         The Protocol was enacted as a Presidential Decree in 2001, but has yet to be further developed by the present government. Moreover, Presidential Decrees are hierarchically inferior to statutes and Constitutional provisions thereby rendering much of the substance of the Decree null and void insofar as it conflicts (which it does) with higher law.

32.         At present, and consistent with Surinamese law as set out above, not one Indigenous or Maroon community or people hold title to their lands traditionally occupied and used. Concessions for logging and mining are issued without reference to the Indigenous and Maroons communities located in the area, without regard for their rights under articles 1 and 27, without notification or consultation (or any semblance of due process), without compensation and without any environmental guarantees. The same is also true for the establishment of nature reserves, which have expropriated large areas of Indigenous and Maroon lands.

33.         No provision has been made in Surinamese law to guarantee the subsistence rights of Indigenous peoples and Maroons nor to ensure that they may freely dispose of their natural wealth. These rights are routinely violated in practice, especially in connection with resource exploitation.

34.         Additionally, the Maroon community of Nieuw Koffiekamp is facing forcible relocation for the second time on 40 years to make way for a large-scale gold mine operated by a Canadian company. [19] The Indigenous communities of Apura and Washabo in West Suriname have also been informed that they will be relocated due to plans to expand bauxite mining to their lands. As many as four other Indigenous communities may face the same due to bauxite mining. The prior experience of N’djuka Maroon communities with bauxite mining in East Suriname demonstrates that the Indigenous communities noted above will suffer serious and negative consequences (see, Annex B).

35.         Saramaka Maroon have sought the assistance of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to address the failure of the state to recognize and guarantee their land and resource rights and active violation of those rights caused by state grants of logging and mining concessions within their territory. This case, filed in October 2000, is presently pending a decision on admissibility. [20] Thus far the state has not responded in any way to the allegations made therein despite repeated requests from the Inter-American Commission. Nor has the state responded to a petition filed with the Inter-American Commission by the relatives of more than 50 N’djuka Maroons massacred by the Suriname Army in 1986. This case was declared admissible by the Commission in 2000. [21]

D.      Linguistic Rights

36.         Education in Suriname is entirely conducted in Dutch and based upon a standardized curriculum. This places Indigenous children at a substantial disadvantage to non-Indigenous children as they are forced to attend school conducted in a language they do not know and to use materials that are far removed from everyday life and bear little resemblance to their cultural traditions and cosmologies. This bias towards Dutch and coastal culture is substantially contributing to cultural alienation and the loss of Indigenous languages in Suriname. There are also schools in some Indigenous and Maroon villages run by missionaries, who denigrate Indigenous and Maroon cultures and ways of life and force children to reject their cultural heritage.

37.         The preceding is not only contrary to article 27 but also raises issues under articles 1 and 26 of the Covenant, as does the emphasis that Surinamese law and policy places on assimilating Indigenous peoples and Maroons.

VI.   Article 26 – Non-Discrimination

38.         Some of the forms of discrimination faced by Indigenous peoples and Maroons have been noted above. In particular, discrimination based on the failure to recognise Indigenous and Maroon forms of land tenure as property rights and the failure to establish bilingual and bi-cultural education in Indigenous and Maroon areas, when bi-cultural education is a reality for many other Surinamese.

39.         There are a number of Indigenous villages without schools – the Wayana community of Kawemhakan, for instance, sends its children to school in French Guiana as they have no school in the village and have not had one for a number of years. Despite repeated requests to the government, they still do not have a school. Almost every school in the interior receives less materials than schools on the coast. Salaries, training and qualifications for teachers to work in the interior are substantially lower for interior schools in comparison to coastal schools.

40.         These differences are clearly reflected in drop out, graduation and attendance rates for interior versus coastal schools. For instance, passage of entrance exams for secondary school is 18.5% less for interior students and the average number of students repeating a year in the interior (1996/7) was 44% and 61% for first year students compared to 23% for coastal students. [22]

41.         Most of the schools in the Interior are run by the Roman Catholic and Moravian churches. The State pays the teachers’ salaries and an allowance of Sf 26.50 (or US$ 0.05) per student per year for maintenance of the buildings and school materials. The poor financial situation of the churches has slowed reconstruction of the schools destroyed during the Interior war and the level of education provided is of an extremely poor quality that would be unacceptable on the coast and in violation of national standards for coastal schools.

42.         The interior schools not only lack adequate materials, but are mostly understaffed with under qualified teachers. To teach in the Interior, only a special ‘Bushland Diploma’ is required; candidates do not need a secondary school diploma and only a few months of training is required. These lower requirements are partly aimed to attract more teachers to the Interior. Because of the lack of facilities (including adequate schooling for their own children) and low salaries, few teachers in Paramaribo are willing to move to the Interior.

43.         There are no entrance or school fees, but Catholic and Moravian schools require parents to pay an annual contribution per child. Since 1997, this contribution has been raised from Sf125 to Sf3500 (from approximately US$0.30 - 8.75) per child and in 1998, to Sf5000 (US$ 12.50) per child. By contrast, in 1996, State-run schools require only a registration fee of Sf 500 (US$ 1). For people in the Interior who do not have regular incomes, these fees present a substantial obstacle, especially as families in the interior are in general larger than in the city. This stands in stark contrast to the State’s duty to guarantee free primary education in conformity with article 39 of the 1987 Constitution and clearly discriminates against Indigenous and Maroon children.           

44.         On other issues, continuing education after primary school is completely absent from Indigenous and Maroon areas. In order to obtain secondary and higher education, Indigenous and Maroon children (at the age of eleven years) must leave their families and communities, the only places in Suriname where they can practice and enjoy their cultures, to stay in boarding houses in Paramaribo. Many are unable to adjust and drop out. Another reason is that their parent cannot cope with the financial burden which is Sf30.000 (US$30) per child per month excluding personal needs and school materials. Many of these youngsters are unable to re-adjust to village life once they leave these boarding houses and remain in the city. There are secondary schools throughout the non-Indigenous areas of Suriname, yet there is only one in the interior. Indigenous and Maroon children are therefore forced to choose between receiving an education and leaving their families and cultures to stay in an alien environment.

45.         Indigenous and Maroon peoples also suffer discrimination with regard to the provision of health services. Many communities do not have functioning health care facilities. Those that do exist have few, or in some cases no, supplies and are rarely visited by a qualified doctor. While the situation on the coast is far from ideal, the level of health services enjoyed there is far higher than in the interior. Moreover, little has been done to ameliorate the substantial impact on health caused by mining and logging activities in the interior.

VII. Article 2 – Implementation of the Covenant

46.         The failure of the Government of Suriname to enact and implement legislation and other measures to recognise and give effect to the right of Indigenous and Maroon peoples to maintain, practice and enjoy their culture, especially as culture relates to land and resource rights, contravenes article 2 of the Covenant. This article obliges states parties to give effect to the rights recognized in the Covenant through legislative, administrative and other measures. The absence of such legislation denies Indigenous peoples and Maroons access to domestic remedies required to enforce their rights in contravention of other rights set forth in the Covenant. This is itself a serious human rights issue as the rule of law and access to judicial and other remedies are keystones of human rights.

VIII.    Concluding Remarks and Suggested Questions

47.         The rights of Indigenous and Maroon peoples in Suriname to practice, enjoy and maintain their cultures, to be secure in their means of subsistence, to freely dispose of their natural wealth and to participate in decisions affecting them, as provided for in articles 1 and 27, are neither recognized nor respected at present in Suriname. This is especially true when it comes to land and resource rights. Indigenous and Maroon culture and identity are fundamentally tied to their relationship with their ancestral lands, territories and resources. Without strong, effective and enforceable rights to these lands, territories and resources, their cultural integrity is seriously undermined and denied.

Suggested Question 1: What has the government of Suriname done to give effect to the rights of Indigenous and Maroon peoples as defined by articles 1 and 27?In particular, what legislative, administrative or other measure have been taken to identify, demarcate and title Indigenous and Maroon lands and territories traditionally occupied and used?

Suggested Question 2: Given that land and resource rights are fundamentally related to the right of Indigenous and Maroon peoples to enjoy their culture, to be secure in their means of subsistence and to freely dispose of their natural wealth and resources, what measures exist or are planned to address this issue?

48.         The expansion of resource exploitation operations in the interior has seriously threatened and undermined Indigenous peoples and Maroons’ resource base, on which they depend for their basic subsistence needs. Their right to a healthy environment is also routinely violated.

Suggested Question 3: Given the increase in logging and mining activities in the interior of Suriname in recent years, can you explain what the Government has done to ensure that these activities do not compromise the rights of Indigenous and Maroon peoples to exercise and enjoy their rights under articles 1 and 27?

Suggested Question 4: How does the Government propose to address the rights of Indigenous and Maroon peoples to a healthy environment in which they can enjoy their culture and other rights?

49.         There is no mechanism in Surinamese law to provide for the informed participation and consent of Indigenous peoples in decisions that affect them. This is especially the case concerning decisions about their lands and resources and whether concessions are issued thereon or nearby.

Suggested Question 5: What mechanisms, legal or otherwise, exist to incorporate Indigenous and Maroon participation in decision making, and if there are none, what measures does the Government intend to take to ensure that indigenous peoples and Maroons can participate in and consent to measures that may affect them? Will the Government ensure that measures are taken to ensure that Indigenous peoples and Maroons participate in decision making concerning the granting of concessions on or near their lands and territories?

50.         Neither bi-lingual or bi-cultural education are available for Indigenous amd Maroon children in Suriname. This places these children at a substantial disadvantage to their non-Indigenous peers and has the effect of substantially undermining Indigenous cultural identity and continuity.

Suggested Question 6: What measures has the Government taken or intends to take to ensure that Indigenous children can receive bi-lingual and bi-cultural education? Is there any provision at the legal or policy level to account for these issues?

51.         Indigenous and Maroon peoples suffer from discrimination that is particularly pervasive in connection with land rights, education and health. Disparities between the quantity and quality of health and education services in the interior vis-à-vis the coast cannot be justified nor can this disparity be explained by incremental implementation considerations. Simply stated Indigenous and Maroon peoples receive less and worse services than their coastal counterparts without valid reason. In some cases, Indigenous and Maroon children receive no services at all.

Suggested Question 7: Please explain the disparity between the level of health and education services on the coast and in the interior? What measures are in effect or planned to remedy this disparity?

_____________________________________

 

Annex A - Buskondre Dey Protocol of April 1, 2000

(Original in Dutch)

Protocol of Conclusions of the Deliberations which took place as part of the Buskondre Dey [Bushland Day], which commenced on 18 February 2000, was continued on 19 February 2000, 31 March 2000 And which was concluded on 1 April 2000, between the Government of The Republic of Suriname and The Traditional Leaders of the Maroons and Indigenous Peoples in The Interior of Suriname.

Paramaribo, 18 and 19 February, 31 March and 1 April 2000

Meeting the desire of the Wijdenbosch-Government to finally bring a solution to the problem concerning land rights in the so-called Interior of the Republic of Suriname [which has been dragging on for years], delegations of the Government of the Republic of Suriname and of the traditional authorities of the Maroons and the Indigenous peoples of the interior of Suriname, have held meetings on 18 and 19 February, 31 March and 1 April 2000 in Paramaribo, with the aim of finding a workable solution for the insecure status concerning land rights in the interior and have declared themselves willing to conclude a basic orientation agreement, which focuses on pragmatic and effective co-operation between Government, governmental institutions and aforementioned traditional leadership.

The delegation of the Government is composed as follows:

1.      Drs. J.A. Wijdenbosch, President of the Republic of Suriname;

2.      Drs. E. Alibux, Minister of Natural Resources and Finance;

3.      Drs. S. Moestadja, Minister of Social Affairs, Public Health and Labour;

4.      Mrs. Y. Ravales-Resida, Minister of Regional Development and Justice and Police;

5.      Mr. R. Mangal, Minister of Public Works and Education;

6.      Mr. E. Snijders, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Defense;

7.      Ir. S. Redjosentono, Minister of Agriculture, Husbandry and Fishery;

8.      Mr. D. de Bie, Minister of Transport, Telecommunication and Tourism and PLOS [Planning]

The original delegation of the traditional leadership of the Maroons and Indigenous peoples of the interior of Suriname was composed of Granmans, Head Captains, Captains and Basias and was led by: Matodja Gazon, Granman of the Aucaners, Jan Levi, Granman, Ashongo Alalaparoe, Granman, Tawajapane Anapaike, Head Captain, Lafanti Oscar, Granman, Doea Marius, Head Captain, Asiware Pishede, Head Captain, Anakai Matari, Captain, Aboikoni Songo, Granman, Ricardo Pane, Captain, Ramses Kajoeramari, Captain, Frans Pierre, Captain, Armand Karwafodi, Captain, Ferdinand Mande, Captain, Ronald Karwafodi, Captain, Janapaloe, Captain (for Head Captain Nowahe)

The meetings took place in a very constructive atmosphere of mutual understanding and the conviction of mutual responsibility for finding a harmonious solution. Key issue was the national interest in general with special reference to the specific interest of the hinterland population in particular.

During the meetings, both delegations arrived at the following conclusions:

The Government of the Republic of Suriname and the traditional leadership of the Maroons and Indigenous peoples will put together a policy agreement which will be referred to as a Framework Agreement, which will constitute the basis for a coherent whole of guidelines to which:

1.      The Government will have to adhere in the execution of its constitutional and legal powers, which are derived from its governmental responsibility to safeguard the general interest of the Republic of Suriname;

2.      The traditional authority in the interior of Suriname will have to adhere to the use of the land that meets the national interest as provided for by the Constitution of the Republic of Suriname.

Framework

The framework in which the common decisions between both delegations have to be placed include the following:

1.      The [staatkundige] situation with regard to the territory of Suriname has been changed at different moments in history as a result of [staatkundige] changes;

2.      Since the Independence of Suriname in 1975, the [staatkundige] status of Suriname has been laid down permanently. Since 25 November 1975, Suriname is no longer part of the territory of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, but has obtained the status of an independent Republic. This has had effects for:

a.         the relationship Suriname--Netherlands;

b.        the Surinamese citizens and their nationality;

c.         the position of Suriname with regard to international organisations, regional and other blocks;

d.        the status of the original language;

e.         the structure of the territory of the Republic of Suriname.

These are the elements that often also undergo changes with a change in the [staatkundige] status of a country.

3.      Since the [staatkundige] independence, Suriname is a unitary state (eenheidsstaat) and indivisible;

4.      The Government is responsible for the whole territory of Suriname, which follows from the Constitution of Suriname and has to adhere to all legal provisions that flow from it;

5.      The Government recognises as a starting point the principle of the natural boundaries for the different hinterland areas, as put forward by the spokesman of the Maroons, Mr. Albert Aboikoni, during the meetings and therefore agrees with this point of view.

I. It is agreed:

a.       that the Government of the Republic of Suriname recognises the collective rights of the Maroons and Indigenous peoples;

b.      that the Maroons and Indigenous peoples may freely use an established area, based on the principle of natural boundaries, to be defined later;

c.       that whenever the national economic interest so demands that part of the territory, including the area mentioned under (b) must be used for the national economic development, the Government, using its authority based on its constitutional and legal responsibilities and duties, will issue a decision for such use after consultation with the traditional leadership of the Maroons and Indigenous peoples;

d.      that a fund will be established, whereby a specified percentage of the income of said hinterland economic activities (percentage to be determined later), will flow back to the respective areas or villages or groups of the villages;

e.       that if the general interest demands that an area in the hinterland must be used for the economic development and the procedures for consultation have taken place, it must be considered to what extent possible damages, suffered by individuals or collectivities in the villages in the interior, must be compensated. Compensation must take place before the start of the economic activities. This applies to activities carried out by the Government (possibly in Joint Venture with Multinationals) or by private parties;

f.        that it will be prevented that the people of the interior will be restricted or hindered in any way in their daily lives. Safeguards will have to be provided by the Government.

II. This agreement will be [established] by Presidential Resolution.

[Made in duplicate] and signed in Paramaribo on 1 April 2000.

For the Government                                                               

of the Republic of Suriname

Drs. J.A. Wijdenbosch                                                           

For the delegation of the traditional leaders of the Maroons and Indigenous peoples of the interior of the Republic of Suriname: [signed by: Jan Levi, Ashongo Alalaparoe, Tawajapane Anapaike, Lafanti Oscar, Anakai Matarie, Aboikoni Songo, Ricardo Pane, Ramses Kajoeramari, Japanaloe, Henry Zaalman]

Witnesses:

Drs. W.H. Werner Vreedzaam

Mr. H.R.M. Libretto

_______________________________________________________

Annex B

(Original in Dutch)

Petition to the Suriname Government Concerning the Situation in Adjoemakondre

To:       President, Jules A. Wijdenbosch

            Minister of Natural Resources

            Minister of Justice and Police

17 September 1998

            Pursuant to Article 22 of the 1987 Suriname Constitution, we, the undersigned, hereby submit this petition to the government of Suriname. We seek recognition of and respect for our rights, especially our land rights that are not presently recognised by the state of Suriname and are affected by the mining activities of NV Suralco, a foreign-owned company. This company has destroyed our environment and our ability to feed our families. We also seek compensation for the expropriation of our property and interference with our rights to hunt, fish and farm on our ancestral lands. The preceding, which was authorised by the Government of Suriname, was caused by the operations of Suralco. These operations are on-going and remain a threat to our existence and well-being. To ensure that violations of our rights cease immediately, we request in the strongest possible terms, that the government of Suriname take prompt and decisive action to investigate and remedy these violations of our rights.

            The village of Adjoemakondre is situated in Marowijne District approximately 30 kilometres from Moengo. The village was established by our ancestors over 200 years ago and lies within the ancestral territory of the Aucaner people, represented by Granman Gazon. The village has approximately 400 families as members, although most are non-resident at this time. We make our living mainly by hunting, fishing and farming. Many of us were forced to flee during the interior war, some of us stayed here and some of those who left have returned since the war ended.

            Suralco arrived in our territory in 1991 and began mining operations in the immediate surroundings of our village. At that time, we protested against this and requested that the Government intervened to find a solution. The Government and Suralco then entered into negotiations, which resulted in Suralco promising to relocate the village and provide adequate housing and other facilities for us. Suralco did not honour this promise, stating that their activities were authorised by the Government when it gave them concessions and that it was the Government’s responsibility to relocate and provide for the village. Since that time, negotiations have ceased and we are left with a worse situation than we had in 1991. We have tried to get the Government to do something about our situation, but nothing has happened (see, letters attached to this petition).

            Suralco’s activities have severely impacted upon our rights and well-being. In particular:

·        our agricultural plots and houses have been destroyed, without any compensation;

·        our river has been polluted so badly that we can no longer use it - wastes from the mining operation run down hill through the village into the river, turning it an orange-brown colour;

·        health problems have occurred from villagers using the river water;

·        use of dynamite by the company causes noise pollution and has contributed to the loss of game animals we use for food;

·        destruction of the forest and pollution of the river has also substantially limited our ability to hunt and fish on our lands.

            Suralco’s activities in our territory are on-going. There are three concessions in which Suralco is presently working, one of which is less than 200 metres from our village. As the company refuses to listen to our concerns and as Surinamese law does not recognise our rights to own our ancestral lands and live peaceably thereon, we are without hope unless the Government intervenes immediately to provide a solution to this problem. We note that we have asked the Government of Suriname on more than one occasion to help us, but nothing has happened. We hope that this will not be the case this time.

            The Government must help us if it is to respect our human rights as defined by international human rights treaties. Suriname voluntarily accepted these treaties and committed itself to implement and respect the rights contained therein. Discussing the American Convention on Human Rights in its Ecuador Report, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, for instance, directly relates the right to life to environmental security stating that: “[t]he realisation of the right to life, and to physical security and integrity is necessarily related to and in some ways dependent upon one's physical environment. Accordingly, where environmental contamination and degradation pose a persistent threat to human life and health, the foregoing rights are implicated.”

            This report also recognized that state policy and practice concerning resource exploitation and land use cannot take place in a vacuum that ignores its human rights obligations. In doing so, it related human rights concerns to the regulatory framework and monitoring capacity of the state. Specifically, the Commission stated that it “recognizes that the right to development implies that each state has the freedom to exploit its natural resources, including through the granting of concessions and acceptance of international investment. However, the Commission considers that the absence of regulation, inappropriate regulation, or a lack of supervision in the application of extant norms may create serious problems with respect to the environment which could translate into violations of human rights protected by the American Convention.”

            The same conclusions with regard to the situation at Adjoemakondre must be reached. The activities of Suralco are violating our human rights, both as individuals and as a Tribal people. The Government of Suriname, by authorising the activities of Suralco and by not intervening to protect our rights and provide compensation for violations of these rights, is responsible for these human rights violations. These violations are on-going and will continue until concrete and positive action is taken by the Government.

            We, therefore, respectfully request that the Government immediately suspend the activities of Suralco near the village of Adjoemakondre until:

·        an acceptable solution can be identified - this solution must be identified and agreed upon with the full participation and consent of our village;

·        our land rights are recognised and legally guaranteed in accordance with international human rights standards;

·        compensation is provided to us for all material and immaterial damages that we have suffered as a consequence of Suralco’s activities.

With respect,

Wilma Prika

Captain, Adjoemakondre

_______________________________________________________________

Annex C

Sunday, May 20, 2001

Raiding the Rain Forest

For a global treasure, a new threat: Asian companies in weakly regulated countries tamper with the ecosystem to fill a growing demand for hardwood. First of three parts.

By Mark Jaffe

PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER STAFF WRITER

PARAMARIBO, Suriname - The world's beleaguered tropical rain forests - a band of woodland covering just six percent of the planet but holding two-thirds of its species - face a new threat: Asian commercial logging.

Fueled by a growing economy at home and falling trade barriers abroad, big Asian timber companies have fanned out across the globe.

Here, on South America's eastern coast, trucks piled high with logs come rumbling out of the rain forest almost daily on the first leg of a voyage halfway around the world - to China.

Barely on the scene a decade ago, Chinese and other Asian companies now control 90 percent of the $10 billion tropical timber trade, according to a European Commission study.

This timber scramble threatens forests that are home to life as diverse as the red howler monkey and the korup tree, whose bark some scientists say may provide a drug to fight AIDS.

In the last 50 years, more than half of this habitat - about four billion acres - has been obliterated by subsistence agriculture, mining and development. Now, the commercial loggers are compounding those problems.

"The most dramatic shift in the tropical timber trade has been away from Europe and America and toward Asia," said Harold Wisdom, a professor of forestry at Virginia Polytechnic Institute.

These Asian companies - according to forestry, environmental and economic-development officials - tend to cut more intensively and more rapidly than the European companies that once dominated the trade.

They also have tended to focus on the smaller, more remote countries - such as Suriname or Equatorial Guinea - where regulation is weak and corruption rampant.

Tropical loggers do not clear-cut the forest. They take only the most valuable trees. Still, logging degrades the forest, opens it to hunters and farmers, and contributes to soil erosion and water pollution.

"This has, in a global sense, led to a downward trend in forest management," Wisdom said.

International aid officials also voice concern that one of the most valuable natural resources of these poor nations is being exported without adequate compensation.

"The wood is being exported to Asian factories, and little is left behind," said Giuseppe Topa, a World Bank forestry official.

Eighty percent of all tropical timber exports go to China, including Taiwan, Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia and South Korea, according to the International Tropical Timber Organization.

China and Japan alone account for two-thirds of all tropical wood imports.

And the Asian loggers girdle the globe:

In Liberia, on Africa's west coast, the Oriental Timber Co., a subsidiary of an Indonesian conglomerate, is logging a four-million-acre concession - an area larger than the state of Delaware.

In Equatorial Guinea, the Malaysian timber giant Rimbunan Haijau has boosted annual exports from 100,000 cubic meters of wood to nearly one million in the last decade.

In Cambodia's Kong Province, logging is so widespread that three foreign timber companies control more than half a million acres - 14 percent of the country.

In Belize, an offshore corporation backed by Malaysian interests is logging mahogany on 200,000 acres that includes the land of traditional Maya Indian villages.

Here in Suriname, Indonesian, Malaysian and Chinese companies have all set up operations in the last five years.

The Surinamese government is hoping its forests will lure investment, increase exports, and help boost its faltering economy. It is, however, a gamble - one being played out in Suriname's thick interior forests.

Natives of the forest

The forests here are part of the Guyana Shield - 100 million acres of almost solid tropical woods stretching from Venezuela to Brazil's Amazon.

With more than 1,000 species of trees, 8,000 species of plants, 674 species of birds, and thousands of animals, including jaguars, howler monkeys and giant armadillos, the Guyana Shield is one of the most diverse and complete rain forests left in the world.

The trees reach heights of more than 120 feet, and the green canopy is sprinkled with flowers in yellow and purple.

Flocks of parrots, daubed with bright greens and blues, soar over the treetops, while neon-blue morpho butterflies dance along the river banks.

It is also home to the Maroons - the descendants of slaves who escaped from coastal plantations and fled to the interior more than 300 years ago.

For nearly a century, the Maroons, whose name comes from the Spanish cimarron - "wild" or "savage," - waged a running war with Dutch and English colonists.

The war ended in 1762 with the Sara Creek peace treaty - a blood oath in which each signatory, white colonist and Maroon, cut his arm and shed a few drops of blood into a calabash gourd. The blood was mixed with the earth and forest spring water, and each participant drank from the gourd.

Under the treaty, the Maroons were given the Suriname interior for as long as they stayed there.

And so, the Maroons have depended upon the forest for everything - food, water, building materials, medicine and their spiritual nourishment.

"You cannot live without the forest," explained Ceasar Adjako, the chief or "captain" of Kaayapati - one of the Maroon villages hardest hit by the logging. "The forest is our life. The forest is everything we have. Our houses. Our water. Our food. Our medicine. First comes the forest, then comes God."

So it was a shock when Jin Lin Wood Industries - a Chinese logging company - showed up last fall and bulldozed both trees and villagers' forest plots.

"We were stunned," Adjako said. "None of us knew what to do, what to say."

His niece, Silvi Adjako, complained to the manager of the logging camp, who said that if she filed an official complaint, he would give her 15,000 Suriname guilders - about $6.50 - in compensation.

The manager of the Jin Lin concession, who identified himself as Jackson Wang, said that if locals had complaints, they had to take them to the government.

"We have all the required papers from the government," Wang said.

That wasn't good enough for the Maroons."The government is opening [Maroon] land to foreign loggers and miners without asking us, without consulting us . . . even though we've had a treaty for 200 years," said Ceasar Adjako, a small, wiry 60-year-old who has led Kaayapati for 17 years.

This year, the Maroons filed a petition with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in San Jose, Costa Rica, charging that the logging violates their 239-year-old treaty.

"The blood oath drew upon the power of powerful Saramaka [Maroon] ancestors and African gods and imbued the treaty with a sacred character," the petition states.

Surinamese officials point out that only eight million of the nation's 32 million acres of rain forest will be opened to logging.

Unfortunately for the Saramaka Maroons, the acres being offered to foreign loggers happen to be right where the Maroons live.

"This is a problem," conceded Rene Somopawiro, deputy director of the government's Foundation for Forest Management and Production Control.

"Every time we talk about forest development, this question of indigenous people comes up," Somopawiro said. "And so far we really don't have a good solution."

Inviting the loggers

Suriname became a Dutch colony in the late 17th century as part of a land swap with the English. The Dutch got Suriname, and the English got New Amsterdam and Manhattan.

Since gaining its independence from the Netherlands in 1975, Suriname has had a tumultuous political life.

In 1993, after years of political ferment, which included a military coup and a civil war, the country was desperate for foreign investment.

"Suriname had managed to alienate all the major international agencies and was in terrible economic shape," said Adrian Whitman, a forestry officer with the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization.

Then-president Ronald Venetiaan invited Asian logging companies to bid on concessions, and within a year Chinese, Malaysian and Indonesian companies had proposed five concessions covering nearly 12 million acres or 40 percent of the entire country.

The companies were promising to invest $26 million. Still, the size and number of the bids raised concern both in Suriname and among international environmental organizations, so the brakes were put on logging plans.

Two large companies - Berjaya from Malaysia and MUSA, back by Indonesia interests - did receive concessions totaling about a quarter of a million acres.

Two years ago, a major Chinese operation, Tacoba Forestry Products, also began operations.

Tacoba, according to Forest Monitor - a group based in Cambridge, England, that tracks international corporate timber operations - is in turn owned by Jin Lin, a major Chinese timber company.

Jin Lin has operations and joint ventures with Malaysian and European timber companies and is exploring logging concessions in Cameroon and Guyana, according to Forest Monitor.

Last year, Finestyle, another Chinese company, began logging there.

The Chinese companies are relative newcomers to an international scene that has been dominated by Malaysian, Indonesian and European companies.

The Chinese have been more active abroad since a ban on logging in China was imposed two years ago, after devastating floods on the Yangtze River. And foreign governments have been welcoming.

"If a company wants to come in and invest, provide jobs and is willing to obey the laws, we think they ought to be given a chance," said Somopawiro, of Suriname's Foundation for Forest Management.

Little regulation

At the heart of the dispute in the Suriname interior are the forces of a growing global economy and the $10 billion-a-year international tropical timber trade.

A drop in tariff barriers fostered by the World Trade Organization and easier movement of money around the globe has promoted investment, trade and market demand.

The large Asian timber companies have been able to quickly move hundreds of workers and millions of dollars' worth of equipment around the world.

In many cases they have moved more quickly than government regulators who oversee their activities. This is especially true in poor, tropical countries.

"These corporations prefer to operate in countries where laws regulating the exploitation of forest resources are weak, poorly enforced or nonexistent," said Victor Minotti, director of environmental programs at the International Forum on Globalization, a San Francisco advocacy group.

The push into the forests has been relentless, and the demand for wood is apparently insatiable.

The World Bank estimates that by 2010, annual demand for wood is expected to grow by nearly 25 percent, to 1.8 billion cubic meters.

After years of insisting that subsistence agriculture was the main cause of tropical forest loss, the World Bank reported that international logging has become "a much greater factor" in the problem.

In some cases, the revenues of the companies eclipse the resources of the countries in which they operate.

Shimmer International, a subsidiary of the Malaysian timber giant Rimbunan Haijau, has a major logging concession in Africa's Equatorial Guinea.

Rimbunan's annual revenues are estimated at $1 billion by the South China Morning Post. Equatorial Guinea's 1999 gross domestic product was $960 million.

"The result is these companies are laws unto themselves," said Filip Verbelen, head of Greenpeace International's tropical-forest campaign based in Brussels, Belgium.

Barney Chan, general manager of the Sarawak Timber Association, which represents some of the big logging operators including Rimbunan, said his members were improving the forestry and environmental parts of their operations.

"The big timber companies in Sarawak are adopting more realistic production programs and are now seriously looking at how to do sustainable forest management," Chan said.

'Selective cutting'

The Suriname government and the foreign timber companies here say they too want the forest to be a lasting resource.

Jin Lin's Wang said his company was obeying the rules, doing "selective cutting under commercial specifications." He also noted that his company had invested in a new saw mill and was hiring local people.

The environmental group Conservation International estimates that although perhaps only 10 percent of the trees are cut, 20 percent to 30 percent more of the forest is chewed up by roads and other logging activities.

This was all too clear walking through the Jin Lin concession. The company had plowed large, muddy roads about 45 feet wide into the forest, churned up huge piles of earth, and created fetid pools of green and brown water.

Upended and broken trees were everywhere and what were once plots of sweet potatoes, peanuts, ginger, cassava, palm and banana crops - planted in the forest by Maroon villagers - were muddy pits.

As for the government oversight, Suriname's forest foundation was created two years ago with Dutch aid to better promote and monitor logging activity.

The foundation has upgraded the planning and permitting process, and this summer the newly elected president - Ronald Venetiaan, the same president who invited the Asians to Suriname in 1993 - raised the taxes on gasoline in part to better finance forest management and regulation.

Still, the forest foundation doesn't have enough inspectors to check the 245 logging concessions on 4.7 million acres.

"We won't be able to inspect every concession, but if we do the big ones, we will have some impact," Somopawiro said.

But they will be playing catch up. In the last four years, the area allocated to logging in Suriname has grown 41 percent, "largely due to expansive concessions granted to foreign investors," according to an Inter-American Development Bank study.

In Kaayapati Village, the change has clearly been felt.

"It used to be that we cut the timber we needed and then a little to sell," Ceasar Adjako said. "But now there's the pressure from the city, from the Chinese."

"You have to cut when and what the log traders want. If you don't, you don't get a contract," he said. "The only thing limiting the cutting is manpower and machines. If it was possible to take all the wood in one swoop, they'd take it."

[1] Kambel, E-R., & F. MacKay, 1999. The Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Maroons in Suriname. International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs, Doc. No. 96. Copenhagen.

[2] Inter-American Court on Human Rights, Aloeboetoe et al. Case. Reparations (Art. 63(1) of the American Convention on Human Rights), Judgment of September 10, 1993. (“In this regard, the evidence introduced shows that . . . the members of the tribe . . . are governed by their own norms. ... Moreover, any disputes that arise on this subject are not submitted by the Saramacas to the government courts, and the intervention of the courts in the affairs of the Saramacas with respect to the subjects mentioned is virtually nonexistent. It should also be noted that, in the present case, Suriname recognized the existence of a customary law for the Saramacas.” (para. 58)). See, also, inter alia, E-R. Kambel & F. MacKay, The Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Maroons in Suriname, IWGIA Doc. 96, Copenhagen (1999), at 66-70.

[3] See, Proposed American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, approved by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights at its 1333rd sess. on Feb. 26, 1997. In, OEA/Ser.L/V/II.95.doc.7, rev. 1997, at 654-676, art. 1(2): - “This Declaration applies to indigenous peoples as well as peoples whose social, cultural and economic conditions distinguish them from other sections of national community, and whose status is regulated wholly or partially by their own customs or traditions or by special laws or regulations” - International Labour Organization Convention No. 169 Concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries 1989, Article 1- “This Convention applies to: (a) tribal peoples in independent countries whose social, cultural and economic conditions distinguish them from other sections of the national community and whose status is regulated wholly or partially by their own customs or traditions or by special laws or regulations;” and, World Bank Operational Directive 4.20 on Indigenous Peoples (1991).

[4] Bernard Ominayak, Chief of the Lubicon Lake Band vs. Canada, Report of the Human Rights Committee, 45 UN GAOR Supp. (No.43), UN Doc. A/45/40 , vol. 2 (1990), 1. See also, Kitok vs. Sweden, Report of the Human Rights Committee, 43 UN GAOR Supp. (No.40) UN Doc. A/43/40; Lovelace vs. Canada (No. 24/1977), Report of the Human Rights Committee, 36 UN GAOR Supp. (No. 40) 166, UN Doc. A/36/40 (1981). I. Lansman et al. vs. Finland (Communication No. 511/1992), UN Doc. CCPR/C/52/D/511/1992; and, Jouni Lansman et al. vs. Finland (Communication No. 671/1995), UN Doc. CCPR/C/58/D/671/1995. Although not decided under article 27, see, also, Hopu & Bessert v. France. Communication No. 549/1993: France. 29/12/97. UN Doc. CCPR/C/60/D/549/1993/Rev.1, 29 December 1997.

[5] I. Lansman et al. vs. Finland (Communication No. 511/1992), CCPR/C/52/D/511/1992, 10.

[6] Concluding observations of the Human Rights Committee : Chile. 30/03/99. CCPR/C/79/Add.104. (Concluding Observations/Comments) CCPR/C/79/Add.104, 30 March 1999, at para. 22

[7] General Comment No. 23 (50) (art. 27), adopted by the Human Rights Committee at its 1314th meeting (fiftieth session), 6 April 1994. UN Doc. CCPR/C/21/Rev.1/Add.5. (1994), at 3.

[8] Concluding observations of the Human Rights Committee: Australia. 28/07/2000. CCPR/CO/69/AUS. (Concluding Observations/Comments), at paras. 10 and 11.

[9] The UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations and the UN Sub-Commission on the Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities (as it was then called) have also endorsed application of the right to Indigenous peoples when approving the UN draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 1993 and 1995, respectively. Article 3 of the draft Declaration provides that, “Indigenous peoples have the right to self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely determine their economic, social and cultural development.” The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights recognized some measure of this right in its Proposed American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (1997), art. XV(1): “States acknowledge that indigenous peoples have the right to freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development, and that accordingly they have the right to autonomy and self-government with regard to their internal and local affairs, including culture, religion, education, information, media, health, housing, employment, social welfare, economic activities, land and resources management, the environment and entry by non-members; and to the ways and means for financing these autonomous functions.”

[10] Concluding observations of the Human Rights Committee: Canada. 07/04/99, at para. 8. UN Doc. CCPR/C/79/Add.105. (Concluding Observations/Comments) (1999).

[11] Concluding observations of the Human Rights Committee: Mexico. UN Doc. CCPR/C/79/Add.109 (1999), para. 19; Concluding observations of the Human Rights Committee: Norway. UN Doc. CCPR/C/79/Add.112 (1999), paras. 10 and 17; and Concluding observations of the Human Rights Committee: Australia. 28/07/2000. CCPR/CO/69/AUS. (Concluding Observations/Comments), para. 9.

[12] Apirana Mahuika et al. vs. New Zealand (Communication No. 547/1993, 15/11/2000)), UN Doc. CCPR/C/70/D/547/1993 (2000), at para. 9.2.

[13] Human Rights Committee, The right to self-determination of peoples (Art. 1) : 13/04/84. CCPR General comment 12, 1984, at para. 6.

[14] Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Twelfth session. Summary Record of the 20th Meeting, Friday, 12 May 1995. UN Doc. E/C.12/1995/SR.20, 18 May 1995, at para. 38.

[15] Two Commissions have been established by the State, both of which became defunct without result. The first, the Redan Commission, ceased to function without any report in 1995. The most recent, the State Lands Commission, was established in November 1996. It formulated the question to be investigated as: “Do the Indigenous peoples and Maroons have a real right [right in rem] to the land on which they have lived for centuries and if so, which right?” Its three page interim and only report concluded that:

(1) a proper preparation of its task would require meetings in the interior;

(2) that Indigenous peoples and Maroons have different concepts regarding land rights;

(3) that interior inhabitants are aware of the advantage of a real title;

(4) that the government must come up with a proposal for the creation of development poles (concentrations of villages) along roads, and that the lack of funds and appropriate legislation were major obstacles to overcome and that three months were not enough to carry out its task.

See, E-R. Kambel & F. MacKay, The Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Maroons in Suriname, IWGIA Doc. 96, Copenhagen, 1999, at 124.

[16] Indigenous peoples and Maroons practice shifting agriculture which requires that agricultural plots be rotated every 3-4 years././.

[17] The Peace Accord (officially called the Lelydorp Accord) concluded a devastating six year long civil war (1986-1992) that pitted Maroon and Indigenous insurgents against each other and the military dictatorship of the 1980s.

[18] The text of the Buskondre Dey Protocol is annexed hereto in Annex A.

[19] See, OAS/UPD, Natural Resources, Foreign Concessions and Land Rights: A Report on the Village of Nieuw Koffiekamp. Unit for Promotion of Democracy, General Secretariat, Organization of American States, Washington D.C., 1997.

[20] Case 12.338 (12 Saramaka Los), Suriname. Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

[21] Case 11.281 (Village of Moiwana), Suriname. Report 26/00 on Admissibility. Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

[22] Krisnadath, I., & Verwey-Deley, H., The Language Problem in Education. A study in the use of the mother tongue in education among Saramaka and Aucaner children in the Interior of Suriname. UNICEF, Paramaribo, 1999.