Dutch citizen detained in Suriname war crimes case


A Netherlands court on Feb. 7 set aside a bid for amnesty and ruled to continue pre-trial detention of a Dutch ex-army member suspected of war crimes, including the murder of civilians, during Suriname’s internal war. The 55-year-old Suriname-born Dutchman was arrested in Amsterdam in October 2021 on the basis of an investigation indicating that he murdered several Surinamese civilians in 1987 in the area of Brownsweg, Brokopondo district.

The Surinamese Interior War was a conflict waged in the inland rainforest of the South American nation and former Dutch colony between 1986 and 1992. During the war, the Surinamese National Army fought the Jungle Commando guerillas, killing hundreds of civilians and displacing thousands. The Jungle Commando won a base of support among the interior’s Maroon population, giving an ethnic cast to the conflict.

The suspect, who was not named, is accused of violating Article 8 of the Criminal Law in Wartime Act for the killing of people not partaking or no longer partaking in combat. The Netherlands’ Public Prosecution Service believes he was a member of the infantry of the National Army of Suriname during the war, and told others that he killed several people in June 1987.

Initially, the suspect’s lawyer invoked amnesty under terms of Surinamese law. This was rejected by the court on the basis that in exceptional cases, Dutch courts can overrule foreign amnesty provisions. The court determined that this case fell under the exception, due to the severity of the crimes involved.

From Jurist, Feb. 8. Used with permission.

Map: University of Texas