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Suriname: UN expert calls for further dialogue on indigenous and tribal land issues

PARAMARIBO (17 March 2011) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, James Anaya, called for further contact between the authorities and the indigenous and tribal peoples of Surinam, and reiterated his readiness to assist with efforts to advance their land and resource rights.

“I look forward to continued dialogue with the Government and with the indigenous and tribal peoples of Suriname, in order to provide further guidance on the practical steps necessary to move forward with securing indigenous and tribal land rights, in accordance with relevant international treaties to which Suriname is a part,” Mr. Anaya said at the end of the first visit ever to the country by a human rights independent expert designated by the UN Human Rights Council.

The Special Rapporteur’s mission from 13-16 March took place in the context of Suriname’s implementation of the 2007 judgment of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in the case of the Saramaka People v. Suriname.

“I believe that this visit was very fruitful and constituted unique and valuable opportunity for dialogue and consultation with indigenous and tribal peoples of Suriname and the Suriname Government,” Mr. Anaya said. “I congratulate all of them for their cooperation and openness in engaging with my mandate, in order to meet the many challenges existing in the country related to the domestic implementation of international human rights norms.”

During the brief visit, the Special Rapporteur met in Paramaribo with representatives of the Government, including the Vice President; the Ministers of Regional Development; Justice and Police; Foreign Affairs; Natural Resources; Land and Physical Planning; and Labour, Technology and Environment; as well as others from the Council of Ministers.

The UN independent expert also held meetings with the indigenous organization VIDS, and Maroon representatives of VGS, the 12 Okanisi clan, the Matawaí clan, the Paramakan community and the Bureau Moiwana, as well as with the UN Country Team.

The Special Rapporteur expressed his thanks to all those that assisted in preparations for the visit, especially representatives at the Ministry of Regional Development, for their invaluable help in organizing and facilitating all aspects of the visit.

S. James Anaya (USA) is a Regents Professor and the James J. Lenoir Professor of Human Rights Law and Policy at the University of Arizona (United States). He was appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council to the mandate of Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples effective May 2008. The mandate was created in 2001 by the then Commission on Human Rights, and was renewed most recently in 2010 by the Human Rights Council for a three-year period.

Learn more about the mandate and work of the Special Rapporteur: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/indigenous/rapporteur/

OHCHR Country Page – Suriname: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/LACRegion/Pages/SRIndex.aspx

Check the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: http://daccess-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N06/512/07/PDF/N0651207.pdf?OpenElement

For more information and press inquiries, please contact Lydie Ventre (Tel: +41 22 917 9313 / email: lventre@ohchr.org) or write to: indigenous@ohchr.org