Capital punishment in Suriname

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The death penalty remains legal in Suriname, although no executions have taken place since 1982. The government is currently moving to abolish the death penalty.


Since Suriname was a Dutch colony until 1975, it followed Dutch law, which did not permit capital punishment. From independence in 1975 to 1980, capital punishment was on the books, but no crimes committed were considered severe enough to warrant prosecution for it. From 1980 to 1987, during the period of military dictatorship, the death penalty was used by the military government in the early years of its rule to get rid of political opponents. The last judicial execution in Suriname was that of Wilfred Hawker, a sergeant-major in the Surinamese military who had staged two unsuccessful coup attempts to overthrow the military government. He was executed by firing squad on 13 March 1982. The government did carry out a series of extrajudicial executions in December 1982, when 15 imprisoned opponents of the military regime were shot without trial. The events would become known as the December murders.


The death penalty is de facto abolished by signing the Treaty of San José in 1987, and Suriname is moving to abolish the death penalty also de jure. To do so, it has introduced legislation it hopes would be approved in October 2014 to coincide with World Day Against the Death Penalty.


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