Press Release

IACHR Welcomes Abolition of the Death Penalty in Suriname

March 12, 2015

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Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) welcomes Suriname's decision of March 3, 2015, to abolish the death penalty. The IACHR also urges OAS Member States that still have capital punishment to follow this example of abolishing it.

"This is a very significant positive step," said the Chair of the IACHR, Commissioner Tracy Robinson. "In its report The Death Penalty in the Inter-American Human Rights System: From Restrictions to Abolition, the Inter-American Commission called upon OAS Member States that still have the death penalty to abolish it or at least to impose a moratorium on its application. Suriname's decision is a very important step forward, one the Inter-American Commission applauds and hopes will become an example for countries in the region where the death penalty still exists," she added.

In December 2014, Suriname voted in favor of a resolution in the United Nations General Assembly on a moratorium on the use of the death penalty. High-level government officials in Suriname also made statements indicating that the country intended to take an important step forward on the issue. Finally, in the context of debates on the adoption of a new Criminal Code, the National Assembly of Suriname approved the abolition of the death penalty.

The Commission stresses that the elimination of the death penalty from Suriname's Criminal Code represents an opportunity for Caribbean countries to make significant progress in guaranteeing human rights in the region. The Commission recalls the breakthrough on this issue in the Caribbean region when the majority of the countries invalidated the application of the mandatory death penalty, a penalty which is imposed after a criminal conviction without the opportunity to present or consider extenuating circumstances.

The United States is the only country in the Americas in which capital punishment is applied, but several other States still allow for capital punishment in their legislation. The Inter-American Commission reiterates the need to promote legislative reform in these countries in order to abolish the death penalty throughout the region, or at least to impose a moratorium on its application. In this regard, the Commission also urges States that have not done so to ratify the Protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights to Abolish the Death Penalty.

On March 16, in the context of its 154th session, the IACHR will hold a hearing on the human rights impact of having the death penalty in effect in the Greater Caribbean.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 027/15