US imposes entry ban on former Suriname president and military officials for involvement in human rights violations News
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US imposes entry ban on former Suriname president and military officials for involvement in human rights violations

The US Department of State decided on Friday to prevent former President of Suriname Desi Bouterse and six former Surinamese military officials from entering the US because they were involved in the “extrajudicial killings of political opponents during the December Murders of 1982.”

According to a statement published by the State Department, Desi Bouterse, six military officials and four family members are “ineligible for entry in the US” under Section 7031(c) of the Department of State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Appropriations Act.

Desi Bouterse was the President of Suriname from 2010 to 2020, but he initially rose to power in 1980 after a military coup conducted on February 25 by 16 Surinamese National Army officers, including Bouterse himself. In December 1982 and under Desi Bouterse’s presidency, 15 Surinamese men were arrested and transferred to Fort Zeelandia in Paramaribo, the capital of Suriname, where they were shot to death by Bouterse’s soldiers for criticizing the military dictatorship installed by the former president. The victims were national opposition figures and included journalists, professors, scientists and businessmen. A memorial plaque in Amsterdam was dedicated to the Surinamese victims to commemorate what was known as the “December Murders” of 1982.

Desi Bouterse went on trial in 2008 for his role in the 1982 murders and was sentenced to 20 years in prison twice, the first time in 2019 and the second time in 2021, and he unsuccessfully appealed both decisions. The sentence of 20 years in prison was upheld in a final decision ruled out by the High Court in Suriname in December 2023, putting an end to a long legal process.

However, Desi Bouterse is still free after he failed to report to prison in January this year following his conviction. Former first lady and Bouterse’s wife Ingrid Bouterse-Waldring told local reporters that she doesn’t know her husband’s location, but said that he won’t turn himself into authorities, claiming that her husband’s trial is biased and politically motivated by the Dutch government.

Bouterse’s failure to report triggered an investigation by Suriname’s Public Prosecution Service to internationally track down the former Surinamese President convicted for the 1982 murders.