UN rights expert urges greater dialogue between Suriname and indigenous groups

17 March 2011

Suriname’s authorities need to engage in further dialogue with the country’s indigenous and tribal peoples to advance those groups’ land and resource rights, a United Nations human rights expert said today.

James Anaya, the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, wrapped up a four-day visit this week to Suriname, where he met with indigenous and tribal groups, senior Government officials and UN staff.

Mr. Anaya said in a statement issued in Paramaribo, the capital, that the dialogue should help lead to “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.”

In 2007 the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruled in favour of the Saramaka people in their case against Suriname, granting them collective rights to the lands in which they and their ancestors had lived, as well as other resource rights.

Mr. Anaya  who was making the first-ever visit to Suriname by an independent expert designated by the UN Human Rights Council – described the trip as “fruitful and constituted a unique and valuable opportunity for dialogue and consultation.”

He pledged to work with the Government and the indigenous and tribal groups to help them with their dialogue on land and resource rights.

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