SURINAME: MINISTER OF JUSTICE, DEATH PENALTY TO BE REVOKED
|Justice and Police Minister Edward Belfort
May 19, 2014: Justice and Police Minister Edward Belfort announced that Suriname will raise its maximum jail sentence to 30 years when it removes the death penalty from its criminal code.
Belfort told Times of Suriname that the 20 year maximum jail sentence that is currently known as âlife in jailâ will be stretched with ten extra years. The longest jail term is reserved for heinous crimes; the second longest jail term, given to criminals found guilty of committing lesser crimes will be bumped from 15 to 20 years.
The Minister said the amendments are related to a draft modification of the Criminal Code that will soon be sent to the National Assembly (DNA) for consideration.
The revised code will no longer feature the death penalty, which though it has not been carried out in Suriname since 1982, was never removed from the criminal code. Belfort said the death penalty is an outdated piece of legislation that is irreversible once it is carried out. He also said that in his opinion it is not for Government prerogative to decide who lives or dies.
The Justice Minister has been very vocal about scrapping the capital punishment, saying in March that âcountries that apply it would be expected to be the safest countries in the world, yet still have many murders committed on a daily basis.â He said that Suriname has is no need for the death penalty.
The country has also been under increased pressure to remove the death penalty from its criminal code. In February officials from the International Commission against the Death Penalty (ICDP) visited Suriname to recommend a vote next October in favour of the UN General Assembly resolution for a global moratorium of the death penalty. âCountries which have abolished capital punishment often have lower murder rates than those that have yet to do so,â the Commission stated in a subsequent press release. (Sources: devsur.com, 19/05/2014)