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< Current local time in Suriname – Paramaribo
PARAMARIBO—State owned television station STVS has apologized for pulling last Monday’s broadcast of the 10 Minute Youth Journal; the program, including the report of the commemoration of the December 8 Murders ran on Thursday night. Journal Editor in Chief Hennah Draaibaar said the TV station management has shown maturity. The Netherlands based media rights watchdog Free Press Unlimited, of which the journal is a partner said it was elated that the program was broadcast unabridged, yet still viewed the incident as a “childish form of censorship” that Government should investigate.
It was the first time in ten years the station stopped a broadcast of the Youth Journal, which only recently copped a prestigious award for its concept. The December Murder item concerned a report of the memorial last Saturday in the Alphons Church for the 15 men who were killed on December 8 1982 and for whose deaths President Bouterse is widely held responsible.
The last minute cancellation of the broadcast was immediately condemned by the Journalist Association SVJ said it was censorship. STVS Manager Shirley Lackin said on Tuesday that pulling the program had been a mistake, probably made by overzealous workers. “It was not supposed to have happened,” she said.
By Marvin Hokstam
PARAMARIBO–Government stepped in last week and brought an unprecedented solution to a long festering problem when it acquired parcels of land that for some 15 years has been at the center of an ongoing squabble between owners and squatters. “Previous Governments did nothing to fix this matter, but meantime it went from being a legal issue to an underestimated social problem. And for a social problem you need a social solution,” said parliamentarian Andre Misiekaba (NDP) who sees the solution as a personal milestone in a multifaceted problem. “We will find solutions as well for the other areas where this problem exists.”
Unlawful land occupancy became a problem in the late nineties, when –in the aftermath of the destructive internal war- many Maroon residents relocated from their traditional villages to Paramaribo. “Their accommodation was never properly arranged and they ended up squatting illegally on undeveloped land, and –probably because of the urgency- the then Government closed its eyes to it; for twelve years. That was wrong, because, even though it occurred during an emergency situation, it still concerned illegal habitation by one group of land that belonged to others,” Misiekaba, chairman of a Parliamentary Committee that looked into the matter explained.
A host of problems developed over the years, with owners having the “migrants” forcibly removed and their dwellings torn down. Some of the areas had mushroomed into shanty towns, where the residents, accustomed to living in tribal conditions, had built their dwellings crisscross across the land.
“Over the years there have been all sorts of statements by people who did not know the nuances. People were saying lock them up and that sort of stuff, but it’s because they did not know the size of the problem,” said Misiekaba. He said that when the Social Affairs Ministry finally ordered a thorough study in 2011, researchers found that it concerned some 3,500 households, totaling anywhere between 13,000 and 15,000 people. “How do you lock up that many people?” Misiekaba snickered.
PARAMARIBO–Disgust reigned on Tuesday after state-owned television station STVS pulled the broadcast of the 10 Minute Youth Journal because it included a report of the commemoration of the December 8 Murders. Journal Editor in Chief Hennah Draaibaar and Wilfred Leeuwin, Chairman of the Journalist Association SVJ said it was censorship.
It was the first time in ten years that the station stopped a broadcast of the Youth Journal, which only recently copped a prestigious award for its concept. STVS employees had not noticed it until the program was being announced. The station initially said at first that “people should understand that STVS is a state-owned station and that everything has to be checked before it is aired.”
Manager Shirley Lackin told journalists later that she did not know the program was yanked until Draaibaar called her about it. She said she understood why the people manning the switchboard stopped the broadcast. “There is a standing agreement that we carefully watch everything that gets delivered for broadcast. We receive all kinds of stuff and some of it can be offensive. The guys were just being thorough,” she said.
PARAMARIBO–German oil exploration company RWE Dea appeared upbeat this week about the outcome of its seismic survey offshore Suriname. “Only five months after our arrival in Suriname we are pleased to announce the successful completion of a 3D seismic acquisition program in the offshore License Block 52,” the company stated in a press release issues on Monday. The measurements had been carried out in only 53 days, a few days early and on budget.
The release said the data will now be processed with the results becoming available for interpretation in the second quarter of next year. It said the results of the interpretation of the data should provide detailed information about previously identified prospectivity on the block. The seismic acquisition activities were preceded by an extensive environmental study of the entire survey area.
“With the aid of this new data as well as already existing vintage 3D data, we can now prepare a meaningful image of potential hydrocarbon reservoirs across the entire license area,” said Hans-Hermann Ecke, RWE Dea’s Senior Vice President New Ventures. “We’re particularly pleased that this significant program has been carried out efficiently and without incident,” Ecke adds.
The company offered no estimate of the reserve potential. The CIA World Factbook in 2012 estimated the country had 72 million barrels of proved crude oil reserves.
AMSTERDAM–Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans has said his Government will not request South Africa to arrest Desi Bouterse when he attends the memorial service for Nelson Mandela, because as Suriname’s President he has immunity.
“Mr. Bouterse’s court sentence remains, but it cannot be executed as long as he is President,” Timmermans said. To PVV Second Chamber member Geert Wilders who -together with fellow VVD-er Raymond van Roon- had asked about Bouterse’s arrest, Timmermans response showed that the Foreign Minister is being led by fear to take action against Bouterse.
Timmermans was pretty terse and almost dismissive in his responses, crisply answering “yes” to some of Wilders’ and Van Roon’s open questions. “Yes” to the question whether he knew Bouterse would be attending Mandela’s funeral and a short “yes” to the request whether he would answer before Tuesday, December 10th at 12.00pm. The Minster only elaborated in his response to the question whether he thought it prudent that Bouterse would be present at an event King Willem Alexander would be attending as well.
“South Africa has extended invitations to Heads of State and the Netherlands places high value on attending this extraordinary gathering; invitations to other heads of state are of no interest (to us),” he said.
JEDDAH (Saudi Arabia) — Suriname and Guyana are expected to participate in the 40th Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Foreign ministers meeting, which begins Monday in Conakry, Guinea, under the theme: Dialogue of Civilizations: Factor of Peace and Sustainable Development.
Dr Anwar S. Lall Mohamed, ambassador-at-large and coordinator of OIC affairs, will represent Suriname on behalf of foreign minister Winston Lackin, who is in South Africa. Guyanese foreign minister, Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett, who was in Indonesia last week to attend the ninth World Trade Organisation (WTO) ministerial meeting, will be in Conakry to attend the OIC meeting.
There will be a special ministerial session on the city of Jerusalem “to seek practical steps towards addressing the Israeli policies and plans aimed at Judaising the Holy City and dividing Al Aqsa Mosque,” according to an OIC press statement. The agenda will also focus on the conflict in Syria, the situation of the Rohingya Muslim minority in Myanmar after the recent visit of a ministerial delegation to that country, the Moro Muslims in the southern Philippines, the establishment of new OIC regional offices in non-member states, and the appointment of assistant secretaries-general.
By Marvin Hokstam
AMSTERDAM–Announcements that President Desi Bouterse will be attending Nelson Mandela’s funeral have prompted politicians in the Netherlands to ask whether their Government will try to have him arrested in South Africa on drugs charges. The questions by PVV Second Chamber members Geert Wilders and Raymond De Roon coincided on Saturday with calls from an anti-Bouterse movement for reclamation of the amendments to the amnesty law that could see the president pardoned for his role in the murders of 15 citizens in 1982.
That Bouterse will be attending Mandela’s Official State Memorial Service on Tuesday 10 December was announced on Saturday, by press release from the Caribbean Community Caricom. The release said the Heads of Government of Trinidad and Tobago, The Bahamas, Guyana and Jamaica will also be in attendance. Mandela, the first democratically elected President of South Africa, former Head of the African National Congress and international icon, died on Thursday December 5th, at age 95. More than 50 heads of state have confirmed that they will attend his funeral in South Africa next week, the country’s foreign ministry tells Reuters. Among them will be King Willem Alexander of the Netherlands.
In their questions to Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans, Parliamentarians Wilders and Van Roon hint that they do not think it is prudent for Bouterse to be present at any formal ceremony at which their king is in attendance. “Do you agree with us …,? they ask.
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Leaders from the South Dakota governor’s office and the state National Guard say a recent visit to Suriname helped strengthen ties.
The Defense Department-sponsored partnership was established about seven years ago and numerous exchanges have since taken place to develop military, political, social and economic ties. Lt. Gov. Matt Michels and state Guard commander Maj. Gen. Tim Reisch visited the country late last month and met with several officials including President Desi Bouterse and U.S. ambassador Jay Anania.
WASHINGTON–Suriname will modernize its revenue management and improve tax collection in the medium and long-term with a US$20 million loan from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
This is the first of three programmatic policy-based loans supporting the country’s reform agenda for the fiscal sector, the bank said in a press release. This loan will complement the Bank supported public expenditure reforms currently underway. This program will lay the foundation for a modern revenue system through the improvement of its tax policy and tax and customs administration.
The project will support measures to develop clear and concise tax legislation, introduce modern regulations and streamline processes to cut compliance costs for the tax payer and improve taxpayer services. The project will also help modernize customs to facilitate trade and increase revenue by improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the Customs Administration.
Measures supported by the project include training and improvement of customs procedures as well as the creation of an electronic platform that will enable data to be shared among different government agencies.
The IDB loan has a 20-year maturity, a 5.5-year grace period and an interest rate based on LIBOR
AMSTERDAM–As President Desi Bouterse’s son Dino insisted in court on Thursday that he was innocent of plotting terrorist attacks on the US, two experts are saying that he may indeed have been tricked by Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). Dino (40) was arrested in Panama in August, initially on drugs and weapons charges, and since two weeks on charges that he was forging ties with terrorist group Hezbollah. “He was duped,” Michael Levine, a former DEA agent told Dutch media on Thursday night. Geert-Jan Knoops, an international lawyer said it remains to be seen whether the Judge in Manhattan who presides over the case will accept the evidence.
Dino terrorism indictment that was announced on November 9th caused nationwide shock in Suriname. The President’s son who in the past already had run-ins with authorities, had been caught on tape offering his services to purported members of Hezbollah in return for an initial US$ 2 million pay-off he expected to come from Iran. Prior to that he shipped 10 kilograms of cocaine from Suriname to the US and brandished firearms. He could face up to life in prison for the three counts in his indictment.
But the experts interviewed by Dutch TV news magazine Nieuwsuur say the accusation is fabricated and full of holes. Levine said the DEA agents Dino is seen talking to on the tape are adept at making cases, especially when it concerns an attractive suspect that could get them big rewards and yield major headlines. The former DEA agent compared the men who work for the agency these days as “paid bounty hunting freelancers” and “paid criminal informants.”