At least 13 maroon villages in Suriname have filed a claim for substantial damages from the Suriname government and the state-owned oil company, Staatsolie after flooding in the area recently affected the villages, causing widespread disruption.
The residents of the Brokopondo district said that the floods were due to the decision to drain water from the reservoir resulting in disastrous consequences for the villages and that there had been no prior announcement “in any way with the local Saramaccan community”.
The applicants have engaged the Netherlands-based legal consultancy firm King Juridisch Adviseurs as their authorized representative and they are demanding on behalf of the Saramacca Maroon tribe, Euro 150 million (One Euro=US$1.29) in compensation.
The residents said that Brokopondo has been under water for three months without any assistance from the government, describing the situation as “a crime against humanity.
“There could not be impunity for the perpetrators of this flood. And the damage suffered by the victims must be fully and quickly compensated.”
President Chandrikapersad Santokhi has been given a one week deadline to respond to the petition.
“I have nothing against the government, but because I know I have rights and I know my rights have been violated, I have made the decision to do this,” said attorney Ivonne Pinas, referring also to a 2007 ruling by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
Successive governments have failed to implement the judgement establishing the tribal rights of the Saamaka community.
“It is now time for it to be implemented,” said Pinas, adding that the government is in no way communicating with the Saamaka community on the matter.
The residents have also taken offence at statements made by former minister Richard Kalloe, who in a radio interview, described Maroons as “prehistoric people’.
President Santokhi is also being blamed for not having publicly distancing himself from Kalloe’s statements.
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