22 March 2021
Suriname, with an estimated population of approximately 590,000, is located on the northeastern Atlantic coast of South America and is the smallest country on the continent. The country faces a complex situation as a country of origin, transit, and destination for human trafficking and irregular migration. As of 22 March 2021, the country had recorded 9,066 cases and 176 COVID-19 deaths. Following the confirmation of the first COVID-19 case in Suriname on 13 March 2020, the country shut down its airports, limited social gatherings, and closed schools. A year later, borders remain closed, non-nationals may not enter the country--save in certain circumstances, arriving travellers must carry a negative PCR report carried out 120 hours before departure, and in addition to quarantine upon arrival, arriving travellers are tested and medically screened.
The GDP has been unable to establish the extent to which detention facilities are used in Suriname as part of immigration enforcement procedures or to obtain details on COVID-19 related measures taken to safeguard people in immigration or criminal custody, or those in international protection situations.
According to data from the UNHCR, in 2020 (mid-year data), there were 47 refugees in the country and 1,852 asylum-seekers, compared with 44 refugees and 1,426 asylum seekers in 2019. On 5 May 2020, the World Bank provided US$ 412,000 to Suriname in order for the country to purchase essential medical supplies for the country’s emergency response to COVID-19.
The country has ratified several human rights treaties, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. However, at the time of writing, the country had not yet ratified other important human rights treaties, including the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.
During its review for the second cycle of the UN Universal Periodic Review, Suriname received several human rights recommendations, including: adopting “effective measures to ensure conditions of detention that respected the dignity of prisoners in particular the revised United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Nelson Mandela Rules) (South Africa) (para 135.34),” and “ratify the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (Honduras) (para. 135.15).”
- Worldometer, “Suriname Population,” accessed on 22 March 2020, https://www.worldometers.info/world-population/suriname-population/#:~:text=Suriname%202020%20population%20is%20estimated,(and%20dependencies)%20by%20population
- Worldometer, “Suriname: Coronavirus,” accessed on 22 March 2020, https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/suriname/
- Suriname Herald, “Breaking: All Schools Closed From Monday due to Coronavirus,” 14 March 2020, https://www.srherald.com/suriname/2020/03/14/breaking-alle-scholen-vanaf-maandag-gesloten-wegens-coronavirus/
- Suriname Herald, “Suriname Closes Borders for Travelers from Midnight,” 13 March 2020, https://www.srherald.com/suriname/2020/03/13/suriname-sluit-vanaf-middernacht-grenzen-voor-reizigers/
- Sitata, “COVID-19 Precautionary Measures in Suriname (21 November Update),” last updated 7 March 2021, https://www.sitata.com/en/alerts/covid-19-precautionary-measures-in-suriname-21-november-update
- Human Rights Council, “Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review,” A/HRC/33/4, 1 July 2016, https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G16/142/35/PDF/G1614235.pdf?OpenElement