CONSTITUTION OF SURINAME, 1987
WE, THE PEOPLE OF SURINAME,
inspired by the love for this Country and the belief in the power of the
Almighty and guided by the centuries-long struggle of our people against
colonialism, which was terminated by the establishment of the Republic of
Suriname on 25 November 1975,
taking into consideration the consequent struggle against neo-colonialist
colonization and the process of renovation of social relations, which was
commenced on 25 February 1980,
conscious of our duty to combat and to prevent every form of foreign domination,
resolved to defend and protect the national sovereignty, independence and integrity,
assured of the will to determine our economic, social and cultural development
in full freedom convinced of our duty to honor and to guarantee the principles
of freedom, equality and democracy as well as the fundamental rights and
freedoms of man,
inspired by a civic spirit and by the participation in the construction,
expansion and maintenance of a society that is socially just,
determined to collaborate with one another and with all peoples of the world on
the basis of freedom, equality, peaceful coexistence and international
SOLEMNLY DECLARE, TO ACCEPT, AS A RESULT OF THE PLEBISCITE TO BE HELD, THE
THE REPUBLIC OF SURINAME
- The Republic of Suriname is a democratic State based upon the sovereignty of the people and on the respect and guarantee of the fundamental right and liberties.
- The Suriname Nation determines its economic social and cultural development in full freedom.
- Suriname comprises the territory on the South American continent that is as such historically defined.
- The State shall not transfer rights to territory or sovereign rights which it exercises over that territory.
- The extent and boundaries of the territorial waters and the rights of Suriname to the adjacent continental shelf and the economic zone are determined by law.
- Who is a Suriname national and who is a resident shall be decided by law.
- Naturalization shall be regulated by law.
- All Suriname citizens are allowed access into Suriname and are free to move about and to reside within Suriname, except in the cases, defined in the law.
- All Suriname citizens shall be eligible for appointment to any office in the service of the State on an equal footing.
- The law shall determine in which public offices foreigners can be appointed.
- The entry of foreigners and their expulsion shall be regulated by law.
- The law shall determine the rules regarding the extradition of foreigners; extradition can only occur on the basis of a treaty or in the manner determined by law.
STATE AND SOCIETY
The concern of the State is aimed at:
- a. The construction and maintenance of a national economy free from foreign intervention;
- b. Sufficiency of means for the total population;
- c. Sufficient employment under the guarantee of freedom and justice;
- d. The sharing of everyone in the economic, social and cultural development and progress;
- e. Participation in the sense of citizenship during the construction, the expansion and the maintenance of a just society;
- f. Guaranteeing national unity and sovereignty.
CHAPTER II Article 5
- The economic objectives of the Republic of Suriname shall aim at the construction of a national economy, free from foreign domination and for the benefit of the Suriname nation.
- The economic system within which the social-economic development takes place, is characterized by common, contemporaneous and equal functioning of state enterprises, private enterprises, enterprises in which the State and private persons participate i
n common and cooperative enterprises, according to rules of law applicable in that matter.
- It is the duty of the State to promote and to guarantee as much as possible all modes of production by private enterprises.
CHAPTER III Article 6
The social objectives of the State shall aim at:
- a. The identification of the potentialities for development of the own natural environment and the enlarging of the capacities to ever more expand those potentialities;
- b. Guaranteeing the participation of the community in the political life among other ways through national, regional and sectoral participation;
- c. Guaranteeing a governmental policy intent upon raising the standard of living and of well-being of the society, based upon social justice, the integral and balanced development of State and society;
- d. A just division of the national income, directed towards a just spreading of well-being and wealth over all strata of the population;
- e. Regional spreading of public utilities and economic activities;
- f. The improvement of codetermination by the employees in companies and production units in the taking of decisions about production, economic development and planning;
- g. Creating and improving the conditions necessary for the protection of nature and for the preservation of the ecological balance.
CHAPTER IV Article 7
- The Republic of Suriname recognizes and respects the right of nations to self-determination and national independence on the basis of equality, sovereignty and mutual benefit.
- The Republic of Suriname promotes the development of the international legal order and supports the peaceful settlement of international disputes.
- The Republic of Suriname rejects all armed aggression, every form of political and economic pressure, as well as every direct or indirect intervention in the domestic affairs of other States.
- The Republic of Suriname promotes the solidarity and cooperation with other peoples in the combat against colonialism, neo-colonialism, racism, genocide and in the combat for national liberation, peace and social progress.
- The Republic of Suriname promotes the participation in international organizations with a view to establishing peaceful coexistence, peace and progress for mankind.
CHAPTER V Article 8
BASIC RIGHTS, INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS
- All who are within the territory of Suriname have an equal claim to protection of person and property.
- No one may be discriminated against on the grounds of birth, sex, race, language, religious origin, education, political beliefs, economic position or any other status.
- Everyone has a right to physical, mental and moral integrity.
- No one may be submitted to torture, degrading or inhuman treatment or punishment.
Everyone has in case of infringement of his rights and freedoms a claim to an
honest and public treatment of his complaint within a reasonable time by an
independent and impartial judge.
No person may be withdrawn against his own will from the judge whom the law
assigns to him.
- Everyone can have legal assistance before the courts
- The law regulates the rendering of legal aid to those who are financially weaker.
Loss of civil rights or the general forfeiture of all the goods of an offender
may not be inflicted as a penalty or as a consequence of a penalty for any
Everyone has a right to life. This right is protected by the law.
No one shall be obliged to do forced or compulsory labor.
- Everyone has the right to personal liberty and safety.
- No one will be deprived of his freedom, other than on grounds and according to proceedings determined by law.
- Everyone who is deprived of his freedom has a right to a treatment in accordance with human dignity.
- Everyone has a right to respect of his privacy, his family life, his home and his honor and good name.
- No dwelling may be entered against the occupant’s will except when commissioned by an authority which has the power to give that order by virtue of law and subject to the conditions prescribed by the law.
- The secrecy of letters, telephone and telegraph is inviolable except in the cases described by law.
Everyone has the right of freedom of religion and philosophical conviction.
Everyone has the right to make public his thoughts or feelings and to express
his opinion through the printed press or other means of communication,
notwithstanding everyone’s responsibility according to the law.
Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful association and assembly, taking
into consideration the rules to be determined by law for the protection of
public order, safety, health and morality.
- The right to demonstrate peacefully is acknowledged.
- The use of that right can, for the protection of public order, safety, health and morality, be submitted to limitation through the law.
- Everyone has the right to submit written petitions to the public authorities.
- The law regulates the procedure for handling them.
In case of war, danger of war, state of siege or state of emergency or for
reasons of state security, public order and morality, the rights mentioned in
the Constitution may be submitted to limitations by law, which will be in force
during a certain time, depending on the circumstances, with due respect for the
international rules applicable in that matter.
SOCIAL, CULTURAL AND ECONOMIC FIGHTS AND OBLIGATIONS First Section
THE RIGHT TO WORK
The state shall take care of the creation of conditions in which an optimal
satisfaction of the basic needs for work, food, health care, education, energy,
clothing and communication is obtained.
Labour is the most important means of human development and an important source
- Everyone has the right to work, in accordance with his capacities.
- The duty to work is indissolubly attached to the right to work.
- Everyone has the right of free choice of profession and work, except for regulations imposed by law.
- Everyone has the right of initiative for economic production.
STATE CONCERN FOR LABOUR
It shall be the duty of the State to guarantee the right to work maximally by:
- a. Following a planned policy, aimed at full employment;
- b. Forbidding the discharge without sufficient cause or for political or ideological reasons;
- c. Guaranteeing equal opportunity in the choice of profession and type of work and forbidding that access to any function or profession by prevented on grounds of someone’s sex
- d. Promoting professional training for employees.
- The State shall take care of the creation of conditions for the optimal promotion of initiatives for economic production.
RIGHTS OF EMPLOYEES
All employees have, independent of age, sex, race, nationality, religion or
political opinions, the right to:
- a. Remuneration for their work corresponding to quantity, type, quality and experience on the basis of equal pay for equal work;
- b. The performance of their task under humane conditions, in order to enable self-development;
- c. Safe and healthy working condition;
- d. Sufficient rest and recreation.
DUTIES OF THE STATE CONCERNING THE RIGHTS OF EMPLOYEES
It is the duty of the State to indicate the conditions for work, remuneration
and rest to which employees are entitled, especially by:
- a. Mankind regulations with regard to wages, time of work, about conditions and special categories or workers;
- b. Supplying special protection on the job for women before and after pregnancy, for minors, disabled persons and for those who are engaged in work which demands special efforts or who work in unhealthy or dangerous conditions.
FREEDOM OF TRADE UNIONS
- Employees are free to establish trade unions to foster their rights and interests.
For the exercise of the rights of trade unions the following freedoms are guaranteed indiscriminately:
- a. Freedom to join or not to join a trade union;
- b. The right to participate in trade union activities.
- Trade unions shall be bound by the principles of democratic organization and management, based on regular elections of their boards of directors through secret ballot.
RIGHTS OF TRADE UNIONS AND COLLECTIVE AGREEMENTS
- The trade unions shall have the power to defend the rights and interests of the employees they represent and for whom they assume responsibility.
Trade unions shall participate in:
- a. The preparation of labour legislation;
- b. The creation of institutions of social security and other institutions aimed at serving the interests of employees;
- c. The preparation for and the control of the execution of economic and social plans
- Trade unions shall have the right to conclude collective labour agreements. The rules concerning the powers to conclude collective labour agreements and the sphere of application of their rules shall be determined by law.
RIGHTS OF EMPLOYERS
The associations for the defense of business entrepreneurs shall have the power
to defend the rights and interests of those whom they represent and for whom
they assume responsibility.
RIGHT TO STRIKE
The right to strike is recognized subject to the limitations which stem from the law.
RIGHT TO PROPERTY
- Property, of the community as well as of the private person, shall fulfill a social function. Everyone has the right to undisturbed use of his property subject to the limitations which stem from the law.
- Expropriation shall only take place for reasons of public utility according to rules to be laid down by law and against previously assured compensation.
- Compensation need not be previously assured if in case of emergency immediate expropriation is required.
- In cases determined by or through the law, the right to compensation shall exist if the competent public authority destroys or renders property unserviceable or restricts the exercise of property rights for the public interest.
- The family is recognized and protected.
- Husband and wife are equal before the law.
- Every child shall have the right to protection without any form of discrimination.
- Parents shall have the same responsibilities towards legal or natural children.
- The State recognizes the extraordinary value of motherhood.
- Working women shall be entitled to paid maternity leave.
- Everyone shall have a right to good health.
- The State shall promote the general health care by systematic improvement of living and working conditions and shall give information on the protection of health.
Young people shall enjoy special protection for the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights, among which are:
- a. Access to education, culture and work;
- b. Vocational schooling;
- c. Physical training, sports and recreation;
- The primary goal of youth policy shall be the development of the personality of the young person and of the concept of service to the community.
EDUCATION AND CULTURE
- Everyone shall have a right to education and to enjoyment of culture.
- The provision of education shall be free, subject to State control of all public educational institutions in keeping with the national education policy and the rules regarding education laid down by the State.
- The practice of science and technology shall be free.
- The State shall promote the kind of education and the conditions under which school education and other forms of education can contribute to the development of a democratic and socially just society.
- The State shall promote the democratization of culture by stimulating the enjoyment of culture and cultural relations and through assuring the availability of those cultural creations to all citizens by means of cultural and recreational organizations
, information media and other suitable channels.
The State shall recognize and guarantee the right of all citizens to education and shall offer them equal opportunity for schooling.
In the execution of its education policy the State shall be under the obligation:
- a. To assure obligatory and free general primary education;
- b. To assure durable education and to end analphabetism;
- c. To enable all citizens to attain the highest levels of education, scientific research and artistic creation, in accordance with their capacities;
- d. To provide, in phases, free education on all levels;
- e. To tune education to the productive and social needs of the society
CHAPTER VII Article 40
THE ECONOMIC ORDER:
TASKS OF THE STATE IN THE ECONOMIC ORDER
In order to promote the socioeconomic development towards a socially just
society, a development plan shall be determined by law, taking into
consideration the national and socioeconomic goals of the State.
Natural riches and resources are property of the nation and shall be used to
promote economic, social and cultural development. The nation shall have the
inalienable right to take complete possession of the natural resources in order
to apply them to the needs of the economic, social and cultural development of
- The law shall guarantee that the mode of exercise of trade and industry is not contrary to the national goals, the public interest and notably the public policy, health, morality and state security.
- The currency exchange shall be regulated by law.
The structure of the financial system shall be regulated by law in such a
manner that by saving and by the correct allocation of the necessary financial
means, investments in the productive sector would be advanced.
The right to industrial property shall be regulated by law.
CHAPTER VIII Article 45
THE SOCIAL ORDER
The social order shall be based in principle on a society, wherein all Suriname
citizens have equal rights and obligations.
The State shall create the conditions, which lay the foundations for the
formation of citizens capable of participating in a democratic and effective
manner in the development process of the nation.
The State shall safeguard and protect the cultural heritage of Suriname,
stimulate its preservation and promote the use of science and technology in the
context of the national development aims.
- The State shall inspect the production, storing and handling of chemical, biological, pharmaceutical and other products, intended for consumption, medical treatment and diagnosis.
- The State shall inspect all medical functions, the function of pharmacist and other paramedical practices.
- The inspection of the products and functions mentioned in paragraphs (2) and (3) shall be regulated by law.
A housing plan shall be determined by law, aimed at the procurement of a
sufficient number of affordable houses and State control of the use of real
estate for public housing.
The policy regarding widows, orphans, the aged, invalids and incapacitated
workers shall be indicated by law.
The State shall take care to make the services of legal aid institutions
accessible to those looking for justice.
CHAPTER IX First Section
PRINCIPLES OF DEMOCRATIC STATE ORGANIZATION
- All political power is vested in the people and shall be exercised in accordance with the constitution.
- Political democracy is characterized by the participation and representation of the Suriname people, which shall express itself through the participation of the people in laying down a democratic political regime, and through their participation in le
gislation and administration, aimed at the upholding and expanding of this system. Political democracy shall further create the conditions for the participation of the people in t general, free and secret elections for the composition of representative o
rgans and of the Government.
- Accountability to the people, supervision of government actions by institutions created for that purpose and the right of revocation with regard to elected representatives are guarantees for true democracy.
- The State shall accept the freedom of citizens to create political organizations, subject to the limitations which stem from the law.
- Political organizations shall respect the national sovereignty and democracy.
In exercising their mandate the political organizations shall take into account the following:
- a. Their goals may not be in violation of or incompatible with the Constitution and the laws;
- b. The organization shall be accessible to the Suriname citizen, who fulfills criteria to be defined by law provided that he agrees upon the basic principles of the party.
c. The internal organization must be democratic, which shall be evidenced inter alia by:
- - regular elections for the board of directors;
- - the prerequisite that candidates proposed of the chamber of representatives shall be elected within the party structures;
- d. The electorate shall be informed of the political program and the election program of the political organizations;
- e. Annual publications of sources of income and accounts shall be made in the Official Journal of the Republic of Suriname and at least one newspaper;
- f. Their functioning shall be in accordance with principles of good administration, and with prescribed legal rules for the guaranteeing of openness and transparency;
- g. The drafting of a programme, with as sole goal the promotion of the national interest
BASIC PRINCIPLES FOR THE FUNCTIONING OF THE STATE ORGANS
- The State is obliged to register those with voting rights and to convoke them to participate in the elections. The registration of the voters shall serve no other purpose. Those with a right to vote are obliged to cooperate with the registration of
For the organization and the functioning of the state organs the following principles shall be respected:
- a. Decisions of higher State organs shall be binding upon lower organs. This rule does not apply to judicial organs;
- b. Lower State organs shall be deemed to submit justification to the superior organs and to give account of their work;
- c. The local, administrative and executive organs shall be subject to control by the representative bodies;
- d. The freedom of discussion, criticism and recognition of the minority and the majority shall apply in all councils and organs of the State;
- e. Those who hold political office shall be liable in civil and criminal law for their acts and omissions;
- f. Those who hold political office shall be under the obligation to fulfill their tasks in the public interest;
- g. No one shall be nominated for life in a political office;
- h. The central authority shall organize the regular dissemination of information on government policy and state administration, in order to allow the people to participate optimally in the administrative structures. The lower administration shall ha
ve the obligation to create a process of communication with the people, for the purpose of making government public-oriented and for participation in policy-making.
CHAPTER X First Section
THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
ORGANIZATION AND COMPOSITION OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
- The National Assembly represents the people of the Republic of Suriname and expresses the sovereign will of the nation.
- The National Assembly is the highest organ of the State.
ELECTION OF THE MEMBERS OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
- Members of the National Assembly shall be elected for a five-year term.
- The law can only derogate from the five-year term in case of war or other extraordinary circumstances, which prevent the holding of elections.
Eligible are the inhabitants who have Suriname nationality, who have reached
the age of twenty-one and have not been deprived of the right to vote on the
grounds mentioned in the previous article under (a) and (c).
- a. To whom the right to vote has been denied by an irrevocable judicial decision;
- b. Who are lawfully deprived of their liberty
- c. Who, by virtue of an irrevocable judicial decision, have lost the right to dispose of or administer their property on account of insanity or imbecility.
MEMBERSHIP OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
The law determines for which functions the membership of the National Assembly
results in non-activity.
- The National Assembly consists of 51 members chosen by district on the basis of general, free and secret elections by virtue of the system of proportionate representation on the highest number of average and preferential votes.
- Persons who have submitted their candidacy for election as representatives in the National Assembly shall live in said district and shall have had their main or real residence there during two years preceding the elections.
The sessions of the National Assembly and of the other representative organs on
the local and district levels coincide as much as possible.
- Among the members of the National Assembly there may not be two members connected by blood up to and including the second degree and two married members.
- When individuals in a forbidden degree of blood connection or of marriage are elected simultaneously, it shall be decided by lot who will be admitted.
“I swear (promise) that in order to be elected a member of the National
Assembly I have not given or promised, nor will give or promise, directly or
indirectly, under whatsoever name or pretext, anything to anyone whomsoever.
I swear (promise) that in order to do or refrain from doing anything whatsoever
in this office, I will not accept any promises or presents, directly or indirectly, from anyone whomsoever.
I swear (promise) that I will fulfill the office of member of the Assembly conscientiously.
I swear (promise) that I will foster the well-being of Suriname to the best of my capacities.
I swear (promise) obedience to the Constitution and all other rules of law.
I swear (promise) allegiance to the Republic of Suriname.
So help me, God Almighty(that I declare and promise).”
The Legislator, the Government and the other organs of government shall respect
the rules of the Constitution.
POWERS OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
Without prejudice to what is reserved elsewhere in the Constitution for
regulation by law, the following subjects shall certainly be determined by
- The National Assembly shall have the power to decide over all proposals of law that will be submitted before it for approval.
- The National Assembly shall have the power to decide by 2/3 majority on organizing a People’s Assembly or a plebiscite in the cases provided for by law or if the National Assembly thinks right to do so.
- The National Assembly lays down its Rules of order. These Rules of Order shall be promulgated by a decision of state.
- a.The election of the President and the Vice-President;
- b.The proposal for nomination to the President of the chairman and vice-chairman, the members and the surrogate members of the organ charged with the supervision and control of the expenditure of the state finances.
RIGHTS OF AMENDMENT INITIATIVE, INTERROGATION AND INVESTIGATION
The National Assembly shall have the right of amendment in a proposal of law of
- The President introduces the proposals of law or other Government proposals before the National Assembly in a written message.
- Public debate on any received Government proposal shall always be preceded by an examination of that proposal.
- The National Assembly shall determine in its Rules of Order the manner in which such examination shall be made.
Every member to the National Assembly shall have the right to introduce
proposals of law to the National Assembly.
- If the National Assembly resolves to pass the proposal either unchanged or changed, it shall notify the President thereof.
- If the National Assembly resolves not to pass the proposal it shall also give notice thereof to the President, with the request to consider anew the proposal. As long as the National Assembly has not taken a decision, the President shall continue to
have the power to withdraw the proposal which he introduced.