Country report and updates: Suriname

Last revision: 06 May 1998
06 May 1998

1 Conscription

conscription does not exist

Suriname has never had compulsory military service since independence was achieved in 1972.


Enlistment in the armed forces is voluntary. Nothing is known about recruitment methods.

Conditions in the armed forces are deplorable. Ever since 1980, following sergeant Desi Bouterse's coup, they have been deliberately neglected, in order to prevent further military coup attempts. [4]

2 Conscientious objection

Conscientious objection to military service is referred to in art. 122, para. 6, of the Constitution. This article states that the conditions for granting exemption from military service on conscientious grounds are laid down in law. However, no further legislation has ever been enacted. [1]

3 Draft evasion and desertion

No information available.

5 History

After obtaining independence in 1972, Suriname abolished conscription. Previously, the Netherlands' conscription laws applied. In 1980 a military coup was instigated by sergeant Desi Bouterse, whose dictatorship lasted for several years. From about 1986 to 1992 there was guerrilla war between government forces and the Brunswijk Jungle Commandos. This war led to hundreds of deaths. After the 1992 peace agreement, the members of the armed opposition groups were amnestied. [3] [4]

6 Annual statistics

The armed forces consist of some 1,800 troops - that is, 0.44 percent of the population. [2]


[1] UN Commission on Human Rights 1980. Report by the Secretary-General. United Nations, Geneva. [2] Institute for Strategic Studies 1997. Military Balance 1997/98. ISS, London, UK. [3] Amnesty International American Section 1993. Amnesty International Report 1993. Amnesty International USA, New York. [4] De Volkskrant (Dutch newspaper), 29 November 1997.