Occupation of Maho Indigenous land
Since 1971, the Maho indigenous community, in the District of Saramacca, Suriname, is officially legally recognized to live on a 65-hectare plot of land. However, the community has systematically and continously been criminalized and their land has been occupied and destroyed by third parties under the government’s watch.
The community has endured many abuses such as the extraction of sand, destruction of crops and exploitation of their natural resources, resulting in the degradation of their environment and way of life. However, the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR) has already asserted the right to communal property for tribal peoples and recognized their collective land rights.
Despite the recognition of the indigenous rights by the IACHR and by the international community, the abuses against the Maho community remain. A family, in 2016, claimed that they were the original legal owners of such territory, during the judicial process fraudulent evidence was known to be given.
Finally, in 2021, the Maho community, despite possessing the official agreement signed in 1970, lost the legal battle. The Court, outrageously, ruled in favour of the family and neither recognized the legal personality of the community nor their collective land rights.
Following this judicial decision, the police and government are forcing ten families from the Maho community to evacuate the area within two weeks without providing information about the reallocation.
The Maho community continues to suffer attacks on their dignity, land and their way of life. Global Human Rights Defence (GHRD) condemns these practices and calls upon the international community to eradicate the systematic abuse of human rights and calls upon Suriname’ government to comply with its international obligations and refrain from abusing Maho’s human rights.
September 2, 2021