Suriname TV yanks December Murders show

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The Surinamese State TV broadcaster (STVS) aborted a broadcast Monday evening covering the memorial of the December Murders, when 15 critics of former dictator Dési Bouterse were arrested in the early hours of December 7, 1982, and executed over a two-day period. Bouterse is currently president of Suriname after being elected by parliament in 2010.

A ten-minute edition of the STVS program "Youth Journal" was pulled from the schedule. The pulled episode featured a mass in memory of those killed in 1982. Bouterse, long suspected of orchestrating the political executions, was granted amnesty in a controversial parliamentary procedure in 2012.

Pieter Van Maele

"The staff of the station need to screen everything before broadcast, and they failed to do so in this instance," said STVS head Shirley Lackin. However, Youth Journal Chief Editor Hennah Draaibaar denies the existence of any such guideline.

"There was nothing shocking in the story that would justify aborting it," Draaibaar said to a local newspaper. "Any screening would mean censorship and would impact the freedom of speech."

The show is broadcast daily on several TV stations in Suriname.

Bouterse was also sentenced in absentia to eleven years in prison by a Dutch court for cocaine trafficking, but the country has not managed to capture him to serve his sentence. The Netherlands will not request South Africa to arrest and extradite him when he attends Mandela's funeral, because of his immunity to prosecution as head of state, according to Minister of Foreign Affairs Frans Timmermans.