Blog / 4 October 2011

A Cry from the heart

A Cry from the heart

The ruling is relevant for all communities in Latin America who, like the Saramaka, have no formal role in the governance of their country or region. To many it seems that for that reason, their opinion does not have to be taken into account in decision-making on the exploitation of natural resources in the area where they have been living for centuries. The Inter-American Court perceived it differently, and ordered Suriname to amend its legislation.

The ruling was a victory, but the story does not end there for the Saramaka. As a representative for its people, Jabini is still facing major challenges. Only when the rights of indigenous people are laid down in national legislation, the ruling has a real impact on decision-making. The reality Jabini has to deal with, is that although the decision of the court is recognised throughout the world, few people in Suriname know what is going on. As a Member of Parliament, Jabini is increasing pressure. In doing so, he does not only need the support of its political rank and file, but also has to convince the economic elite of his country.


Jabini is not afraid of these challenges. But he does need money. Money for educators to inform the Samaka of their newly seized rights. But also for public campaigns to back him up in the political debate.


People like Jabini accomplish a lot. Their commitment is essential in the fight against human rights violations and for the conservation and sustainable use of nature worldwide. With amazingly little money they achieve ground-breaking results. Nevertheless, for these people it is extremely difficult to get funds. It is time for all humans who strive for the conservation of nature and biodiversity to recognise that people who live in nature are important allies, deserving support in the changes they try to achieve in their communities. People like Jabini have to be able to rely on funds to carry out activities that are often invisible in their own country. They are the key to conservation of nature in the future.


2009  Goldman Prize for South & Central America: Wanze Eduards & S. Hugo Jabini

2007 Report of court case Inter American Court of Human Rights

Website Forest Peoples Programme

2006: Complaint against Suriname

Read more about this subject