News / 14 February 2024

Petition to protect the Saamaka people and the Amazon Forest

The Saamaka People, the Afro-descendant tribe of Suriname, have preserved close to 1.4 million hectares of the Amazon rainforest. They have for decades urged the government to recognise their ancestral territorial land rights.

In 2007, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruled in the Samaaka People. It also ruled that the government of Suriname is to stop logging and mining concessions on Samaaka territory and to legally recognize their collective ownership rights over the land. 

Both ENDS has supported the cause of the Samaaka People, and worked with the leadership of the Association of Saramaka Authorities (VSG) which was created (1996) to represent the position of traditional Saamaka leaders and their People from 77 villages.

New threat

While the Surinamese government is dragging its feet to implement the ruling of the Inter-American Court, a new threat is looming: the construction of a road through Saamaka territory which will open up the forest to logging, mining and poaching. Both ENDS supports the Samaaka People in their request to the Suriname Government to fully comply with the ruling of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, and notably:

  • Stop road work and all logging activities along the Palmeras road
  • Conduct a proper Free Prior Informed Consent with the wide Saamaka communities
  • Implement a Social Environmental Impact Assessment of the Palmeras road (and logging concession) by an independent body
  • Legally recognize Samaaka land ownership rights so that we have the autonomy to manage our forest sustainably and have the legal means to protect our livelihoods and culture from increasing threats
  • It is high time the international community recognizes that Suriname is one of the last remaining largely intact forest frontiers in the world. The Saamaka People offer an invaluable contribution to help preserve global biodiversity and climate stability.

Sign petition!

We invite both organisations and individuals to sign on to the petition initiated by the Saamaka People.


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