The greenest country in the world? The case of the Saamaka and their fight against deforestation

2024-07-01 Latin America

New evidence from geospatial maps reveals the shocking extent of forest damage to Saamaka territory in Suriname’s Amazon due to illegal logging and mining concessions granted by the government. Saamaka territory is also a critical carbon sink. More than 14 years after the Inter-American Court of Human Rights mandated the government of Suriname stop the logging and mining, demarcate Saamaka territory, and legally recognise their collective rights over the land, new concessions continue to be granted without the Saamaka’s Free, Prior and Informed Consent. This report outlines the devastating consequences, including deforestation, land dispossession and the disruption of tribal livelihoods that are deeply rooted in the land.

The report is a response to a request from the Association of Saamaka Authorities (VSG) to the international community to support the Saamaka people’s efforts to defend their territory against activities that encroach on forests and to help build evidence of the violations of the Saamaka judgement that have taken place. Its authors make a call for action to international organizations to develop and implement a joint advocacy agenda urging the Government of Suriname to legally recognize the land rights of the Saamaka people, to stop activities that are destroying forests in Saamaka lands and to form an alliance with the Saamaka (and other Indigenous) people to keep Suriname the “greenest country on earth”.

Authors: Sara Olga Ramirez Gomez and Jérémy Bourgoin
Published: 2024
Source: International Land Coalition

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