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Suriname 2017 Crime & Safety Report

Western Hemisphere > Suriname; Western Hemisphere > Suriname > Paramaribo

Overall Crime and Safety Situation

U.S. Embassy Paramaribo does not assume responsibility for the professional ability or integrity of the persons or firms appearing in this report. The ACS Unit cannot recommend a particular individual or location and assumes no responsibility for the quality of service provided.

THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED PARAMARIBO AS BEING A HIGH-THREAT LOCATION FOR CRIME DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.

Please review OSAC’s Suriname-specific webpage for proprietary analytic reports, Consular Messages, and contact information.

Inadequate resources, limited law enforcement training, the absence of a law enforcement presence in the interior, and lack of government aircraft or sufficient numbers of patrol boats limit the capacity of the government to control its territory or its borders.

Crime Threats

Crime is a major concern. The police and press report that overall crime levels are increasing, but violent crimes are increasing at a far greater level. Murders, residential/business robberies, carjackings, burglaries, and muggings occurred regularly in 2016. Street crime (thefts of backpacks, purses, jewelry (especially necklaces), cell phones) are regular occurrences. Tourist areas are common targets for thieves and muggers who often work at night. There is a steep increase in these types of crimes around the December/January holidays. Criminals move into/out of neighborhoods where expatriates live, often using scooters/motorcycles to evade police. It is recommended that visitors avoid walking in the Paramaribo downtown area and the Palmentuin (Palm Garden) area after dark, as criminals often target foreigners there.

Criminals often carry weapons and will use them, especially if victims resist. Handgun permits are very difficult to obtain, but many criminals have guns. Many criminals use shotguns, which are the only firearm that is normally owned by civilians, in committing crimes. Although illegal, gun traps are used for hunting purposes in the interior. A Peace Corps volunteer died as a result of a gun trap accident in 2007.

Most foreigners are very visible in public and should take precautions to prevent becoming a victim. If confronted by an armed criminal, do not argue or attempt to confront him/her in any way. Quickly relinquish what you are told to surrender.

There have been reports of criminal incidents in the vicinities of the major hotels. Guests at major hotels have reported thefts of personal items from their rooms and from common areas. Numerous expatriates have been robbed at gun point while walking near popular hotels. Walking alone outside at night, even in the immediate vicinity of hotels, is highly discouraged.

Make your colleagues/family aware of your daily plans and how to reach you. Be unpredictable in work/social schedules. Identify and report vehicles or persons possibly involved in surveillance. Never give out your personal information in an open setting.

Among home burglaries in 2016, several high-level host-nation government officials and expatriates were victims, seeming to indicate the brazen determination of burglars. Armed robberies and armed home invasions occurred even within one block of Embassy residences. There are also reports of guard dogs being poisoned as a tactic to commit burglary. However, there were no reports of burglaries at homes where official Americans reside or at homes that deploy 24-hour residential security guards. The RSO recommends that monitored security systems and residential guards be part of a residential security program. Other security upgrades (alarms, grilles, lighting/perimeter barriers) are also highly recommended.

Organized crime does exist in Paramaribo but is on a smaller scale than other cities in the region.

Areas of Concern

If venturing into the interior, have a seasoned guide and some form of communication. Services offered through major hotels and tourist agencies are usually safer and more reliable. Travel to the interior of the country requires caution. There have been reports of tourists and foreigners being robbed in the countryside and occasional reports of bandits on rural roads.

Transportation-Safety Situation

Road Safety and Road Conditions

Vehicle accidents are a very real safety threat. In general, roads and driving conditions, particularly outside Paramaribo, are well below U.S. standards. Drivers should be very cognizant of mopeds, scooters, and motorcycles, especially when making turns. They are common and have the right-of-way, as they are considered pedestrians by law.

Police sporadically enforce traffic laws, so locals drive recklessly. Traffic cameras exist but are often broken or unutilized. Driving while talking on a cell phone is illegal and is one of the few traffic offenses that may be enforced.

If involved in an accident, drivers are expected to leave the vehicle exactly where the accident occurred and stay at the scene until police arrive to take a report, even though the wait may be hours. If the driver leaves before the police arrive, s/he will be found at fault and could be charged with leaving the scene of an accident. It is not uncommon for roads to be blocked by a minor accident while waiting for the police. Most international companies outside of Paramaribo provide medical support, including medevac, to employees in case of accidents.

In traffic, always attempt to leave space in which to maneuver. Be prepared to take evasive action. If you are being followed/harassed by another driver, try to find the nearest police station, hotel, or other public facility to call the police. Never lead the person to your home or stop and get out.

Public Transportation Conditions

The use of public transportation (mini-buses) by visitors unfamiliar with the country is highly discouraged. Traveling by public transportation, especially outside of Paramaribo, can be very dangerous. The three highways leading out of Paramaribo are often the sites of horrendous accidents, usually due to speeding and often involving buses or vans transporting passengers. The use of reputable taxis, however, is generally acceptable.

Terrorism Threat

THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED PARAMARIBO AS BEING A LOW-THREAT LOCATION FOR TERRORIST ACTIVITY DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.

Local, Regional, and International Terrorism Threats/Concerns

There are no indications that any international/transnational terrorist groups are in Suriname. There are no known indigenous terrorist groups in Suriname. Suriname is a non-aligned country with no significant enemies and is not targeted by any known radical groups. 

Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence

THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED PARAMARIBO AS BEING A LOW-THREAT LOCATION FOR POLITICAL VIOLENCE DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.

Civil Unrest

Protests organized by anti-government groups and labor unions are very common but are generally not well attended or disruptive.

Post-specific Concerns

Environmental Hazards

Flooding regularly occurs in Paramaribo during the “big” rainy seasons (May-August, November-February). Many roads flood, and driving can be extremely difficult and dangerous. Paramaribo has many canals, and, during the worst of the flooding, drivers are unable to determine where roads end and canals begin. Due to poor drainage, flooding can last for days.

Over 90% of the country is largely uninhabited rainforest, and there are natural dangers inherent to that.

Critical Infrastructure

The government would likely approach the UNDP, the U.S., French, and Dutch embassies for guidance and assistance should a major emergency occur.

Economic Concerns

Visitors are advised to make every attempt to change currency at hotels, local banks, or official cambios. Visitors are strongly discouraged from exchanging currency on the street, which is dangerous and illegal.

Privacy Concerns

There is concern among some media workers and others that their communications and movements may be monitored.

Drug-related Crimes

Suriname is a transit zone for cocaine en route to Europe and Africa. In 2016, there was a significant increase in narcotics trafficking to the U.S.

There have been sporadic instances of narcotics-related violence (assassinations, drive-by shootings) between individuals associated with competing drug trafficking organizations.

Kidnapping Threat

Kidnapping is relatively rare. Of those that have occurred, many are related to personal or business conflicts. There have been no kidnappings involving foreign victims reported to the U.S. Embassy.

Police Response

Police officials frequently a cite lack of resources, staff, and basic equipment and low morale as reasons for widely varying response times and unresolved crimes. Police response, especially at night, is a rarity for all but the most serious crimes. 

How to Handle Incidents of Police Detention or Harassment

Visitors should report incidents to the U.S. Embassy Duty Officer as soon as possible. If arrested/detained, ensure that the police understand that you are a U.S. citizen and ask the police to contact the U.S. Embassy 472-900 during working hours or the U.S. Embassy Duty Officer (710-1112) after working hours. If calling from the U.S., dial 011-597-710-1112.

Crime Victim Assistance

Police and medical emergencies: 115
Operators may not speak English.

Crimes can be reported in person or over the phone during business hours to any of the below police stations:

Paramaribo

Keizerstraat Station (Central Paramaribo)

Keizerstraat 23

Tel: (011) 597 471-111 / 477-777

Nieuwe Haven Station (Paramaribo South)

Havenlaan

Tel: (011) 597 403-101 / 403-508 / 402-656 / 404-022 / 401-025 / 404-943

Geyersvlijt Station (Paramaribo North)

Basitostraat

Tel: (011) 597 451-677 / 453-570 / 451-222 / 453-748

Latour Station

Indira Ghandiweg / Tamanoeastraat

Tel: (011) 597 481-524 / 483-547

Livorno Station

Sir Winston Churchillweg

Tel: (011) 597 481-941 / 483-400

Uitvlugt Station

Kasabaholoweg

Tel: (011) 597 498-573 / 435-392

Outside of Paramaribo

Lelydorp Station

Tel: T(011) 597 366-785 / 366-116

Zanderij Station

Tel: (011) 597 325-222

Brokopondo Station

Tel: (011) 597 880-4611

Coronie Station

Tel: (011) 597 235-122 / 235-123

Nickerie Station

Tel: (011) 597 231-530 / 231-222

Moengo Station

Tel: (011) 597 341-321 / via Suralco 341-280

Albina Station

Tel: (011) 597 342-080 / 342-077

Victims of crimes can also contact the “Bureau Slachtofferzorg” (Victim’s Assistance Office), Ministry of Justice and Police, Keizerstraat 155, Phone/Fax # (597) 424-016, opening hours: Mon-Fri 8:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Police/Security Agencies

There are three major law enforcement/security entities in Suriname:

The largest in size is the Korps Politie Suriname (KPS). This is a traditional police department model and is responsible for all policing efforts. The KPS has three branches: 1) the city police handle all issues inside the city limits of Paramaribo; 2) the rural police handle everything outside of Paramaribo; and 3) the judicial police are specialized police units (forensics, fraud, homicide).

The second largest is the Military Police, a branch of the Surinamese Armed Forces that polices all members of the military and handles border control/immigration functions. Military Police routinely ride in KPS patrol cars to provide additional manpower.

The third largest entity is the Surinamese Bureau of National Security, which is responsible for the Central Intelligence and Security Service (CIVD) and the presidential personal security unit. 

Medical Emergencies

Police and medical emergencies: 115
Operators may not speak English. 

Travelers should be aware that medical standards are below what is expected in the U.S. Traditional ambulance services are unreliable, difficult to contact, and often require upfront cash payments before transporting patients. They cannot be relied upon in case of emergency. For life threatening emergencies, private vehicles or taxis are the best option for transportation to the hospital.

Contact Information for Available Medical Services

The Academic Hospital (Tel: (011) 597 442-222) is the best equipped and most commonly used for responding to medical emergencies and trauma. It is located about 15 minutes from downtown Paramaribo and has adequately trained staff and equipment to stabilize before medical evacuation can be arranged.

St. Vincentius Hospital (at Koninginne 4, Centruum, in the northern part of Paramaribo, Tel: (011) 597 471-212) has an emergency ward with limited hours and much more limited capabilities.

Diakonessenhuis Hospital (Zinniastraat, Flora, Tel: (011) 597 427-288) does not offer emergency services.

Available Air Ambulance Services

Hi Jet Helicopters operates an air ambulance service from the Zorg En Hoop airport in Paramaribo. Hi Jet can retrieve patients from anywhere in the country that a helicopter can land and transport them to one of the hospitals in Paramaribo. Companies wishing to use this service should have a guarantee letter on file with the company or expect to pay in cash before a patient is transported.

Tel: (011) 597 531-933, (011) 597 432-577, Fax: (011) 597 432-556

Emergency (011) 597 881-1230, (011) 597 718-0008

Country-specific Vaccination and Health Guidance

The CDC offers additional information on vaccines and health guidance for Suriname.

OSAC Country Council Information

There is currently no active Country Council in Paramaribo. Please contact OSAC’s Western Hemisphere team if you are interested in private-sector engagement in Paramaribo or have questions about OSAC’s Country Council programs.

U.S. Embassy Location and Contact Information

Embassy Address and Hours of Operation

Suriname 165 Kristalstraat Paramaribo, Suriname
Business hours: Mon-Fri, 0730-1600

Embassy Contact Numbers

U.S. Embassy Operator: (011) 597 472-900

VOIP: 202-609-9890 or 202-609-9765

U.S. Embassy Duty Officer (emergencies only, afterhours): (011) 597 710-1112

Fax (Admin/Primary): (597) 410-972

American Citizen Services (emergencies only): x2236

Regional Security Office: x2262, x2066, or x2065

Political/Economic Section: x 2205, x2208, or x2209

Website: http://suriname.usembassy.gov/

Additional Resources

Suriname Country Information Sheet