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Suriname 2018 Crime & Safety Report

Western Hemisphere > Suriname; Western Hemisphere > Suriname > Paramaribo

According to the current U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory at the date of this report’s publication, Suriname has been assessed as Level 1: exercise normal precautions.

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 American Citizens’ Services unit (ACS) 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 page for original OSAC reporting, consular messages, and contact information, some of which may be available only to private-sector representatives with an OSAC password.

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

Crime Threats

Crime is a major concern. The police and press report that overall crime levels are increasing, with violent crimes increasing at a far greater level. Murders, residential/business robberies, carjackings, burglaries, and muggings occurred regularly in 2017. Street crime, including thefts of backpacks, purses, jewelry (particularly necklaces), and cell phones, are regular occurrences. Tourist areas are common targets for thieves and muggers, who frequently strike at night. A steep increase in these types of crimes tends to occur around the December/January holidays.

There are no areas of Paramaribo that can be considered completely safe. Criminals move without restriction into and out of neighborhoods where expatriates live, often utilizing scooters or motorcycles to evade police. Armed robberies and armed home invasions occurred within one block of Embassy residences. There were also reports of guard dogs being poisoned in order to facilitate burglaries. There have not been any confirmed reports of burglaries at homes where official Americans reside or at homes that employ 24-hour residential security guards.

Criminals often carry firearms or other weapons and will use them, especially if victims resist. In 2017, a visiting French diplomat was seriously injured after resisting a robbery attempt. Handgun permits are very difficult to obtain, but many criminals have handguns. Shotguns, the only firearms normally owned by civilians, are also frequently used in the commission of crimes. Although illegal, gun traps are used for hunting purposes in the interior.

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 (restaurants, bars, gyms, pools). Several expatriates were robbed at gun point while walking in close proximity to popular hotels.

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

Areas of Concern

It is advised that visitors avoid walking in the Paramaribo downtown area and the Palmentuin (Palm Garden) after dark, as these areas are often used by criminals targeting foreigners.

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

Transportation Safety Situation

For more information, please review OSAC’s Report, “Security in Transit: Airplanes, Public Transport, and Overnights.”

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 always have the right-of-way, as they are considered pedestrians according to local law.

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

If involved in an accident, drivers are expected to leave the vehicle exactly where the accident occurred and stay at the scene until the 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 as the involved drivers wait for the police to arrive. Most international companies located outside of Paramaribo provide medical support, including medevac services, to employees in case of accidents.

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 involve 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

In July 2017, the media reported that two individuals had been arrested by Surinamese police due to ties with ISIS. These individuals are awaiting trial and have not been convicted. 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. There is no specific threat information concerning U.S. private sector organizations in Suriname.

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 several days.

Should a major emergency take place again, the government would likely approach the UNDP and the U.S., French, and Dutch embassies for guidance and assistance.

Over 80% of the country is largely uninhabited rainforest, which yields related dangers such as hazardous flora and fauna, vector-borne diseases, gun traps, insufficient medical infrastructure, difficulty of extraction/rescue, and drug-trafficking and other criminal enterprises, often associated with the illegal gold mining occurring in the interior. For more information, please review OSAC’s Report “When Wildlife Attacks.”

Privacy Concerns

There is concern among some media professionals and others that their communications and movement may be being monitored.

Drug-related Crimes

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

There have been sporadic instances of narcotics-related violence between individuals associated with competing drug trafficking organizations. These have included assassinations and drive-by shootings.

Kidnapping Threat

Kidnapping is a relatively rare occurrence. Of the kidnappings 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. For more information, please review OSAC’s Report, “Kidnapping: The Basics.”

Police Response

Police officials frequently cite lack of resources, staff, and basic equipment, as well as low morale, as reasons for law enforcement’s unsolved crimes and widely varying response times. 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 (556-700) during working hours or the U.S. Embassy Duty Officer (710-1112) after hours. If calling from the U.S., dial 011-597-710-1112.

Victim Assistance

115 is a general emergency number for police and medical emergencies. 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:

Inside 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) at the Ministry of Justice and Police (Keizerstraat 155, Phone/Fax: (597) 424-016). Hours are Mon-Fri, 0800-1430.

Police/Security Agencies

There are three major law enforcement/security entities in Suriname. The largest is the Korps Politie Suriname (KPS). This is a traditional police department model and is responsible for all policing efforts. The KPS has five branches: 1) the Paramaribo Region police handle all issues inside the city limits of Paramaribo; 2) the Western Region police handle all issues in Districts Saramacca, Coronie, and Nickerie; 3) the Mid Region police handle all issues in Districts Para, Wanica, and Brokopondo; 4) the East Region police handle all issues in Districts Commewijne, Marowijne, and Sipaliwini; and 5) an investigative and special unit section (i.e. forensics, fraud, homicide, etc.). Military personnel and prison guards are routinely assigned to ride in KPS patrol cars throughout Suriname to provide additional manpower.

The second largest law enforcement/security entity is the Military Police, a branch of the Surinamese Armed Forces that polices all members of the military and handles border control/immigration functions.

The third largest law enforcement/security entity is the National Security Organization (DNV), which is responsible for the protection of the president and ministers and coordinates internal security and intelligence efforts. 

Medical Emergencies

115 is the number for medical and police emergencies. 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

For medical assistance, please refer to the Embassy’s Medical Assistance page.

Available Air Ambulance Services

Both of the following operate air services from the Zorg En Hoop airport in Paramaribo:

Gum Air (Tel: (011) 597 433-000/(011) 597 860-1318)

Pegasus (Tel: (011) 597 498-760/(011) 597 432-057)

Pegasus can retrieve individuals from anywhere a helicopter can land and transport them to Paramaribo. Companies wishing to use this service should have a guarantee letter on file with the company or expect to pay in cash before individuals are transported.

Insurance Guidance

Medical evacuation insurance and plans should be organized in advance.

CDC Country-Specific Vaccination and Health Guidance

Some travelers have been asked to show proof of yellow fever vaccination before being allowed to enter Suriname. The CDC offers additional information on vaccines and health guidance for Suriname.

OSAC Country Council Information

There is no Country Council in Suriname. Interested private-sector security managers should contact OSAC’s Western Hemisphere team with any questions.

U.S. Embassy Location and Contact Information

Embassy Address and Hours of Operation

165 Kristalstraat, Paramaribo, Suriname

Business Hours: Mon-Fri, 0730 to 1600.

Embassy Contact Numbers

U.S. Embassy Operator: (011) 597 556-700

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

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

Website: https://sr.usembassy.gov/

Embassy Guidance

U.S. citizens traveling to Suriname should register with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to ensure they receive pertinent security updates and notices.

Additional Resources

Suriname Country Information Sheet