Reporters Without Borders is very worried about the telephone threats that reporter Ivan Cairo of the Paramaribo-based daily De Ware Tijd received on 7 November in connection with several articles about the unexplained disappearance of 90 kg of cocaine from a police station after it was seized. Cairo is also the Reporters Without Borders Surinam correspondent.
“We condemn these threats and we ask the authorities to take all necessary measures to protect Cairo,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We also urge them to investigate the origin of these threats in order to reassure all Surinamese journalists who cover such sensitive subjects. Without a free press, it is impossible to combat drug trafficking and corruption.”
Justice and police minister Chandrikapersad Santokhi and attorney general Subhaas Punwasi have been told about the threats.
“I received a message on my office phone warning me to watch out,” Cairo told Reporters Without Borders. “I don’t know who wants to scare me because I did not name anyone in my articles.” He added that he has been in touch with the attorney-general but has not yet received any protection from the authorities.
Surinam was ranked 42nd out of 175 countries in the 2009 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index. The situation there is nowadays satisfactory even if there are cases still unresolved from the Desi Bouterse dictatorship (1980-1991), when several opposition journalists were murdered.