Suriname’s amendment of gender discriminatory nationality laws an example to follow
The Draft Law on Nationality and Residency (“the Law”) passed by Suriname’s National Assembly on 10 July 2014 not only reverses decades of gender discrimination in nationality laws but will reduce the risk of statelessness.
The Law brings Suriname’s nationality law in line with article 9(1) and 9(2) of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), by giving women equal rights with men to pass on their nationality to their children and to acquire, retain or confer nationality if they get married or divorced. The reform of Suriname’s law was recommended by the CEDAW Committee in 2007, and also by Brazil and Mexico during the Universal Periodic Review of Suriname in 2011.
“The International Campaign to End Gender Discrimination hopes Suriname will serve as an example to the other 27 countries that discriminate against mothers by not allowing them to pass on their nationality to their children on an equal basis as fathers and more than 60 countries that deny women equal rights with men to acquire, change, or pass on their nationality to their husbands,” said campaign steering committee member Amal de Chickera.
He added: “We hope Suriname will serve as a catalyst for further state action in the build up to the Beijing +20 review at the Commission on the Status of Women in March 2015, an event that will mark 20 years since all states pledged to remove gender discrimination from all their laws, and 10 years since the 2005 target date that was set for the achievement of this goal.”
Specifically, this Law amends Law No. 4 of 24 November 1975 on Surinamese Nationality and Residence and removes the gender discriminatory aspects of the 1975 law, in addition to including important protection against statelessness. In particular:
- A child is now granted Surinamese nationality automatically if their father or mother is Surinamese at the time of their birth.
- All differentiations between men and women with respect to the acquisition and loss of nationality have been removed.
- Surinamese nationality will not be lost or deprived where this would lead to statelessness.
In light of these positive developments, it is hoped Suriname will now implement the new law in an effective and non-discriminatory manner. The country is also invited to champion the global campaign to end gender discriminatory nationality laws, including by using its diplomatic offices to convince other states of the benefits of amending gender-discriminatory nationality laws. It is also hoped that Suriname will accede to the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness.
- To read a copy of the Law (in Dutch) click here.
- To read a legal analysis of the law by the Equal Rights Trust, click here.
- To read CEDAW click here.