Constitution & governance
Suriname used to be a country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands until 25 November 1975. In 1975 Suriname became an independent country. Between 1954 and 1975 Suriname was administered by a governor appointed by and representing the Dutch crown, with a cabinet appointed by the governor and an elected parliament (Staten van Suriname). Nowadays, the government consists of a 51-member National Assembly, directly elected by the people for a five-year term. The executive branch (the Cabinet) consists of the President, Vice President and the Council of Ministers, officially formed by the President but chaired by the Vice – President. There is also an appointed Council of State, a mandatory advisory body for the legislators, officially chaired by the President, although he is de facto not attending the meetings that are chaired by the Vice – Chairman appointed by the President.
In 1975 the country adopted a constitution that was based on the constitution of The Netherlands. On the 30th of September 1987 Suriname adopted a new constitution, following a referendum, which was the basis for the constitutional democratic republic it is now. The 1987 Constitution also called for the establishment of an independent Constitutional Court, which is, however, not yet installed. Further, the Constitution provides the right to a fair public trial before a single judge, the right to counsel, and the right to appeal. There is a Court of Justice whose members are nominated for life, and there are three Cantonal Courts.