During an interview concerning the LGBT community in Suriname we presented Surinamese Minister of Justice Jennifer van Dijk-Silos with a screenshot of a death threat directed towards the transgender transsexual Yvanna Hilton. The death threat had been made via a Facebook post that appeared on Yvanna’s profile wall, the post had also included a picture of a bullet and stated that the entire police force would be hunting her down. Prior to asking minister van Dijk -Silos for a reaction she explaining how her ministry is writing a law proposal that if passed would give clear guidelines on what is acceptable under freedom of speech and what would be against the law, this law could for example be used to prosecute Internet users.
After reading the death threat that Yvanna had received, minister van Dijk-Silos instructed her staff to contact police chief Agnes Daniel and start an investigation. After the minister gave these instructions we explained that we weren’t sure yet if the Facebook account of the assumed poster was real and hadn’t received a response from the user in regards to our interview request. At the time, the death threat post appeared to have been posted by police officer M.K. When looking through her Facebook profile we found a photo of her in a Surinamese police uniform. But, when we took a closer look at the profile picture in the screenshot and compared that with the profile picture on Facebook, we saw that they weren’t the same. We believe someone made a screenshot of the profile versus downloading it. They then created a Facebook under Officer M.K.’s name and placed the death threat on Hilton’s profile wall.
Start of investigation
On Saturday, minister van Dijk-Silos called her staff together in regards to the death threat. Afterwards Yvanna was contacted and invited to the police headquarters to file a police report at the offices of their internal investigations unit or ‘Onderzoek Politie Zaken’ (OPZ). Kevin P. Roberson was contacted by inspector B. and was invited as well. Inspector B. explained that they wanted to know how he obtained the screenshots of the death threat. They agreed to meet the following day. This would also be the first time that Roberson would meet with Yvanna since being in the country.
After arriving at the offices of OPZ, Roberson spoke with a male officer while Yvanna was taken into another room with a female officer. Roberson was then asked to explain what his reason was for being in Suriname and what he had done during his visit. He explained that prior to traveling to Suriname he obtained a work visa via the Surinamese Consulate in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. In order to receive the visa he submitted copies of his tickets, provided the address of where he would be staying, a copy of his chamber of commerce registration and the correspondents he had had with the different individuals that he would be interviewing. After providing this information he received a 90-day work visa.
He explained to the police that he had come to Suriname to make a documentary about the LGBT community. Along with minister van Dijk-Silos he had interviewed Winti expert Julien Zaalman, cultural anthropologist Carla Bakboord, Juan Pigot of PAREA, Faisel Jong A Loi the director of LGBT Platform Suriname, Attorney Audrey Tjong A Sie, Yvanna Hilton the director of Trans In Action, Tiffany K. and Alex who is a member of the indigenous peoples of Suriname.