Honduran Justice is Partial and Ineffective Against Human Rights Violations

Hearings Before the IACHR

Audiencia Honduras Washington, D.C., Tuesday March 23, 2010

The killings, abductions, and harassment continue to occur in Honduras during the administration of current President Porfirio Lobo. The court proves to be very effective and hard to prosecute opponents of the coup of June 28, 2009, but very slow and in favor for human rights violators connected with the coup.

This was made clear on March 23 when a group of Honduran lawyers and human rights defenders denounced these acts during a hearing before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).

"In the new government (since January 27) there have been six people killed for alleged political motivations. To this list, it adds up several kidnappings, dozens of threats, harassment, and other actions. Unfortunately to date, both the Supreme Court as well as the Public Prosecutor, have declined to fulfill their duty to guarantee human rights" said Marcia Aguiluz, attorney with the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL).

Among those killed there are included three journalists. One of them, Mr. Nahúm Palacios, was the beneficiary of protection measures ordered by the IACHR because of threats he had received; measures that were never implemented.

Nevertheless, in a context of systematic violations of human rights, the Supreme Court and the Public Prosecutor are acting in an inefficient, biased, and discriminatory way against opponents of the coup.

Thousands of illegal and arbitrary detentions which should have been investigated by the Public Prosecutor office remain unpunished. From 87 documented resources until October by the Center for Research and Promotion of Human Rights (CIPRODEH), none worked. The same has happened with allegations of torture, abuse, intimidation and injury, as Rodezno Nectalí, from Front Bar Association (Frente de Abogados), alleged.

In another example, the Front Bar Association represents 111 people indicted for various crimes because of their participation in peaceful opposition demonstrations, and of these, 73 continue to be prosecuted, five remain in prison and another six have arrest warrants.

The biased conduct of the judicial body is evident when peaceful demonstrators were allegedly committed serious crimes such as terrorism, conspiracy or sedition, while the actions of military coup leaders who have committed human rights violations are classified as "abuse of authority" .

For the perpetrators of human rights violations, the law has been so benevolent. Proceedings against six State commanders who led the coup ended with a final dismissal in favor of the military.

The officers of the Armed Forces who raided radio and TV stations, in the context of censorship and harassment of media critical of the coup, were also definitively dismissed because, according to the judges, they "acted under a constitutional duty."

For the petitioners, it is clear that the coup in Honduras exacerbated institutional weaknesses. In this sense, the behavior of most prosecutors and judges arises from the lack of independence.

Brenda Vianney, from the Front of Resistance Lawyers in the North Zone (Frente de Abogados en Resistencia de la Zona Norte) and the Broad Movement for Dignity and Justice (Movimiento Amplio por la Dignidad y la Justicia), asked the IACHR a strong wake-up call to the authorities of the State of Honduras to end the human rights violations.

Meanwhile, the President of the IACHR, Felipe González, reported that they already requested a visit to the Honduran authorities in order to monitor the human rights situation in the country.

The hearing also included participation from other lawyers from the Center for Prevention, Treatment, and Rehabilitation of Torture Victims and Their Families (CPTRT); Front Attorneys Lawyers and Resistance to the coup of the North Zone, and CIPRODEH.


Press contact in Washington D.C.: Mauricio Herrera (202) 319-3000. mherrera@cejil.org

The Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) is an advocacy of human rights in the Americas. CEJIL's main objective is to ensure full implementation of international human rights standards in the Member States of the Organization of American States (OAS), through the effective use of the Inter-american human rights system and other international protection mechanisms. CEJIL is a nongovernmental nonprofit with consultative status at the OAS, the Organization of the United Nations (UN) and observer status with the African Commission on Human Rights.