San José, November 11, 2015.- The Inter-American Court of Human Rights (I-A Court) published a sentence in the López Lone and others vs Honduras case yesterday in favor of three judges and a magistrate who, in their fight for democracy and rule of law, were dismissed from their positions for dissenting against the coup that took place June 28, 2009 in Honduras.
In 2010, judges Adán Guillermo López Lone, Luis Alonso Chévez de la Rocha and Ramón Enrique Barrios Maldonado, as well as Tirza del Carmen Flores Lanza,were subjected to arbitrary disciplinary proceses and subsequently dismissed from their charges for publicy defending democracy and the rule of law in Honduras. The Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) y la Asociación de Jueces por la Democracia (AJD) represented the victims before the Inter-American Commission and Corte of Human Rights.
This is the first time the Inter-American Court issues a verdict where the State's democratic rupture of 2009 is explicitly stated. Moreover, the sentence affirms that "The plenary of the Supreme Court of Justice participated in the Coup, defending the legality of ex-president Zelaya's privation of freedom." Furthermore, this is also the first time the Court issues a decision on the right to political participation, freedom of expression and right to assembly for persons who serve judicial functions.
Given this context, the I-A Court recognized that the actions of the judges and magistrate "corresponded not only to the exercise of a right but to duty to defend democracy" and that "there may be situations where a judge as a citizen of the society, believes it has a moral duty to express themselves." The Court went even further, highlighting that the restriction of partisan activitives perceived to correspond to a specific political party cannot be used so broadly to the extent that it impedes judges from participating in any type of political act.
Given the decision, the judges and magistrate stated "Finally, the main court of human rights on the continent has recognized that our actions were not only legitimate but also important for the defense of democracy and, consequently, of human rights in the country." Furthermore , they added that the decision "is a precedent for the authorities to rectify over other illegal dismissals today , opening the door for other aggrieved judges and judges go to the Court."
Finally, the I-A Court found the State of Honduras responsible for the violation of freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, political rights, freedom of association, a fair trial, judicial protection, the right to remain in office under conditions of equality and the principle of legality. It established that the State of Honduras reinstate López Lone, Flores Lanza and Chévez de la Rocha to similar positions to those held at the time of their dismissal, with the same pay, benefits and rank.
"This sentence is an opportunity for the State of Honduras revisit the disciplinary system in the light of the standards set by the Court," said Marcia Aguiluz, CEJIL Program Director for Central America and Mexico. "It is important to guarantee the stability of judges and independent and impartial justice for all Hondurans."
Read the full sentence here