Tegucigalpa, Honduras, April 20, 2010
On April 21, in Tegucigalpa, began the seminar "Human Rights and Judicial Independence." International experts that participated in this activity, including the Special Rapporteur of the United Nations on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Gabriela Carina Knaul Albuquerque e Silva, pondered upon the weaknesses that currently characterize the Honduran judiciary, as well as the implications this has for the protection of human rights.
The need for the seminar arose from the lack of independence that characterized the behavior of the judiciary during and after the coup of June 28, 2009. The event aims to generate a broad discussion of the importance of judicial independence, which is a fundamental condition for the democratic system. However, this condition is nowadays being threatened in the context of human rights violations, generated by the breakdown of rule of law, as happened during the coup.
"In the judiciary the applicability of the Judicial Career Law is illusory. It is particularly worrying the uniqueness of public tenders to enter the judicial career, which means that the selection and appointment of judges and magistrates are done on a discretionary basis. Similarly, the promotion to a senior position lacks calls for candidates. On the other hand, stability is not guaranteed and often there are removals or cancellations without any just cause, particularly with the judges that are uncomfortable for the administrative hierarchy. All these circumstances directly affect the independence of the judiciary" explained Guillermo López Lone, President of the Association of Judges for Democracy.
The seminar, which ended on April 23, was organized by the Association of Judges for Democracy (AJD) and the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL). Other international experts who participated were Perfecto Andrés Ibañez, Judge of the Supreme Court of Spain; Gerónimo Sansó, Judge of the Court of Appeals of Buenos Aires and President of the Latin American Federation of Judges for Democracy; Luigi Marini, Judge of the Court of Criminal Cassation of Italy; José Pedro Baranita, Member of the Union of Magistrates of the Public Ministry of Portugal; and Luis Guillermo Pérez Casas, Secretary General of the International Federation of Human Rights.
It is expected that at the end of the activity there is a reform proposal to the Judicial Career Law and the Judicial Council, as well as a list of ethical principles of judicial independence that can serve as inputs to state authorities for the reforms needed.
Marcia Aguiluz, CEJIL lawyer, stressed out the importance of addressing this problem to strengthen the judicial body whose proper functioning is vital for the protection of human rights in Honduras. "The independence and impartiality of the judiciary are essential to democratic rule," highlighted the specialist in international law.
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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.