IACHR PUBLISHES OBSERVATIONS ON FOLLOW-UP VISIT TO HONDURAS
Lima, Peru, June 7, 2010—The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) today published its Preliminary Observations on the visit it carried out to Honduras on May 15-18, 2010, to follow up on its August 2009 on-site visit and its report Honduras: Human Rights and the Coup d'État.
During the May 2010 visit, the Commission verified that human rights violations continue in the context of the coup d'état. The IACHR received information on the murder of a number of persons, including journalists and human rights defenders. In addition, human rights defenders, journalists, social communicators, teachers, trade union members, and members of the Resistance are subject to threats and harassment.
The IACHR believes that the complaints received could correspond to the same pattern of violence begun in the context of the coup d'état. The murders, threats, and acts of harassment are not investigated in a way that would make it possible to clarify whether or not they are related to the context of the coup d'état.
In this regard, the Commission was able to verify that impunity for human rights violations continues, both in terms of violations verified in the IACHR report as well as those in the March 3, 2010, report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. The Commission was informed that only one person is being held in custody for human rights violations, while another 12 individuals have been charged but the cases are not moving forward, among other reasons due to the lack of investigation by the various State bodies, particularly the security forces handling the investigations. The generalized impunity for human rights violations is facilitated by decisions of the Supreme Court of Justice that weaken the rule of law. In addition to the Supreme Court's disputed role during the coup d’état, it subsequently decided, on the one hand, to dismiss charges against the members of the military accused of participating in the coup and, on the other, to dismiss judges and magistrates who sought to prevent the coup through democratic means.
The IACHR has also granted a number of precautionary measures to protect persons at risk. Both civil society organizations as well as the beneficiaries themselves have reported serious problems in the implementation of the precautionary measures. For example, journalist Nahúm Palacios was a beneficiary of these protection measures when he was killed on March 14, 2010. The Commission urges the State of Honduras to comply effectively and as soon as possible with each of the precautionary measures granted by the IACHR.
The IACHR again calls on the authorities to review the Amnesty Decree, taking into account the State's obligations in light of international treaties and especially its obligation to investigate and punish serious human rights violations.
The Commission welcomes the appointment of the advisory Minister on human rights. However, it notes that to date she has not received the resources, mandate, or structure that would make it possible to do an effective job, one that helps transform the State toward a culture that is respectful of human rights. With the current structure, it is practically impossible for the Minister to have a significant impact on the observance of human rights.
In its Preliminary Observations, the IACHR denounced the militarization of society that has resulted from the coup d'état. In this regard, it views with concern the fact that high-ranking Army officers or former members of the Army who have been accused of participating in the coup are holding high-level management positions in public offices in the government of Porfirio Lobo. For example, Division General Venancio Cervantes is Director General of the Bureau of Migration and Alien Affairs(he was Deputy Head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the time of the coup d'état); Brigade General Manuel Enrique Cáceres is Director of Civil Aeronautics; former General Nelson Wily Mejía is in charge of the Bureau of the Merchant Marine; and former General Romeo Vásquez Velásquez (who was Commander in Chief of the Air Force at the time of the coup) is now head of the Honduran Telecommunications Company (Empresa Hondureña de Telecomunicaciones, Hondutel).
The IACHR, a principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who act in a personal capacity, without representing a particular country, and who are elected by the OAS General Assembly.
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