Report of the Commission on High Level on the Situation in Honduras

Posted on July 12, 2010

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The full report can be found here.

In pursuance of resolution AG / RES. 2531 (XL-O/10)

REPORT OF THE COMMISSION ON HIGH LEVEL THE SITUATION IN HONDURAS

ESTABLISHMENT AND ACTIVITIES

1 .- On June 8, 2010, the General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) adopted a Resolution on the Situation in Honduras [AG / Res. 2531 (XL-O/10)], through which he determined: a) The formation of a high-level commission whose members are appointed by the Secretary General to analyze the situation referred to in resolution AG / RES. 1 (XXXVII-E/09) and b) The High Level Commission shall, not later than July 30, 2010, its recommendations to the General Assembly. [See Annex 1]

2 .- In pursuance of the decision by the General Assembly on 17 June, the Secretary General appointed a High Level Commission composed of representatives of two South American countries, two of Central America, one of CARICOM and two North American . With the later addition of three other countries and an open invitation to other Central American countries, the Commission was composed of the OAS Permanent Representatives of the following countries: Argentina, Bahamas, Belize, Canada, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, United States, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru and Dominican Republic.

3 .- At the time, the Commission made the that are described below:

3.1. Heard the representative of the Government of Honduras, Mr. Arturo Corrales, Minister of Planning, on 18 and 23 June, receiving the documentation is entered in the detailed annexes in the text this report.

3.2. Reviewed the legal opinion that gave the President of the Inter-American Juridical Committee, Mr. Guillermo Fernandez de Soto “personal capacity” and Secretary of Legal Affairs of the OAS, Mr. Jean Michel Arrighi, who traveled to Honduras from 25 to June 26 to gather information on site-with the relevant authorities – on the legal status of former President José Manuel Zelaya Rosales in the country.

3.3. Received the report of the Secretary General and Secretary for Political Affairs, Mr. Victor Rico on the meeting with former President Zelaya and his representatives, Mr. Jorge Arturo Reina and Mr. Rodolfo Pastor, in Santo Domingo on 1 and 2 July and the meeting with the President of Honduras, Mr. Porfirio Lobo Sosa, in Miami on July 5 as part of the work of the Commission.

3.4. He was the representative of former President Zelaya, Rodolfo Pastor, on July 7.

3.5-obtained the opinion of the President of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), Mr. Felipe González and the Executive Secretary of the IACHR, Mr. Santiago Canton, as well as the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, Ms. Catherine Botero, 16 July on the actions that the Government of Honduras should be undertaken to improve the situation in this crucial aspect. [See Annex 2]
3.6. Mr. Rodolfo Pastor sent on 12 July this Committee a document signed on behalf of former President Zelaya. [See Annex 3].

3.7. He was the representative of the Government of Honduras, Mr. Arturo Corrales, who gave the Commission more complete history of all court cases involving former President Zelaya. The release of this information was held on 13 July. [See Annex 4]
3.8. On 15 July, the Secretary General met with President of the Republic of Ecuador and President Pro Tempore of the UNASUR, Mr. Rafael Correa, to discuss the work of the High Level Commission. On 16 July the Secretary-General reported this to the Commission. At the meeting the Secretary General with President Rafael Correa, he raised his strong opposition to a possible return of Honduras to the OAS while staying a situation of impunity for the perpetrators of the coup, especially in regard to abuses human rights, noting that a solution that does not contemplate this point or at least a clear procedure to deal with it would not be acceptable to his government. The Permanent Mission of the Republic of Ecuador to the OAS subsequently handed a note. [See Annex 5]

3.9. On 21 July, the Secretary-General reported to the Commission for assistance, at the invitation of President of El Salvador, Mr. Mauricio Funes, the Special Summit of SICA held in San Salvador on 20 July. The Summit was attended by Heads of State and Government of Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica and Panama, and the Deputy Prime Minister of Belize and the Dominican Republic Vice President. During the Summit, the Secretary made a presentation on the work undertaken by the High Commission. On the occasion of this meeting, the leaders signed a Special Declaration on Honduras that includes a request that “the states of the Organization of American States in the framework of the High Level Commission of the OAS, to expedite and resolve earliest possible return of Honduras within the OAS, while reiterating the call to the authorities of Honduras for the purpose of ensuring the full enjoyment of fundamental rights to all its citizens. “[See Annex 6].

3.10. The Commission received on 22 July the Human Rights Minister assisting the Government of Honduras, Mrs. Ana Pineda and the Special Prosecutor for Human Rights Attorney General of Honduras, Ms. Sandra Ponce, who reported extensively on their work and on current human rights situation in Honduras. They deliver two documents, including a summary of general information about allegations of human rights violations that the Public Ministry received after the coup and a report on the status of specific cases of violations of freedom of expression and human rights and corruption that took place during the de facto regime. [See Annex 7]

BACKGROUND

1 .- June 28, 2009 occurred a coup against the constitutional Government of Honduras and arbitrary detention and deportation of the Constitutional President José Manuel Zelaya Rosales was an unconstitutional alteration of the democratic order.

2 .- On June 28, 2009, the OAS Permanent Council adopted a resolution (CP / RES. 953) to condemn the coup and called for a special session of the General Assembly. On 30 June, the General Assembly adopted a resolution (AG / RES. 1 (XXXVII-E/09), invoking Article 20 of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, condemning the coup and instruct the Secretary General, “along representatives of several countries, make diplomatic efforts aimed at restoring democracy and the rule of law, and the return of President Zelaya. “On July 4, the Secretary Insulza told the General Assembly on the consultations carried out in Honduras. In Accordingly and in compliance with Article 21 of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, the General Assembly adopted a resolution (AG / RES. 2 (XXXVII-E/09) to “suspend to Honduras from exercising their right of participation in the OAS” and “instruct the Secretary General, along with representatives from several countries duly appointed, to intensify all diplomatic and other initiatives to promote the restoration of President Zelaya.”

3 .- The November 29, 2009 general elections were held in Honduras. According to official data from the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, participation reached 50% and the winner was the National Party’s presidential candidate, Porfirio Lobo, with 53% of the vote, the Liberal Party candidate, Elvin Santos, was 35%. In Congress, composed of 128 deputies, the National Party won 71 seats (55 in the previous legislature) lie that the Liberal Party took 45 (62 in the previous legislature). The other 13 members are divided among the three minority parties: Innovation and Unity Party (3) Democratic Unification Party (4) and Christian Democrats (5).

4.President Lobo took office on January 27, 2010 and immediately passed the amnesty covering political and common crimes related to those involved in the events of June 28, 2009. At the same ceremony announced the formation of a government of national unity and reconciliation with the participation of three former presidential candidates from five political parties registered in the country legally, who participated in the general election in November 2009 and figures for sectors not had supported his candidacy for the Presidency or who had rejected the coup. No representatives of former President Zelaya, since they refused to attend, but part of the cabinet before a person linked to the resistance, Mr. Cesar Ham, president of the Democratic Unification Party, the current Minister Director of the National Agrarian Institute.

5 .- At the same time the Board of the National Congress was formed with the participation of opposition MPs in positions of Vice, including a representative of the Democratic Unification Party, National Front member of the Popular Resistance.

6 .- The same day, January 27 President Lobo gave a pass to former President Zelaya so he could leave the Embassy of Brazil, where he was from the September 21, 2009, and in the company of President Leonel Fernandez, accompanied him to airport where he boarded a plane that flew him to the Dominican Republic.

7 .- June 30, 2010, judges of first instance void left Tegucigalpa trials they considered covered by the amnesty decree.

8 .- The Commission of Truth and Reconciliation was formally installed on May 4, chaired by former Vice President of Guatemala, Eduardo Stein and including the former Minister of Justice of Peru and former Permanent Representative of Peru to the OAS, Ambassador María Zavala, the Canadian Ambassador Michael Kergin, the Rector of the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Honduras, Ms. Julieta Castellanos and former Rector of the University, Mr. Jorge Omar Casco, all persons of national and international prestige and proven track record [see Annex 8]. The Commission’s objective is to clarify what happened before and after June 28, 2009, in order to identify actions that led to a crisis situation and provide recommendations to prevent a recurrence of this situation in the future.

9 .- In relation to information supplied by representatives of the Government of Honduras in the field of human rights, particularly by the Minister Advisor on Human Rights and the Special Prosecutor for Human Rights of the Public Ministry, highlighted the cases of violations freedom of expression, as the closure of newspapers that opposed the coup d’etat (eg, Radio Progreso and Channel 36). [See Annex 9]. As regards corruption cases during the de facto regime, highlighting the case of irregular approval of the concession contract of the Hydroelectric José Cecilio del Valle to the Utility Nacaome, of Italian origin. This case came to light in February this year and prompted the current Congress to create a Special Commission to review the concession, which was approved by the previous Congress. [See Annex 10]
10 .- Notwithstanding the above, both the former President, as the National Resistance Liberal Party and sectors related to it are not considered participants in the current government, openly denounce their actions and even its legitimacy. [See Annex 11] In addition to this, some sectors still maintain that repression against the opposition, especially the resistance and the violation of human rights. They also question the appointment of members of the de facto regime and military officials of the current administration.

ANALYSIS
1 .- The Commission considered, first, the statements issued by countries before and during the session of the OAS General Assembly, determining address four key issues.

1.1-Conditions to make possible a return to former President Zelaya of Honduras and members of his government;

1.2 .- Incorporation of former President Zelaya Central American Parliament (PARLACEN), in his capacity as former Constitutional President of Honduras;

1.3 .- Situation of human rights in Honduras;

1.4-inclusive political dialogue to overcome the crisis of democracy in Honduras.

2 .- The Secretary General went to the Secretary for Political Affairs of the OAS, Mr. Victor Rico, to Santo Domingo in January and July 2 to hear the views of former President Zelaya on the matters outlined in the previous section. To this end, the Secretary-General suggested the former President Zelaya to join him and the two people who would be their representatives to the Commission, Mr. Jorge Arturo Reina and Rodolfo Pastor.

As a result of the meeting produced a bill with the points that former President Zelaya and his representatives wanted to see reflected in any resolution of the crisis: overcoming the present situation of former President Zelaya reaffirmation of the commitment of the State of Honduras to the promotion and protection of human rights mechanisms proposed to strengthen the fight against organized crime and impunity, the extension of the Commission of Truth and Reconciliation; call by President Wolf broad dialogue and the establishment of a Commission OAS to monitor the situation in Honduras. [See Annex 12

3 .- On 5 July, the Secretary General met with President Porfirio Lobo for their reaction to the matters set forth in the minutes. At that meeting, the Chairman Wolf stated the following views:

3.1 Location of former President Zelaya.

i. Trials. The Chairman Wolf presented the course, according to his information, were bringing the proceedings against former President Zelaya, most of which would be in the process of being dismissed under the amnesty. He referred, however, those lawsuits would not be possible to implement this law, under which dismissal involving allegations involve a violation of Article 17 of the Inter-American Convention against Corruption, which is in force in Honduras.

ii .- Central American Parliament (PARLACEN). He agreed with the incorporation of former President Zelaya to that body, saying, however, this was not an issue that depended on him, but was the former President who had to apply for membership to PARLACEN Board to credit the appropriate agency. The latter information was confirmed on July 12 the Secretary General by the President of PARLACEN, Deputy Nicaraguan Jacinto Suarez.

iii .- safety device for former President Zelaya. Lobo President reaffirmed his commitment to provide security to former President Zelaya, by the State of Honduras, as the former President of the Republic.

3.2 Human Rights. The President reiterated his commitment to protecting and promoting human rights and agreed to implement the recommendations of the IACHR. He recalled that for this purpose appointed a Minister for Human Rights Advisory and extended an open invitation to the Inter-American System for Protection of Human Rights. It also welcomed the request for action to strengthen the Special Prosecutor for Human Rights of the Public Ministry and the Office of the Minister for Human Rights Advisor. He noted that in response to a request for cooperation to Spain, a Spanish judge would visit Honduras for the purpose of collaborating with the design of a comprehensive human rights policy. The visit of a Spanish judge took shape a few days later. [See Annex 13].

3.3 Dialogue. The President expressed his willingness to resume dialogue on both political issues and on public safety issues, seeking the support of the OAS in this regard.

3.4 Commission of Truth and Reconciliation. The Chairman expressed his reluctance to reopen the decree on the Commission on Truth and Reconciliation given the situation of the country and also noted that the Commission was autonomous in its decisions and that any changes that might alter its composition should be from herself.

3.5 Support of the OAS. The President agreed to create an accompanying mechanism, noting even his willingness to apply.

4 .- With respect to trials in which the former President Zelaya is accused, the Committee was informed that Congress issued an amnesty decree on January 27, 2010 [see Annex 14]. The Commission was informed that the Public Ministry, through the Attorney-General’s Office issued a statement on June 29, 2010 in which it reported the file of records covered by the amnesty decree and recognizes the right of judges to apply this decree in cases brought to its attention. [See Annex 15]. For its part, the judges of first instance void left Tegucigalpa these trials on June 30, 2010. There are still open trials in two cases in which former President Zelaya is accused, referring to the alleged misuse of resources from the Honduran Social Investment Fund (FHIS). [See Annex 4]

5 .- According to the information provided, there are two processes related to funds transfers made in 2008 for advertising expenses of the Presidency of the Republic, which began just days after the coup against former President, his Ministers the Presidency and Finance and other officials. In these processes the amnesty applied only in part, on the grounds that they include acts of alleged corruption, which would be incompatible with the accession of Honduras to the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption (Article 17).

6.-During the meeting held on 7 July, the Commission discussed with Mr. Rodolfo Pastor about the possibility of appointing a legal representative, the representative of President Zelaya rejected that possibility, because it would mean recognizing the legitimacy of courts of justice have been perpetrators of the coup. This view was later confirmed by former President himself, in telephone conversations with the Secretary-General, stating that it is willing to “get in the hands of their executioners” and recalling that these processes were opened in the days after the coup, just to legitimize that action. According to former President Zelaya, the Prosecutor and the judges who issued the resolutions are the ones who should be revoked.

7.-Following alternatives were considered, including the possibility that, through an attorney appointed by former President Zelaya or by a public defender (whose designation was not challenged by former President Zelaya), was seeking invalidation of these processes, or to consider a moratorium on such cases, or any trial related to events after June 28th until the Commission of Truth and Reconciliation Commission delivered its report.

CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

According to the above, the Commission proposes the following points as a basis for the General Assembly to adopt the resolutions it deems pertinent concerning the status of Honduras:

1 .- The Commission considers it appropriate to end lawsuits over the de facto regime against former President Zelaya and his associates, under the laws of Honduras. In reaching this recommendation, the Commission considered that although the two processes that are pending against former President Zelaya correspond to events with much prior to the coup, these processes and actions of the Prosecutor’s Office were recently formalized after former President Zelaya was overthrown by his duties as president of the country, while allegations made against such as treason, abuse of authority and others, in the midst of negative political climate that followed the coup state. It is clear that the time when trials are living a situation of constitutional breakdown which can not be ignored. Therefore, these allegations are perceived as politically motivated.

2 .- The Commission emphasizes the readiness of President Porfirio Lobo to give the former President Zelaya protection they are entitled to the former Presidents of the Republic in Honduras and recommends that it be implemented once the former President Zelaya return home.

3 .- It is recommended that former President Zelaya request the Board of PARLACEN joining the agency. The Commission considers that the incorporation of former President Zelaya recognize its character as Constitutional President of the Republic of Honduras prior to President Porfirio Lobo.

4 .- The Commission considers that the cooperation extended by the Government of Honduras for the IACHR’s visit last May, the communications sent by the President Lobo the Secretary General on this matter, the subsequent action informed by the Minister Advisory Human Rights and the Special Prosecutor for Human Rights and the presence of an external consultant to investigate crimes against journalists and human rights defenders among others, are positive steps. At the same time, the Commission recognizes the need for concrete action to comply with recommendations of the IACHR, in particular the following:

a) The steady progress in the investigations to clarify the murder of several people, including journalists and defenders of human rights.

b) The adoption of measures to put an end to threats and harassment against human rights defenders, journalists, social communicators, teachers and members of the People’s National Front, the judges who participated in activities against the coup and effectively implement enforcement mechanisms ordered interim measures to protect the lives and safety of many people who are at risk. The Commission received a communication from the Human Rights Advisory Minister advising that the Ministry of Security has created the Human Rights Unit to support the work of the Special Prosecutor for Human Rights.

c) Provide the Interinstitutional Commission on Human Rights in Honduras appropriate staff and resources in order to respond efficiently to the defense of human rights of Hondurans and precautionary measures by the IACHR. The Commission has seen the letter from the Minister for Human Rights Adviser in which reports on the decision taken by his Government for the creation of a Ministry of Justice and Human Rights.

d) An end to impunity for human rights violations, including those verified by the IACHR and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights of the UN. The Commission met for the establishment of the Research Unit for Human Rights Violations in the Special Prosecutor for Human Rights to support research in this area.

e) Effective support to the work of the Special Prosecutor for Human Rights and the Office of the Minister Advisor on Human Rights. The Commission appreciates the work done both institutions, despite the precarious financial and human resources. Considers that this work can have a significant impact on the validity of human rights, if they allocate the resources necessary to perform an effective job of monitoring, protection and transformation of the state towards a culture of promoting and protecting human rights. The Commission met with satisfaction the proposals of the Honduran Government to allocate resources to these bodies and supported its early implementation. Also met requests for cooperation made to the governments of Colombia and the United States to investigate human rights violations.

5 .- The Commission considers that the work of the Commission of Truth and Reconciliation should have the full support and collaboration of all sectors of Honduran society to determine what happened on June 28, 2009. The Committee notes with satisfaction the readiness of the Commission of Truth and Reconciliation Commission to examine the issues of human rights violations in the context of the coup.

6 .- The Committee notes the willingness of President Wolf to convene a national dialogue among all political sectors in which to discuss issues of interest to all parties, with the aim of achieving reconciliation in society Honduras. For this it is necessary to avoid any impediment or hostility towards them, especially to opponents of the current government, whose security and protection must be guaranteed by the authority.

July .- The Commission presents this report to the General Assembly for consideration for it, in accordance with the Charter of the OAS and the Inter-American Democratic Charter, to adopt the decisions it considers appropriate in relation to the situation in Honduras.

SOURCE: Organization of American States